We all have dealt with stress at some point in our lives. Stress is our body’s reaction to pressure or situations that make us feel threatened.
Although small amounts of stress can help us push our limits and overcome challenges, too much can harm our health. Constant stress can make us feel anxious, irritable, and moody. It can even manifest physically, causing headaches, nausea, fatigue, and even chronic issues like high blood pressure and diabetes in the long run.
Dealing with stress is inevitable. Hence, we must learn how to manage and cope with stress.
First, let’s understand the types of stress:
This is short-term and is what we often encounter in our daily lives. Acute stress is usually easy to manage. For example, a sudden deadline, getting stuck in traffic on the way to work, your child doing badly on an important exam, etc.
This is long-lasting and usually results from being constantly exposed to your stressors for a long time. This kind of stress can lead to health problems if left unattended. For example, a toxic work environment, job hunting, home issues, etc.
What Causes Stress?
Everyone reacts differently to different situations, which is why stress can have many causes. It can be due to external factors such as workplace problems, family/relationship issues, grief, unemployment or job loss, and more. It can also be due to internal factors related to our thinking patterns and emotions.
Now that we have seen what stress is and what can cause stress, here are some ways we can deal with stress.
One way of managing stress is by directly tackling the stressor, which is useful when you have some control over the situation.
This could be
1. Trying to resolve the issue- Asking your boss for flexible timings or different work, communicating with your family to share the workload etc, are some approaches where we can proactively try and change the situation.
2. Removing the stressor- Quitting a job, relocating to a new place, etc., - basically leaving the situation causing stress; is another option.
However, we don’t always have the privilege or control to change our circumstances. Instead, we have to find ways to cope and manage our emotions.
Here are some steps that could relieve stress:
1. Take a Break: Although it sounds counterintuitive, resting is required as it gives energy and strength to deal with stress.
2. Exercise: Physical activity reduces the stress hormone and stimulates the production of endorphins, which make you feel good. Even a short walk will help you feel less stressed!
3. Breathing: Breath control can reduce your blood pressure and pull you out of the “fight or flight” state that stress causes, thus making you feel more calm and composed.
4. Talk to Friends or Family: By connecting with someone (four-legged friends count too!), you can receive support, advice, or even something to distract you and make you feel better.
What can you do in the long term?
1. Take care of your physical health by eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, and following a proper sleep routine. 2. Take care of your emotional well-being by journaling, understanding your triggers and thought patterns, and observing what improves your mood. Taking up activities to keep your mind active (Eg. puzzles), meditation and breathing are also effective.
In conclusion, stress will always be present - it is up to us to handle it healthily and efficiently. Of course, if you are finding it tough to manage stress on your own, or if you feel it is taking a toll on your health, make sure you reach out to a professional!
About the Author
Meghana Ganesh is a Community Manager at Her Second Innings. She is a Computer Science Graduate with a passion for women’s empowerment and equality, and diversity hiring in organizations.
Her Second Innings supports women professionals on a sabbatical in their journey of getting back to work. The mission of HSI is to guide women to achieve financial independence. Support from HSI comes in the form of job interviews, reskilling programs in Automation and, free Career Guidance Counselling. Sign up with us and complete your profile to get a call from our counselors to know your job fit.
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