Stress management 

stress management

We will never be stress-free, for life has eternal stress triggers. And we cannot exclude life from the equation. But we can learn how to manipulate these stress generators for a better life quality, a more purposeful life where the focus stays on what matters the most.  

I used to get stressed quite easily. As a child, math tests were the reason for sleepless nights and my mother’s multiple pep talks. Situations out of my control, where others were the decision-makers, also caused immense stress to me. Generally, I was prone to anxiety.

According to OECD research in 2018 in EU countries, the most common mental health disease is an anxiety disorder, with a whopping 25 million people struggling with stress. This is not peanuts. This is 5.4% of the population. 

What causes stress?  

Every stimulus in daily life can cause stress. Work, multitasking, socialising, romantic relationships, family, expectations set by ourselves or others, travelling, commuting, flirting, deadlines, bureaucracy, conflicts, marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, retirement, shopping and the list goes on and on. 

Literally, every single manifestation of daily life has the potential to trigger anxiety. We can be brave about it and decide to face a difficult situation, or we can keep consuming our energy and resources to avoid it. 

As I see it, managing stress requires intentionality and hard work but offers long-term benefits. Avoidance is rarely the answer.

Returning to work full-time and holding a position of big responsibility, I thought that my stress levels would fly over the roof. The reality is that I am rarely stressed at work because there aren’t many factors that can catch me off guard. Mapping carefully out my day/week, being proactive, and prioritising have helped me to channel my energy on the important rather than stressing for situations outside my control.

One can incorporate several stress management techniques daily to identify and deal with anxiety triggers. Here, I present you a list of the methods I have been using and have been beneficial to me so far.

Stress management  
  • Breathing techniques 

I used to undermine the significance of deep breaths in regulating anxiety in daily situations, especially at work or with a toddler around. Pause for a moment, bring yourself back to the here and now, inhale deeply, exhale, repeat and enjoy the serenity of this 30″ technique. 

Breathing will not vanish your stress triggers, but it will offer momentary tranquillity so you can inform your decisions and further action steps. Breathing will keep you from screaming out loud and start frantically running around. The way I see it, it’s worth it.

  • Walks 

Get out of this office, home or store and walk. Just walk. Be it a nearby park, forest or inspiring little street or neighbourhood, just do it. Get out of the situation that arouses your anxiety by offering yourself some alone time to reflect, calm down and regroup. Maintain distance between a stressful occasion and your reaction by physically removing yourself.

  • Exercise and nutrition 

If you read this blog frequently, this tip won’t surprise you, for I am a huge believer in the immense benefits of exercise and balanced nutrition. A healthy mind in a healthy body, as my ancestors used to swear by, and I won’t disagree.

  • Routines 

Create a comfort zone where you feel safe and confident. Routines are a vital part of it, for they eliminate the unknown or novel situations that can stimulate anxiety. A set of well-defined actions that respond to your needs and desires provides a clear picture of how the day looks to an extent where you can predict situations, actions and behaviours. 

There will always be a surprise factor that has the potential to cause stress, but it is up to us how many of these surprise factors we let interfere with our daily practices.

  • Prioritising

One stress at a time. Define your priorities by diving deep into their exact purpose and importance. Refrain from focusing on a situation that may or may not happen in the future and might or might not be stressful. Direct your precious mental and physical energy into setting your priorities straight. Be clear and specific about them and avoid setting the expectations too high. 

Only then will things and situations reveal their actual significance in your life. 

Minimise visual clutter to lessen stress in life. Let go of all things or people that trigger anxiety in your life and will not let you grow. Less means more time and energy to focus on everything that truly matters to you.

An organised space and time schedule leads to fewer distractions and unpredictability, hence less uncharted stress factors. Simple, intentional, minimal.

  • Professional help 

Stress management techniques can be insufficient in some cases. Seeking professional help is the responsible thing to do for ourselves. Hundreds of specialists have been spending their lives researching and investing in how to help others overcome what brings them down. Chances are there is someone suitable to lead you through your stress management journey.

  • Journaling

I have tried it, and it hasn’t really worked for me. But I believe in its power to help with anxiety regulation. The idea is to write down in a journal the situations that arouse stress in our lives to understand better where they stem from and how we can deal with them. 

It is also a process of admitting the impact of specific stress triggers in our lives by putting them down on paper and accepting their realness. 

There is more than one solution to a problem, and that’s an encouraging way to think about anxiety.

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