In the present era, it is difficult not to get stressed out once in a while. Between juggling work, school, family, and other socio-economic commitments, you can easily become too overwhelmed and busy. It is hence very needful to set time aside to unwind the stress else your mental and physical health can suffer drastically.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Stress occurs when you perceive that demands placed on you such as work, school or relationships exceed your ability to cope with.” Some stress can be beneficial at times, producing a boost that provides the verve and energy to help people get through situations like exams or work deadlines. However, an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences and take a severe emotional toll.
Learning how to manage your stress takes practice, but you can, and need to do it. Here are five (5) healthy techniques that psychological research has shown to help manage stress in the short- and long-term:
1. Take a break from the stressor
It may seem difficult to get away from a big work or school project, a crying baby or a growing financial debt. But when you give yourself permission to step away from it, you let yourself have time to do something else, which can help you have a new perspective or practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed. It’s important to not avoid your stress (those debts have to be paid sometime), but even just 20-minutes to take care of yourself is helpful. For instance, watching a movie or listening to cool music can take your mind off whatever thing that seems to make you stressed for a while.
The research keeps growing – exercise benefits your mind just as well as your body. We keep hearing about the long-term benefits of a regular exercise routine. But even a 20-minute walk, run, swim, cycling or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours.
3. Smile and laugh
Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their faces. So laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation. The next time you’re stressed, try watching a funny video clip on friend’s WhatsApp status or YouTube and you’re sure to be fine. LOL.
4. Get social support
Family and friends are great ‘tools’ for stress management. When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve stress. When you are stressed, you can simply call a friend or send an email to any of your siblings. But it’s important that the person whom you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you. If your family is a stressor, for example, it may not alleviate your stress if you share your works woes with one of them.
Meditation and mindful prayer help the mind and body to relax and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness. When practicing a form of mindfulness, people can release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits.