Stress Management: Strategies for coping with Stress

                                                      

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By: Beverly André Davis

Are you stressed out?  Being stressed out does not mean that you are not empowered. It simply means (a) you are human (b) Currently, you have not called upon your inner power to take control of your life. The important point is that being stressed does not make us  un-ok.  A lot of people these days are suffering from unavoidable stress.  We live in times of  volatile and unpredictable economic hardship no wonder most of the stress we suffer stems from:

– Money worries.

– Inability to pay our debts.

-Household Responsibilities

– Pressures on the job which translates into health concerns which stress us out even more.

Doubtlessly,  present life is economically hard. What with layoffs, high utility bills, the ever rising prices of food, housing foreclosure. No wonder we can’t seem to generate the energy to get tough when the going gets rough. Modern day life is no picnic or walk in the park.  life is complex, hectic, occasionally unpredictable. Changes, choices, decisions, getting on the roller coaster of life.

I am sympathetic to those who are drowning in a sea of hardship  but my heart breaks for the single parents out there. I was once a young mother left to support my two young children. Life was devastatingly difficult. When the recession hit and we lost our home my signature was reduced from a seven lettered name to a one letter. My trembling fingers got so knotted and shaky I just could no longer write. Along the way I learned some vital lessons about stress and how to cope effectively. Most importantly I became acquainted with the inner strength, that dynamic force that resides within each of us. Each lesson learned about the secret of  one’s power has been compiled into an incredibly inspirational  book  on Kindle Amazon to help each of us find the secret of one’s tremendous power to handle all and any of life’s difficulties.

The fact is being stressed out occasionally is a normal condition of life. Sometimes mild forms of stress might even cause us to make healthy changes in our day to day lives. The problem does not lie in stress per se but in the level of stress that we allow ourselves to carry about with us and in our inability to deal with it.

Carrying around an excessive amount of stress over a long period of time is not good at all. Excessive stress can have a destructive effect on our health and relationship and should be managed effectively before it escalate into chronic stress or even clinical depression.

 

WHAT REALLY IS STRESS

Stress is any extra physiological and/or psychological  demand made on the body.

Depending on the perceived danger or stress, our automatic nervous system releases hormones causing chemical changes. Our  heart beats faster, our breathing speeds up and blood flows into our brain.

When we do not deal with the chronic stress in our lives our body suffers wear and tear causing us to develop any one or a multiplicity of these symptoms:  Headaches, backaches, ulcers, asthma, heart attacks and other illnesses which do not have a biochemical origin.

 

HOW DOES STRESS  SHOW  ITSELF?

Stress manifest itself in various ways. If you are stressed out you may experience chronic fatigue  even after a night’s sleep. You may also experience difficulties concentrating for any meaningful length of time and experience difficulty making important decisions.  Unmotivated, unenthusiastic and discouraged you may lack interest in your day to day job. Getting out of bed in the morning becomes a hassle. Where before you were attentive and responsible towards your family you may now find yourself simply wishing to walk away from all your responsibilities. A  constant sense of defeat, hopelessness, helplessness , an overall and persistent negative outlook, withdrawal from social interactions, loss of appetite  are some of  the warning bells that tell you that stress is deepening into depression.

You should seek professional help from your GP long before you reach that critical stage.

 

EMOTIONAL OUTBURST

Mild forms of stress may also manifest itself in emotional outbursts. We may lose control and instead of dealing with the problem we are likely to shift blame and responsibility for the problem onto someone else. For example if a marital relationship produces frustration brought about by financial hardship, the stressed out partner may attempt to unload  his or her  frustration onto the other partner.

Placement of blame is a self-defeating  emotional response since one’s stressful tension is passed on within the relationship environment. The real source of frustration remains untouched  while conflict in the home escalate producing a greater degree of stress.

 

FEELING OUT OF CONTROL

Most of us tend to believe that most or all stressful situations are unpredictable and are therefore beyond our control. Consequently,  instead of attempting to solve the problem we withdraw from it since we feel either incapable of solving the problem or we think the problem is insoluble.

Ignoring  problems  does not mean that we are incapable of handling it. We can handle almost any problem if we put our mind to it. Think of the times when you have looked a problem square in the face and taken it head on AND WON! I am sure you felt a deep sense of  gratification. I know I feel wonderful when I handle what I did not want to handle.  We all feel a sense of  personal  power and belief in our ability to cope and conquer when we handle  problems successfully.

 

INTERNALIZATION

Many people handle stress through a process called internalization. They find it difficult to communicate their feelings to others. Instead of expressing their frustration and anger they hold it in. This is an unhealthy way to manage stress. It is never a good idea to bottle up underlying  stress or hug your problems to yourself.  I know you feel that if you let it out it may create conflict or you may feel it is unfair to burden others with your problems. However keep in mind that by attempting to handle intolerable amounts of psychological pressures alone, instead of decreasing the pressure tends to escalate, resulting in the build up of frustration, resentment and psychophysiological arousal such as aches, pains, poor digestion, anxiety, fatigue and so on.

The question now arises what should one do when one or more of the symptoms of stress appears?

 

HOW TO COPE WITH STRESS

You initial watch word should be: avoid unnecessary stress. We must be honest with ourselves in realising that sometimes we actually turn a mild situation into a volatile one and in so doing invite unnecessary stress into our lives.

Most of the everyday stress we feel could probably be prevented by taking control of our lives. The experts have found that mild amounts of stress can be handled effectively by making healthier choices in our actions and perceptions of the stress factors as well as having a positive  outlook on our ability to cope. Altering the situation is also another effective means of handling stress. Being  more assertive, managing your time wisely, making better choices and dealing with the stressful situation at once are all effective ways of handling everyday stress.

 

FOCUS  ON YOU INNER POWER

One of the most effective means  of managing  everyday stress is to think of your inner strength. This will lead you to appreciate your ability to cope and to take charge of your life by doing the following:

Changing  the outside pressure that is stressing you out. However, if you find it difficult or impossible to control the external pressure use your inner power to increase your internal resistance. It is important to keep in mind that you have the inner resources, the inner power or strength  within you to control your reactions to how you allow external factors to affect you. Keep in mind that events and situations in themselves do not have the power to affect us adversely. How they affect us is determined by our perception of the event or situation, whether we feel a sense of helplessness, hopelessness or a general feeling of being out of control or in control. Our self-perception in relation to our perception of the situation is paramount in determining our response and how we handle stressful events. Focusing on your inner strength will definitely allow you to deal with the problem in healthy successful ways.

 

KEEP THINGS UNDER CONTROL

Keeping things under control is a successful methods of stress management. Try to identify the situations in your life that make you feel stressed out and tense, do not shy away from your hidden anger and frustration pretending they are not there. Ignoring them will not make them go away. Look honestly at your painful feelings and begin to do something about them. We may not be able to make them disappear at once but we can find creative solutions if we look hard enough.

 

GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT

Manage your time well. Prioritize your task in terms of doing the most important ones first and so on to the least important.

 

STAY CALM AND AVOID HASSLES

Staying calm under pressure and avoiding unnecessary hassles will help you avoid and eliminate the minor irritations that can build up and eventually lead to chronic stress.

 

CONTROL  CHANGE

When faced with a positive or negative life change do what you can to limit other  changes. Take life one step at a time.

 

MIND AND BODY RELAXATION  TECHNIQUES

Mind and body relaxation techniques  calm the mind and reduce anxiety and anger. Our uncluttered minds  allow us to think more clearly  finding more effective ways of handling our lives.

Here is a list of some of the techniques I have found incredibly helpful  throughout the years. Choose a technique that appeals to you and practise it regularly  to unwind and feel calm:

-Deep Breathing. This is the most basic relaxation technique and is appropriate for those who are extremely busy and are always on the move. This exercise can be done anytime and anywhere for example while you are sitting on the train or bus or generally in the workplace while sitting at your desk during a five to ten minutes break:

Inhale slowly through your nostrils, hold in your breath for a short time then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this procedure three or four times.

Some of the other relaxation techniques that I have used which you may find useful are:

-Listening to soft, tranquil music.

-Reading the funnies. A good deep belly laugh chases the blues.

-Watching comedies.

-Watching light talk shows  such as Wendy Williams on my Computer.

-Cleaning the mind is another effective means of control and eradicating mild amounts of stress: sit comfortably in a chair in a room away from distractions and noise. Close your eyes while you mentally focus on a peaceful scene, thought or word. Do this for fifteen minutes to half an hour every day. Each session has the power to rejuvenate and refresh you.

-lie on your back on the floor. Close your eyes and draw in the most peaceful scene into your mind. This exercise has the power to relax muscles and mind.

 

PHYSICAL EXERCISE

We should also engage in physical exercise. This raises the adrenalin level allowing good feelings of empowerment to kick  in.

 

A GOOD NIGHT’S  SLEEP

The body operates effectively and happily when there is a healthy balance between work and rest. An overworked body and mind is bound to break down sooner or later.

 

A HEALTHY DIET

A healthy diet with reduced sugars and caffeine, alcoholic drinks and avoidance of nicotine is a must in avoiding excessive stress. The nutritional experts have identified the following foods that help reduce stress:

-Sweet Potatoes will fight off stress with each delicious mouthful.

-coconut, avocado, almond relaxes the brain while creating feelings of wellbeing.

 

CONNECT WITH YOURSELF.  HAVE YOU GIVEN  YOURSELF  A HUG TODAY?

Connect with others. While you are at it…..

Don’t forget to connect with yourself. Love yourself a little more. Think positively about the beautiful and strong person that you are.

Take  some ‘ME-TIME’ just some time off by yourself to regroup  and appreciate the wonderful person that you are.

Above all, as you battle the day to day pressures— slow down and live! And for goodness sake take time to constantly give yourself a hug. You deserve it!

 

To learn more about how to use your inner power to handle any problem that life throws at you check out  Woman Take Hold of Your Power and Free Yourself   an e-book on Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IJ54SAQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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