A little stress isn't so bad. In moderation, it can keep you on the go and even push you to accomplish things you didn't know you could do. But when your stress levels shoot up on a regular basis, that's when you should be concerned. High levels of stress can lead to a wide array of health problems including heart disease, chronic fatigue, anxiety attacks, depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, poor immune function and hypertension. Because of this, you need to take the necessary precautions to manage and control your stress before it gets the better of you. Here are some effective strategies on how to do just that.
Identify Sources of Stress
Stress management begins with this first step. To do this, you need to sit down and take time to examine your life, including your personality, habits, and behavior. Discover what particular elements in your life cause you to become overly tired, anxious, or nervous. Find out what thoughts keep you up at night or what things make you constantly worried. Jotting down on a stress journal will make it easier for you to have an overview of your sources of stress. Some of these would be obvious while others would come as a surprise. Moreover, having this journal will also give you an idea about your current stress-coping techniques and ultimately let you decide whether these are healthy and productive or not.
Avoid, Alter and Adapt
Once you've discovered the source of your stress, there are three ways by which you can act upon it - you can avoid it, alter it or adapt to it. Certain forms of stress could actually be eliminated. Learning to say no, knowing your limits, and not going overboard with responsibilities are just some of the ways to do that. If you're already filled with work up to your eyeball, don't accept the additional responsibilities that your boss wants to drown you with, explaining in a nice way that you don't want the quality of your work to suffer.
Since not all stress can be avoided, the next best thing you can do is to alter the situation. Learn how you can change the situation to make it less stressful for you. For example, if you are constantly stressed about the heavy traffic jams on the way to your office, try to find a different route or perhaps get another work schedule. If not, buy some audio books and your favorite music, and enjoy listening to them while you're stuck in traffic.
Now if you can't avoid or alter the situation, the only thing left for you to do is to adapt to it. Learn to accept that some things cannot be changed and try to look at them in a positive perspective, instead of wallowing in sorrow and despair over those.
Give Yourself a Break
Equally important to dealing with stress is giving yourself ample time for fun and relaxation. There are about a hundred and one ways to relax and unwind, that you just have to go out there and engage in at least one of these once in a while. Few examples include brisk walking, camping, catching up with old friends, exercising in the gym, taking on a sport, having a long bath, lighting scented candles in your room, savoring a warm cup of tea or coffee, paying with your kids, taking a vacation to your dream place, working in the garden, getting a massage, reading a good book, listening to soothing music, watching romantic comedies, and spending time with the people you love.
Stress is a part of life, but it should not dominate yours. Learn to cope with it effectively so it doesn't take a toll on your health and the overall quality of your life.