Oh, stress! Have you ever felt that you have too much to do but too little time? Have you ever cancelled a family gathering just so you could finish a work project? Are you working more than you are supposed to, that you actually have no time left for yourself? These questions are probably too common with the expected answer “Wow, that’s me!”. Mostly these situations are overlooked and considered to be normal, but they shouldn’t be.
Stress is an emotional and physical condition created in challenging situations. It’s a way our body responds by stimulating our sympathetic nervous system, commonly known as the “Fight-or-Flight Response”. The body is then ready to act with increased focus, strength, vigor and alertness (Nemours). These may seem to be good things for you, but prolonged stress can badly lead to quite the opposite.
Stress is one of the leading contributors to the deterioration of one’s health. Being exposed to a lot of stressors (factors that cause stress) may lead to various illnesses, from common cold to cancer, which could cause death (News Medical, 2008). Whilst avoiding stress-provoking situations may be our ultimate goal, here is a list of stress-reduction techniques that may help you in alleviating this unfavorable state and hopefully putting an end to your stressful life.
Breathing deeply relaxes and calms you by sending such signals to your brain. The brain then relays these messages to the rest of your body for the same good effects. Moreover, filling your lungs with oxygen and allowing them to reach your alveoli (functional site of gas exchange) allows your red blood cells to acquire more oxygen molecules to be delivered to all corners of your body. All the cells in the body need oxygen so they can convert the stored energy into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which becomes their food to help them operate well. Hence, making you perform effectively in your daily activities.
Exercise will help your body release toxins and maintain its equilibrium. This is achieved through perspiration (sweating) and vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). The widening of the arteries allows more amount of blood to flow, delivering a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Flexing your muscles regularly also permits the calcium in the blood to enter your bones and muscle fibers. This will help maintain the integrity of your musculo-skeletal system, which is being used almost constantly. Whether you are in motion or not, muscles continuously flex and extend to keep your posture and the rhythm of your movements constant.
Eating the right food and amount always helps. Fulfilling your daily caloric intake is a must as this will ensure the proper functions of your body. If possible, it would be apt if you consult a dietitian and have your daily caloric intake computed, as to know how much you have to take of a particular vitamin, mineral or nutrient to maintain or reach your optimum health.
This involves a quiet environment, passive attitude and a comfortable position. Naturally, you will feel more at ease if the setting you are in is appealing and relaxing. This standard is observed by wellness centers such as spas, facial/massage clinics and resorts. Many people tend to go to these places to feel well rested away from their stressful daily lives.
This is probably the main thing you can control in dealing with stress. Schedule your activities for the week ahead. You can list all the things you have to do per project, the time estimation for completing them and their deadlines. Focus first on the ones with the earliest deadlines. Place reminders in areas where you can see them easily. Stick to your plan. Reward yourself when you have finished everything, and fully enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
Self-Hypnosis is basically hypnotizing yourself without depending on a hypnotist. It’s a practice of making oneself feel deeply relaxed through affirmations that are related to your goals and purposes. To achieve stress-relief, choose positive affirmations that make you feel good while you are relaxing, such as your family, friends, lover, career/health achievements, etc. This is done by first finding a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Close your eyes and relax your muscles. When you are most at ease, you can start saying the affirmations you have prepared, regarding why you do the things you do and what wonderful things result from those efforts that you invest. You can enjoy the state of hypnosis for as long you like.
Meditation, a type of mind-body complementary medicine, offers tranquility and deep relaxation. It directs to enhance physical and emotional well-being, by leaving the mind and becoming free from unpleasant stress-causing thoughts. It is also focused on looking at another point of view on deciphering stressful events, stress management, increasing self-awareness, studying the present, and abandoning all negative emotions.
This is commonly done to patients who are experiencing post-operative pain. It’s a practice where an individual is asked to close his eyes and imagine himself in a very relaxing and peaceful place. They are made to imagine themselves in a beautiful and serene setting, where the word pain does not exist. Consequently, creative imagery has been part of stress reduction techniques, as stress can be perceived as pain. There can be an injury that causes a person to feel stress where he can no longer adequately perform. It may have stemmed from a biological, physical, emotional, mental/psychosocial or spiritual injury. Nevertheless, this activity aims to help the person under stress to feel more relaxed and balanced and his dilemma/pain alleviated.
Group or Social Support
Surely this is the best pick-me-up from a tiring day’s work. Spending time with the people you love comforts you and boosts your energy. You get to be yourself and do what you want to do without worries of making a mistake or fear of being judged. Being with your favorite people enhances your confidence and gives you the assurance that you are more than just a workaholic or a mechanical part of an organization.