What Is Stress And How CanYou Manage It?

Stress can be defined as your body’s response to any demand or pressure, either real (e.g., demanding work with no work life balance) or perceived (e.g., worrying about an upcoming exam). There are many everyday demands for coping, some of which you may perceive as positive (e.g., trying to pass that all-important exam). In contrast, others may cause feelings of anxiety and nervousness (e.g., speaking in front of a large audience).  So how can you manage stress? Let’s debunk all myths today!

When we experience these demands, our body responds by increasing stress hormones; one such hormone is cortisol, which increases glucose levels to give your muscles more energy to act upon the demand. 

How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life: A Complete Guide
How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life: A Complete Guide

Our heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and our levels of alertness increase, preparing us to deal with the demand.  This is often called the body’s “fight or flight” response, and it acts as a handy survival mechanism, allowing you to respond to a sudden danger quickly.

When any demand results in your stress response being activated over some time, e.g., a new job that creates a lot of pressure, then this can affect your health; this is because prolonged activation of the stress hormones (and thus glucose) can result in increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). These persistently elevated blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes type 2.  

Why Is Stress Relief And Stress Management So Crucial?

To understand the role of stress in depression and if this becomes a prolonged and serious illness, you must know how cortisol, a stress hormone, is produced and released in the body. It’s been said that genetic factors control 50% of a person’s cortisol level, and environmental and personal factors influence 50%. 

The body produces cortisol for a variety of reasons. Some of the causes include: sleep deprivation, stress, physical exertion, fighting or fleeing from a feared animal, or fear, being chased or attacked, or anxiety. But not all of the body’s production is necessary.

How Much Cortisol Does Your Body Need?

Too much cortisol is destructive and produces shriveled-up tissues and weak immune systems.

But too little cortisol is harmful too. Too much cortisol can disrupt the appetite, make the person fat, and promote unhealthy cravings for sugar and carbs.

While the production of cortisol is necessary to regulate our behavior, too much of this stress hormone can promote hypertension, heart disease, and high blood pressure and make the pulse rate faster and less regular.

Another effect that this increased production of cortisol following chronic stress may have on the body is to reduce the number of “natural killer cells” in your blood.  These are a type of white blood cell, and their role is to help protect the body from infections and some types of cancer. 

How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life
How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life: A Complete Guide

A reduced number of these means we become more vulnerable to infections. Still, crucially the risk of developing certain types of cancer increases too (such as those originating in the stomach and pancreas).

Other potential effects that stress may have on our everyday life include increased cholesterol levels, raised blood pressure, decreased sexual desire or ability, disturbed sleep patterns, weight gain/obesity; loss of appetite; tiredness, and fatigue.

Why Should You Manage Stress Relief?

So how do we know when our stress levels are too high? Well, we also need to know how we’re regulating our cortisol levels. If you’ve ever seen a professional deal with stress, they’ve most likely given you some stress monitoring checks.

 You should be told that your cortisol level is too high or too low, depending on how you’re able to reduce stress.

Why is this important?

A high-stress situation may lead to depression if it’s not regulated correctly. Stress affects many emotional disorders, such as anxiety disorders, adjustment disorders, panic, and adjustment disorders.

What Can You Regulate Mental Health By Stress Management?

Even though our body can deal with short periods of stress, if this becomes prolonged, our body will not cope.

We can manage our stress by adopting strategies that may reduce the amount of stress we feel, e.g., getting exercise regularly; practicing relaxation techniques (e.g., meditation); or talking to others about how we are feeling. Positive self talk is indeed crucial to keep negative energy away and also to keep a healthy body.

Why Mental And Physical Health Both Are Important?

Another critical factor in stress management is to identify ways which make you feel good and help you relax your mind and body, e.g., taking time out for activities that please you, such as listening to music or doing something creative like painting or knitting; also to exercise regularly; having a hobby that you enjoy; spending time with friends or a family member, etc. 

 It may sound simple, but just 30 minutes of exercise per day can have benefits for reducing your levels of cortisol and stress.

Your body was not designed to operate under constant pressure or stress. Making simple lifestyle changes can help reduce the amount of stress in your life; this will promote good physical and mental health, which may benefit your academic performance.  

What Are 10 Ways To Manage Stress?

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension when an individual fails to develop the desired solution to deal with external factors.

 Stress is prevalent among individuals in any profession, irrespective of their level in the hierarchy. For example, Stress levels at the workplace could be because of heavy workload or pressure from seniors or peers.  

Even if you are meeting all your targets and deadlines, the stress levels would still be high as there can be some unexpected circumstances that lead to an additional workload on you. Although managing stress is not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life

Here are some ways through which one can relieve stress :

1. Exercise:  

Physical activity is one of the best ways to manage stress. Not only does it keep you physically fit, but it also has many mental health benefits like reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms, improving sleep quality, and boosting self-esteem. 

Also, it helps in counteracting the physical effects of stress on your body. You can participate in some physical activity or sport that you love doing or follow a fitness plan to stay healthy and fit regularly.

2. Meditation:  

Meditation is the concentration of the mind on one thing at a time without being distracted by other thoughts which enter through our senses, i.e., sight, sound, smell, touch, etc. 

When you med regularly, then your mind becomes more focused and less sensitive. It leads to stress reduction and improves your ability to deal with certain unpleasant situations.

3. Yoga:  

This is one of the best ways to mitigate stress in an individual. 

Doing yoga regularly not only helps you control your breathing but also provides you with sound sleep, strengthens your muscles, and makes you feel relaxed and fresh after doing it daily.

4. Diet:  

You should stick to a healthy diet plan that doesn’t include junk food, fried items, or high sugar content foods as they affect brain cells’ which cause stress when lack of nutrition is experienced by body cells over a period leading to mood swings, anxiety, etc.

5. Have Good Sleep:

You need to get proper sleep to manage to relieve stress.  

Sound sleep helps release endorphins naturally produced by the body that act as natural painkillers and induce positive feelings if this becomes prolonged, thus making us feel relaxed. 

During insufficient or disturbed sleep, this endorphin level reduces, making you feel low and stressed up all the time, which is harmful to health in the long run.

6. Socialize And Avoid Negativity:  

Being social is an excellent way to cope with stress. It helps control the blood pressure by releasing the feel-good hormone, i.e., dopamine, which induces happiness and keeps your mind relaxed. 

So, always try to stay social without neglecting your responsibilities or tasks at hand, as it boosts self-confidence and self-esteem by letting you have a fresh mind to take on challenges.

You need to keep negativity away from your life as far as possible because it’s one of the leading causes of stress, which again spoils your mental health and your relationships with others.

7. Yoga:  

This is one of the best ways to reduce stress in an individual. 

Doing yoga regularly not only helps you control your breathing but also provides you with a night of sound sleep, strengthens your muscles, and makes you feel relaxed and fresh after doing it daily.

8. Healthy Relationships:

You must have healthy relationships with your friends, family, and colleagues to help reduce stress in the long run.

 It would be best not to hold grudges against anyone, adversely affecting mental health and hindering stress relief.

9. Music Therapy:  

Listening to soothing music is one of the best stress management methods which reduces mental tension, anxiety, and depression. 

It provides a different form of relief to your mind to reduce stress after listening to them for a particular time every day.

10. Writing:  

You should keep a diary to jot down your daily thoughts, activities, and the things that are causing you stress so that after some time when you will review your journal, you will realize how much you have managed to reduce your stress levels by taking specific steps in the right direction after analyzing it carefully for which you were worrying excessively about.

How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life: A Complete Guide
How Can You Manage Stress In Your Life: A Complete Guide

How Deep Breathing Exercises Alleviate Stress?

Stress is the tension and distress caused by physical, psychological, or social pressures. It occurs when we perceive demands as taxing or exceeding our coping ability.

The stress response is mediated by the nervous system, which produces physical feelings of panic (rapid breathing, increased heart rate), cognitive turmoil (difficulty concentrating), and muscle aches which are all mitigated by emotional pain (depression, anxiety).

A part of this complex reaction is inflammation, a natural immune response that can cause long-term damage to human health if it becomes chronic. Stress can have both immediate effects on your body but also chronic ones over time.

How Can Stress Levels Go Down By Deep Breathing Exercises?

Breathing techniques are commonly used in Yoga, meditation, and martial arts for relaxation because they activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system has a balancing effect on the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response and causes you to experience stress when you perceive a threat or overload to your coping ability.

In this study, researchers at the University of California analyzed different breathing exercises as a potential stress reliever to determine their physiological effects.

Practice Belly Breathing To Lower Blood Pressure

In particular, they focused on abdominal breathing, where air enters through the nose and fills up the belly instead of deep breathing exercises.

When performed regularly, these exercises have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels (a hormone released during stressful moments), decrease heart rate variability, and improve mood stability.

According to these results, it has been suggested that “even a few minutes of deep breathing exercises may relieve stress and anxiety, as well as decrease sympathetic activity.”

Why Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation Important?

This is a self-help technique used to deal with stress by consciously and voluntarily tensing and then relaxing muscles in a specific order. This can aid you in stress relief and stress management, for it helps lower the heart rate and release tension (which will help you think more clearly).

Although muscle relaxation may seem like an unnecessary practice, it has been proven to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve certain types of headaches, decrease chronic pain, improve sleep habits (including insomnia), lead to more excellent patience/less likely to act out frustrations; via increased awareness of bodily sensations that could cause distress.

There are many other benefits associated with stress reduction that include but are not limited to: lowered anxiety levels, better concentration, increased ability to cope with stress, increased self-esteem, and self-control.

How Was This Technique Developed?

In a study conducted in 1978, individuals diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) showed substantial reductions in their symptoms after practicing progressive muscle relaxation.

Other studies had found that individuals suffering from anxiety disorders improved dramatically when they practiced muscle relaxation. In addition, researchers have also found that the practice lowers levels of hormones associated with stress, including cortisol and catecholamines.

Therapists often recommend muscle relaxation to patients coping with grief or loss. During extreme emotional distress, people tend to experience physical discomfort such as headaches or pain due to tense muscles, which can add frustration and confusion for an already emotionally distraught individual.

Muscle relaxation was developed by Dr. Edmund Jacobson, a Harvard-trained doctor, and disciple of William James. He had an interest in psychoanalysis and yoga during the first half of the 20th century.

During this time, he developed what is known as the “Jacobson technique,” which involved the systematic tensing and relaxing of the muscles to improve mind and body coordination. In 1934, Jacobson wrote a book called Progressive Relaxation, the first publication of his work.

Why Are Mental Health Professionals Needed For Combating Stress?

A Mental health professional can help individuals cope with stress by teaching general coping skills. They can also teach general problem-solving skills to deal with chronic stress disorders such as PTSD and provide medical advice.

They can provide therapy for psychiatric conditions such as depression or anxiety, often triggered by ongoing stressful events. A Mental health professional also knows when further intervention may be needed, such as cognitive/behavioral therapy for depression or anti-depressants for severe depression to render stress relief and combat stress.

Mental health professionals also help train individuals to adjust to daily living activities after a significant injury or incident. They monitor the ongoing treatment of the individual and make sure that the individual is receiving adequate support both professionally and emotionally.

Professional support includes making sure that an individual is not self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, eating healthy and exercising to avoid depression (especially in the winter months), and not withdrawing from family or friends. Emotional support includes listening to individuals who may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, intrusive memories, moodiness, etc.

They help provide psycho-education by allowing individuals to understand what symptoms they may be experiencing and how they will likely improve over time if treated properly.

Mental health professionals also help train individuals to adjust to daily living activities after a significant injury or incident. They monitor the ongoing treatment of the individual and make sure that the individual is receiving adequate support both professionally and emotionally.

Professional support includes making sure that an individual is not self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, eating healthy and exercising to avoid depression (especially in the winter months), and not withdrawing from family members or friends.

Why Should You Maintain A Stress Journal?

If you are undergoing any form of therapy, having a journal that records your progress will be beneficial to you and your therapist/doctor. For example, suppose you are undergoing CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). In that case, it will help get the most out of this therapy by allowing them to monitor how changing thoughts can affect feelings and behaviors over time.

Having a stress journal is an essential part of cognitive-behavioral therapy for three reasons:

One reason why it’s beneficial is that it allows the therapist/doctor to monitor how thoughts affect feelings and behaviors over time. It will also enable them to see whether or not specific strategies are practical for you because they will be able to track the things you write in the journal.

It also helps you because it will allow you to look back and see what caused certain emotions, how long these feelings lasted, and what you did during this time. This will be beneficial to keep track of your progress during treatment.

A third benefit of having a stress journal is that adding pictures, poetry, or drawings can convey a particular emotion that words cannot express. You may also find it helpful to keep track of your feelings by attaching physical symptoms such as changes in appetite, sleeping habits, and headaches. Keeping track of your progress will allow you to work with your doctor/therapist on specific goals that you set together.