How to Manage Stress Properly

March 20, 2019
Complicated and stressful situations can consume you little by little if you don't how to handle them. Therefore, it's important to learn to manage stress.

Managing stress is complicated and can become a vicious cycle that, paradoxically, creates more stress. While a certain level of stress is considered beneficial because it can help overcome difficult situations, such as an exam or job responsibilities, stress can be harmful if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are techniques and habits that may help manage stress and keep it from paralyzing us, making us react uncontrollably, or leading to anxiety and even physical ailments.

The Problems that Stress Causes

An overwhelmed woman trying to manage stress.

Stress is the body’s normal reaction to complicated situations.

Dr. Hans Selye identified three stages of stress that define the different states we experience when we’re exposed to stressful situations:

1. Alarm

This is the immediate response to a dangerous or difficult situation. The heart rate increases, hormones such as cortisol are released, and the body gets an adrenaline boost that helps you react.

2. Resistance

After the first impact, it’s normal for the body to relax and restore its normal levels. However, if you don’t overcome the situation that generates stress, the body is still on alert and gets used to high blood pressure and hormone levels.

3. Exhaustion

Stress becomes chronic and the body depletes its reserves to fight it. At this point, it has emotional and physical effects such as:

Stressful situations are sometimes unavoidable, but if you find a way to handle them, many of stress’ negative consequences can be avoided or at least reduced.

How to Manage Stress

A woman who decided to manage stress.

The American Psychological Association (APA) claims that there are several types of stress and that each person must find their own way to manage stress. Thus, each person should discover the causes of their stress in order to reduce its influence.

Here are some tips:

Separate Yourself Temporarily from the Stressor

Once you’ve identified the situation that stresses you out, separate yourself from it as much as you can. It’s not about avoiding a problem that you have an obligation to solve, but to take a mental break from it.

This may interest you: Understand the Negative Effects of Stress

Exercise

A woman jogging.

Exercise regulates the physiological processes that are involved stress and anxiety. A study of 288 families over 10 years showed that those who exercise had less anxiety and overcame the initial stress stages a lot faster that those who don’t do any physical activity.

This is the result of several reactions that exercise causes in the body:

  1. During exercise, the body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers the body produces.
  2. Hormonal activity also decreases with exercise, which means that the body releases less cortisol, the stress hormone.
  3. Exercise also helps you sleep, meaning that your body and mind will be more rested.

A daily exercise routine such as walking, dancing, or bicycling can help to manage stress.

Also read: 5 Tricks to Sleep Better

Practice Yoga

Yoga is one of the best ways to manage stress. In addition to the benefits of exercise we discussed above, studies have shown that yoga acts as an antidepressant and anxiolytic and also relaxes the mind. In addition, yoga promotes concentration, so it helps you separate yourself mentally from the stressor.

Find a suitable place and devote a few minutes a day to practicing yoga.

Meditate

A woman meditating.

Meditation helps relax he body and mind. Focusing on just your breathing or the environment around you will force you to separate yourself momentarily from the problem that is stressing you out and will give you a new perspective.

Try Natural Antidepressants

Natural herb infusions such as valerian, green tea, and lemon balm have been proven to reduce stress.

Do Fun Activities with People Who Make You Feel Good

Some friends hanging out.

Socializing is a powerful tool to eliminate anxiety when used correctly.

After all, any activity that helps clear your mind will help manage stress. If you focus your attention on something other than your problems, you’ll have a more peaceful state of mind. If the activity you choose is fun, it’ll be even more helpful because laughter helps relieve stress.

You can also do other activities that give your mind and body a break. Listening to music, visiting new places in good company, practicing a hobby such as painting, writing, or doing handicrafts are good options. Doing different and entertaining things will distract you from your stress.

If none of these things work, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. Therapists are prepared to help you manage stress and to guide you on the best path to overcoming it.

  • Stressand the General Adaptation Syndrome. Hans Selye. Professor and Director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery, Universite de Montreal, Montreal, Canada. British MEdical Journal. (1950). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2038162/pdf/brmedj03603-0003.pdf
  • Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: A population-based study.Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Volume 42, Issue 4, (2006), Pages 273-279. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743505002331
  • A systematic review of randomised control trials on the effects of yoga on stress measures and mood. Michaela C.Pascoea, . Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Dept. of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002239561500206X
  • Formulations of dietary supplements and herbal extracts for relaxation and anxiolytic action: Relarian.  Department of Biology, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY. (2009). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19865069
  • Neurochemical and behavioral effects of green tea (Camellia sinensis): a model study. Mirza B, Ikram H, Bilgrami, Haleem DJ, Haleem MA.(2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23625424
  • The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity.  Indiana State University School of Nursing, Terre Haute, Ind., USA. (2003). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12652882