October 13, 2016

Stress Management: How to Identify and Cope with Stress

Need to do something about all the stress in your life? Find out how to see the early signs of stress and how it can negatively impact your well-being. With a firm knowledge of stress, you’ll know what to do about it and how stress management can help.

Stress. Do you feel tense just reading the word? You’re not alone. Stress is something we all experience. In fact, a certain amount of stress is normal and even necessary to your overall health. It’s only when stress elevates to levels that are too high that it can cause a great deal of discomfort. The good news, however, is that there are many ways you can manage stress and even thrive with it in your life. The key is to be properly informed and to practice good stress management skills—which we'll talk about here.

For the everyday teenager and young adult, what exactly is stress? Generally speaking;
Stress is your body’s response to any type of demand or challenge.
Stress is particularly common among young people these days. Findings published in 2012 by the American Psychological Association, in the research article "Stress by Generation", highlighted that 39% of Millennials experienced increased stress levels from the previous year.

If you're a Millennial there is, however, no need to feel discouraged or overwhelmed by that statistic. With some simple stress management techniques, you can learn how to keep your cool and things under control.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress

You’ve probably experienced stress before and therefore know what it feels like. But beyond the typical “wound too tightly” type of sensations, stress can create many other symptoms, some of which can become quite severe.

The physical symptoms of stress include pain such as headaches, migraines, achiness, frequent colds and flu's, rapid heartbeats, chest pains, dizziness, and nausea to name a few.

The cognitive issues that can come about when you’re stressed include incessant worrying, excessive negative thinking, racing thoughts, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, bad judgment (i.e. poor decision-making), and problems with memory.

The Emotional Side

The emotional problems resulting from stress can include moodiness, unhappiness, depression, feelings of isolation and loneliness, short temper, irritability, difficulty relaxing, and the sense of being overwhelmed.

Generally, when you’re stressed, it’s unlikely you will experience all of these symptoms. What you may find, however, is that your body, mind, and emotions may tend to experience a variety of symptoms in a certain category.

For example, when stressed, your body might trigger physical symptoms, your mind becomes overwhelmed, you’re more prone to an emotional response, or some combination of the three.

Whether you experience one or two symptoms of stress or several, it’s important to note, it can make a big impact on your life. Employing stress management techniques is your best bet to keep stress from wreaking major havoc on you.

Causes of Stress

A multitude of issues, people, and events in your life can cause stress. Relationship problems such as family conflict, overwork, too many responsibilities going on at the same time, and traffic jams are all examples of everyday type causes of stress.

Even activities and events that people typically see as being good and exciting, such as wedding planning, can be stressful. Sometimes you may even have multiple causes of stress affecting you at the same time, making life seem more difficult to deal with.

Whatever the cause of stress is in your life, especially when you have multiple causes of stress to deal with at the same time, it’s important to know how to be diligent about putting stress management strategies into place.

Dangers of Stress

As you may have guessed, from reading the different types of stress symptoms and causes, too much stress can be harmful in a variety of ways. In addition to its initial onset effects, excessive levels of stress can greatly contribute to health problems, such as ongoing digestive system issues, heart disease, pain (including migraines), problems with sensible decision-making, less fulfillment in life, depression, difficulty sleeping, and weight issues.

Identify and Eliminate

Now that we’ve looked at the different types of symptoms, causes, and dangers of stress, let’s now turn to ways you can best manage stress. Remember, no matter what, you will experience stress in your life and while a certain level of stress is healthy, excessive amounts of stress can be damaging and you need to know how to best manage that.

Here are some helpful tips on how you can effectively manage stress.
  • First and foremost, identify the type of stress you are experiencing and determine whether your reaction to it is physical, mental, or emotionally related.
  • Secondly, find out what is causing the stress and focus on finding ways you can remove it from your life.
    • For example, if a particular relationship is particularly stressful to you, you may want to consider spending less time with that person or perhaps even to end the relationship for the sake of your well-being.
    • Another example might be at your place of work. If you feel the workload at your job is continuously 'too heavy', talk with your manager to find out whether it’s possible to decrease your work responsibilities, or to re-evaluate them in order to figure out a suitable compromise.
  • Thirdly, figure out which things can’t be changed in your life and which you could potentially alter or adapt, to make them less stressful. Whatever it might be, it’s up to you!

See also: How to Relieve Stress: 10 Quick Ways to Get Stress Free.

Take Back Control

Once you’ve peeled away the necessary and avoidable stressors in your life, take a look at the types of stress you have left. At this point, it’s time to work on stress management.

How? Every day, make a conscious decision to take back control and do some sort of activity that either brings calm or dissolves the feeling of stress into your life.

This might be as simple as healthy eating, regular exercise, or doing something that brings you happiness and joy to practicing relaxation and deep breathing techniques or being totally immersed in your favorite hobbies.
The main thing is, figure out what works best for you then to use those things to help you work through stressful situations in the future.

Try These Stress Management Tips

Need some ideas? Here are some affordable and simple examples to get you thinking about an effective and enjoyable stress management routine:
  • Learn some deep breathing techniques, and do them for 5 minutes at least a few times each week. If you prefer, find out if there are classes in your area you can enroll in otherwise, there are a number of books and websites you can consult through a Google search and even some excellent apps you can download to your phone to help you with the process.
  • Take brisk or strolling walks, even if they’re short. Early morning, lunch breaks or evenings are always a good option. Even better, take someone with you! Truth is, if you’re not taking enough breaks, that’s a stressor, so work on that too.
  • Have a laugh. Lock into your calendar a time to watch a funny movie with a friend or family member once a week.
  • Start or restart your favorite hobby and spend at least 10 minutes enjoying it each day.
Feel free to come up with your own ideas for stress management. Think of activities that are fun and relaxing for you. Then, consider adding those into your life. For more stress management tips, Mayo Clinic recommends mastering “The Four As” to help cope with stress. The four A’s they talk about are; avoid, alter, accept, and adapt. To read more about it see their article.

See also: Chakra Stones for Healing Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

Put Stress Management to Work

Absorbing everything here will help you to recognize stress in your own life. Remember, stress isn’t inherently a bad thing and a certain level of stress is good for you. It’s only when you find yourself overloaded with it, that you begin to enter the dangers of it being toxic to your health.

The next time your stress levels start to become too much, take the bull by horns. Put the stress management techniques we’ve talked about here to work for you. If you feel like stress is taking you over, aim to reduce the tension in your life. Practice stress management so you can lead a healthier, happier life. The benefits you experience will kick in quickly. So why not try it for yourself. Take control of your stress, rather than let your stress take control of you.