Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Stress Management: 6 Techniques
Stress like breathing is a normal everyday part of life. Stress can invade every part of our life, including our relationships. Reducing stress in your everyday life is vital for maintaining your overall health, as it can improve your mood, boost immune function, promote longevity and allow you to be more productive. However, when stress is not addressed or unresolved you put yourself at risk for increased anxiety, depression, hypertension, heart disease, and a range of other serious and debilitating illnesses. Stress has a powerful impact on our overall well-being as it is a natural reaction to things that are unpleasant, distressing, etc., because it is activated in the brain.
When we become stressed, the brain undergoes a significant change. The brain starts to produce both chemical and physical changes which impacts its overall functioning. When we are subjected to increased levels of stress certain chemicals within the brain, including the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine begin to rise, causing larger amounts of these and other "fight-or-flight" hormones such as adrenalin to be released by the adrenal glands. In addition to some of the consequences of unresolved stress listed above, over time chronic stress can lead to the development of other serious problems, such as stomach ulcers, stroke, and asthma.
Chronic stress can contribute to an exacerbation of pre-existing mental health disorders, such as, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, phobias, schizophrenia, and panic attacks. Increased stress can make it difficult to concentrate, remember, make decisions, and process information. Stress can alter our moods, making us more susceptible to angry outbursts, irritability, insecurity, inability to relate to others in a healthy manner, and relationship conflicts.
Stress can break us down emotionally, psychologically, and physically. As stress levels increase it may decrease the amount of sleep we receive as well as the quality of our sleep. Stress is often triggered by an overwhelming feeling of helplessness when we are faced with demands or challenges we do not feel we can overcome. In order, to effectively manage stress levels we must identify ways to reduce our levels of stress, when at all possible avoid people and things that may contribute to the source of our stress, knowing when something is within our control to change as well as what is not within our control to change.
6 Techniques That Can be Used to Manage Stress:
Identify the source of your stress.
Isolate the issues that are not related to your stress.
Develop a plan or strategy that can be used to resolve the problem or mitigate symptoms.
Whenever possible take a break or remove yourself from the situation.
Try to build stress-reducing activities into your life, such as exercise, relaxation and hobbies.
Become aware of your own strengths, weaknesses and needs.
5 Things to Avoid When Stressed
Avoid making critical decisions
Casting judgment on yourself
Trying to resolve multiple issues simultaneously
Getting insufficient sleep
Neglecting your physical and emotional needs, i.e., not taking medication(s), failure to keep medical appointments, etc.
Stress is a natural response to things that are overwhelming and distressing in our lives, however, the way we address stressful issues may not be healthy or appropriate. Therefore, it is essential to identify and develop skills to address the stressful events and reduce unpleasant feelings. By committing to set aside time, trying to relax, and learn new stress management skills you can increase both your emotional and physical health benefits.