Regardless of what is the cause of stress the degree in which stress affects us depends on how we think about it. To manage stress effectively we need first to be able to manage our thoughts and the way of thinking. Each situation and each event gets the value that we give them, and thus causing us suchstress, as we allow them to. Each person things and reacts differently from all other people. Also, the same person things and reacts for the same events differently at different times, depending on the circumstances.
What upset us is not the events themselves, but the perception we have for them. If this perception changed, then it is possible to manage, change or reduce the degree of stress we feel.
A very good way to manage stress, is to examine whether the situation or the causes of stress are really so bad as we think, or they are only bad in our thoughts. The steps below will help you manage your stress by first managing your thoughts.
Steps to manage Stress and your life
1. Defining the exact cause of the source of stress. Find exactly what is that bothers you. The stress you feel for something concrete is less than the stress you feel for something abstract. Also, you can more easily find specific ways to address a certain problem when you know what exactly the problem is than trying to solve a problem that is abstract and un-defined.
2. Check and re-evaluate your thoughts. After you identify what is causing you stress, it is useful to look at your thoughts about the source of stress and your connection with the source of stress, etc. The reassessment of the situation may lead you to a more accurate assessment of the situation and to help locate thoughts that “misrepresent” reality. Replacing these thoughts with other more adapted to reality or even more optimistic or positive will reduce the degree of stress you experienced.
3. Implementation of specific strategies for solving the problem. Having isolated the problem, you should deal with the problem and resolve it so as not to become a permanent or recurring source of stress.
Different techniques can help each person to manage stress. Apart from those described above, there are some other ideas that may be useful in a pressing and stressful situation.
1. Plan your time. It is important to schedule your responsibilities and your actions both long term (for the next few weeks or months) and short (for the next day or days). You can manage this as follows:
- Make a list of commitments and activities.
- Assess their importance and the urgency.
- Make a list of commitments and activities to be completed on the day, the next few days, the coming months.
- Try to deal first with the more important and urgent matters. Do not set unrealistic goals.
- Do not put new things on the list unless it is necessary or when there is sufficient time.
- Note any obligation or activity you have completed.
- At the end of each day check what you have achieved and make the necessary corrections to the program of the next day.
- DO NOT forget to arrange adequate time for fun and relaxation.
- Try to be flexible in planning and create a flexible schedule. Make the changes needed, when needed
2. Engage with pleasant activities. The physical exercise, dealing with a pleasant activity or having free time can significantly help in managing stress. The exercise, walking, dancing, swimming and hobbies relieve the tension and prevent negative consequences, such as health problems. Although competitive sports are good, try not to bother with any competitive sport or hobby, and do not deal in a competitive manner. There are also benefits from exercise and from being more ‘active’ in our daily lives: for example, you can walk to work and not drive. Use the stairs rather than the lift, do some light exercise at home.
3. Make sure that there is free time in your daily schedule. Actual leisure is the one in which you do not have to do anything. Sit somewhere comfortable and listen to music and do not do anything.
4. Try sleeping as much as you need. The application of the relaxation methods presented above, light exercise or a walk can help you sleep better. Also, try to keep a stable sleep schedule. Sleep and wake up the same hours every day. Stress and sleep are strongly bound together. Lack of sleep can cause stress and stress can be the cause for lack of sleep.
5. The dietary habits play an important role in our health and stress management. Our food and diet should be balanced: you should not eat much or too little, but you should eat as much food as your body needs. Your diet should be balanced in vitamins, protein, carbohydrate and other nutrients. Do not rely your nutrition on fast food or sweets. Try a variety of flavours and food types. Managing stress with food is about consuming those foods that can give your body those ingredients and energy to cope with the daily life obligations that are the major causes of stress.
6. An escape from the daily routine may prove beneficial. Try to organise a trip for the weekend or a day trip every now and then. Just for a while escape from your office, your work, the library, the kitchen, your home. Forget for a moment the obligations and problems and try to relax.
7. Talk to someone you trust, love, or feel comfortable with. Go out with your friends for a coffee and talk about what concerns you. You may struggle to achieve this, but the relief you will feel will surprise you. In addition, you may hear a proposal or solution they have to offer that may be useful to you. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Ask what others would do if faced with the problem that you have. It is likely that they will give you good ideas.
8. Surely you had problems, difficulties and stress in the past. Refer to these cases and try to remember what helped you that time to overcome the difficult moments. It is likely that you will also find it useful now.
9. Alcohol, drugs and smoking when used for a long time is not a good solution for dealing and managing with stress. The problems are not resolved by forgetting them. On the contrary they persist and cause additional stress and extra difficulties. Alcohol, drugs or smoking do not really help but cause serious problems. Do not rely on them to fight stress.
10. Get help from professionals. If you have tried everything we described in this article, or other techniques and you feel that they have not helped you substantially, or if you feel that you are experiencing much stress and you do not have the strength to manage it or if you feel tired and depressed then do not hesitate to ask the help of experts.
To do something, however small, to manage your stress is incomparably better than not do anything at all!