Stress has become a mainstay of modern life. But until now, many people still succumb to its harmful effects. They get sick, feel defeated, or worse, end their life. This is why it is important for you to remember that you are stronger than stress. You cannot eliminate it, but you can cope and manage it.
A Khan Academy course outlines ways to handle stress better. They are divided into coping mechanisms and stress management techniques.
Take back control in certain areas of your life
If you’re facing a stressful situation, you may feel like losing control. At work, for instance, triggers can come from your current position. You can be looking at a demanding load or feeling underused skills-wise.
Find an area in your life in which you can field a quick win. How about your health? Perhaps you have been sedentary for weeks as an effect of stress. Go ahead and take a short walk. Then increase your movement gradually until you gain back the control in this aspect.
Rewire your brain with optimism and perspective
No one should expect you to be a walking ball of sunshine every time. But no one should also feel obligated to absorb your negative energy when you go out and about looking like a doomsday prophet. To strike a balance, accept realistic events and know where you stand in them.
Complement this with humor. You may not be able to laugh your way out of a tough time, but at least you can tap into pleasant emotions despite it.
Lean in for social support
Distressing episodes often go together with difficult emotions. When this happens, you should all the more connect with people instead of withdrawing from them. Having a person, group, or community to rely on can help alleviate stress or anxiety. Your social support becomes your safe space. Here, you are able to discuss your problems, process your feelings, and even plot courses of actions if not solutions.
Family, friends, and colleagues can provide us with perspective. We can laugh and relax with them. Healthy relationships promote wellbeing, so we are empowered to cope with stress better.
If your life mantra is based on the Darwinian outlook highlighting the survival of the fittest, then you probably already know how far an active lifestyle can take you in terms of dealing with stress.
Exercising at least 30 minutes a day gives you a boost. In turn, you come back to whatever’s causing your stress with a calmer and clearer head. It makes so much sense because your body shifts its focus toward a different task and goal. When you’re running, for instance, your stressor seems distant and unable to harm you at the moment.
Meditation is just one of the relaxation techniques you can try when you’re bogged down by stress. While practicing it does not erase stress from your day, it has a desirable impact on your brain. Scientists studying the link between meditation and the brain have seen how humans respond to some of these varying options.
Different types of meditation are available for people who want to incorporate them in their lives. The relaxation response and mindfulness meditation are two examples. Results from researching their effects “indicate that the programs are working through different neural mechanisms.”
Keep the faith
One way a faith-based stress management system works is that most world religions are pro-health. Reliance on alcohol, drugs, and tobacco is a no-no. Depending on these substances is not going to help you combat stress in the long run. In fact, it can even lead to destructive behaviors.
Aside from the apparent health benefit, being a part of a faith-based group allows for fellowship in places of worship. You have ready social support right there. Prayers and other religious rituals also have a calming effect on the mind, making it strong, resilient, and able to manage stress.
Observe yourself from an objective point-of-view
This is related to perspective, which was mentioned earlier. Being able to reformulate a situation can have a liberating effect on stressed people. You can start seeing a problem, a person, or an object from another angle. A different perspective already opens you up to opportunities, solutions, or actions you would have not otherwise considered.
Khan Academy’s stress management module calls this cognitive flexibility. In some cases, you may need an outsider to guide you systematically through this process. A health professional such as your therapist is an ideal candidate for this.
The last two actions are added from government or private health sources.
While in the middle of stress, it may seem you don’t have the headspace to deal with other people’s problems. But volunteering in community work, for instance, can help you put yours in perspective. Of course, the other side of the coin is learning how to say no to requests that can actually add to the burden you’re already feeling. So go for something that feels rewarding, something that reminds you can make a difference despite your circumstances.
Get enough rest and sleep
Stress can take its toll on your body. Some people report about experiencing bouts of insomnia when in the thick of things. Others feel physical pain. But remember that you have to let your body recover from stress. It is even more important to have enough rest and sleep during this period. You need to be physically well to endure the mental effects of stress and bounce back.