Stress Management Techniques. We all need them because stress is a large part of life. We all deal with it. From the time, we start walking and talking, going to school and interacting with other people on the planet - we’ve got stress.
And the way we handle stress is a major factor in your lives. In order to manage our stress effectively, it’s important that we take time to discover exactly how we respond to stress, how we habitually react to stress, how it affects our lives and what we can do to manage stress in healthier ways.
Based on stress management techniques of the American Psychological Association, I’ve created the following stress management technique system to assist you in your stress relieve efforts.
Stress Management Techniques
Realize how you Experience stress
Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed? How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed? What is your scale of stress? It’s really good if you can create a scale for yourself to understand how you are experiencing stress, what you can do to alleviate it and how you feel when you aren’t stressed.
I’ve found talking about stress is similar to talking about pain. Everyone has their own scale.
I’m a big fan of 1-10 scales. Here would be my scale for stress levels (1 being lowest stress, 10 being worst-case scenario.
1. Extremely relaxed, happy, content. Everything is easy. One has no worries.
2. Pretty darn happy. Going about the day - getting things done. Only doing things I want to do.
3. Some stress - but it’s the ordinary “I’ve got to do some things I don’t want to do and I know I can get them done” stress. Still having plenty of time for fun.
4. Feeling as though there are things that need to be accomplished and feeling perfectly able to handle situations. Less fun - more hard work. But still some pride in handling everything one needs to handle.
5. Feeling pressured but not anything that can’t be handled. Prioritizing or taking a break can de-stress the situation
6. Feeling pressured, unsure of the situation but still able to remain in control. Moments of doubt. Lots of Doubt here.
7. Feeling a lot of pressure. Not sure how much can be handled. Need for some action to de-stress and not escalate. Doubt, Worry and some fear
8. Freaking out. Not panicking but lots of worry and fear. Sense of loss of control but can move down the stress scale by a variety of methods.
9. Panic attack. Standard symptoms here. Difficulty breathing. Sweating Palms. Racing Thoughts. Fear of losing it. But not completely out of control. Possibility of reducing stress through breathing, talking to others or of course, drugs (xanax, alcohol, etc.)
10. I call this ‘losing it’. I picture it as crying, screaming, jumping up and down and completely having no ability to calm down. Basically it looks like the only way out is the emergency room, render me unconscious with drugs or sledgehammer. Must crash or shut down and reboot to handle this situation.
Discover the Root of your stress. What events or situations trigger stressful feelings. Are they related to your children, family, health, financial decisions, work, relationships, emotional issues, creative endeavors or something else?
Awareness of Warning signs. When we are enduring too much stress, more than we can handle or are currently equipped to cope with, our bodies give us warning signs. Headaches, muscle tension, recurring pain, frequent colds and sickness, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, or breathing, feeling irritable, angry, out of control, or depressed. Any of these can be warning signs of too much stress.
LEARN how you currently deal with stress. Determine if you are using healthy or unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and over/under eating) to cope. Is this a routine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices because it’s easiest and fastest or because you don’t know what to do in the moment?
IDENTIFY healthy stress management techniques. Ideally you will identify alternative coping methods that work for you that you can utilize to replace some of your unhealthy coping methods. While it may not sound great, some of the old standards truly work. Try taking care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and exercise. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular breaks from work. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself and do something that really feeds who you are— even if it's just simple things like reading a good book or listening to your favorite music. Keep in mind that the unhealthy coping behaviors you use, you’ve developed over time and they can be difficult to change. Don't take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.
FIND ENCOURAGEMENT. Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.