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Stress Management Techniques | Dealing With Your Tension Now


Astrid Tran 06 February, 2024 8 min read

It seems like nothing can stop stress from coming to you. But the good news is there is always a way to help reduce and relieve stress.

It is all about stress management techniques. Is it easy to implement or effective? The answer is you need to find it on your own. But fear not, here are tips to help you manage your stress more simply and more effectively. It is never too late to start to take care of your mental health, dealing with your tension now or never.

What are the techniques for stress management? - Image: Freepik

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The Concept of Stress Management 

Who is never stressed? Who has been in a lot of stress. Yes, most of us are. Stress comes naturally, we can avoid it. It is a common response to challenging situations. It's a survival instinct that's been hardwired into our DNA for thousands of years. Our bodies have evolved to react to stress as a survival mechanism. Today, we don't fight against it like our ancestors used to do, we learn to be its friend. 

In the speech "How to make stress a friend", psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, that stress won't be bad unless we see it as a bad thing. Studies show if we can't think of stress in a different way, our body and mind can respond to it differently. 

positive stress management techniques
Positive stress management techniques | Image: Freepik

The Importance of Stress Management

The importance of stress management cannot be overstated, even more so in our current fast-paced and high-pressure society. Effectively managing stress can have profound benefits in:

  • Health Preservation: Chronic stress can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Effective stress management is essential to prevent these conditions and maintain overall health.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: Managing stress effectively leads to improved mood, higher energy levels, and better sleep, all of which contribute to a better quality of life. When stress is under control, life’s challenges become more manageable, and daily activities are more enjoyable.
  • Improved Productivity and Performance: High-stress levels can impair concentration, decision-making, and productivity. By managing stress, individuals can enhance their focus, creativity, and efficiency, both at work and in personal endeavors.
  • Emotional Stability: Stress can cause irritability, anxiety, and mood swings. Effective stress management helps in maintaining emotional balance, fostering healthier relationships, and promoting a more positive outlook on life.
  • Prevention of Burnout: Particularly in high-demand careers, managing stress is key to preventing burnout – a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.

Steps to Choose an Appropriate Stress Management Technique

Managing stress can take many forms. Here's how to select the right technique that helps you better handle stress.

Identify Your Stressors

Begin by pinpointing the specific sources of your stress. This initial step is critical as it helps in identifying the root causes of your stress, which is essential for choosing the most effective management strategies.

Observe when and where you typically feel the most stressed. Is it at work during high-pressure situations? Or perhaps at home due to family responsibilities? Maybe it's certain social situations or financial worries that trigger your stress.

Keep a stress journal for a week or two, noting the occasions, times, and circumstances when you feel stressed. This practice will provide you with a clearer picture of the patterns and common themes in your stressors, making it easier to address them directly with targeted stress management techniques. Understanding the specific triggers is the first step in developing a personalized and effective plan to reduce and manage your stress.

Assess Your Stress Level & Situation

Evaluate the intensity of your stress. Different levels of stress may require different approaches – for instance, deep breathing might be sufficient for mild stress, whereas more intense stress might need a combination of therapy and relaxation techniques.

what is stress management woman laptop
Keep your stress levels in check at all times.

Also, reflect on what relaxation methods resonate with you. Do you prefer physical activity, quiet meditation, or creative expression? Your personal preferences, along with your daily routine and lifestyle, will influence which techniques are most suitable and sustainable for you.

Pick Compatible Techniques and Try

Choose stress management techniques to try based on previous assessments. It's advised to experiment with various stress management strategies.

Here are some techniques to consider:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness meditation to stay present and reduce worry about the past or future. This can involve guided meditations, using apps or online resources, or simply spending time each day focusing on your breath and being aware of your thoughts without judgment.
  • Physical Exercise: Engage in regular physical activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or any sport you enjoy. Exercise releases endorphins, which act as natural stress relievers. However, certain types of exercise may not be suitable for everyone. It’s important to consider your physical limitations and consult with a healthcare provider if necessary.
  • Yoga and Tai Chi: These practices combine physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to reduce stress and improve flexibility and balance. They are particularly effective for those who prefer a gentler approach to physical activity.
  • Deep Breathing Techniques: Learn deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing or the 4-7-8 technique, which can be done anywhere and are effective in managing acute stress.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body, which helps in releasing physical tension and calming the mind.
  • Time Management Skills: If your stress is related to feeling overwhelmed or under pressure, improving your time management skills can be very beneficial. This includes learning to prioritize tasks, setting realistic goals, and breaking larger projects into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Journaling: Writing about your thoughts and feelings can be a therapeutic way to handle stress. It allows you to express and process your emotions, leading to clarity and stress relief.
  • Creative Arts: Engaging in creative activities like painting, drawing, music, or crafting can be a relaxing and fulfilling way to manage stress.
  • Social Support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups to share your feelings and experiences. Sometimes, just talking about what you are going through can be a huge relief.
  • Professional Help: If your stress feels unmanageable, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor who can provide personalized techniques and support.

Evaluate the Effectiveness

Once you’ve tried a few techniques, assess their effectiveness. How do you feel during and after the activity? Has your stress reduced over time? How did your body feel in the hours or even days after the activity? For example, did you experience a sustained reduction in physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches or stomach issues?

what is startup culture like
There's no one-size-fits-all recipe when it comes to coping with stress.

By answering these questions, you can gauge the immediate and lasting impacts of each technique on your stress levels. If they have little to no effect, consider trying another technique.

Keep It Consistent

Dealing with stress is all about consistency. Choosing techniques that can be realistically integrated into your daily or weekly routine can greatly improve the effectiveness of the stress management technique. Turn these practices into habits. Set specific times for your stress management activities and try to stick to them. To make it fun, organize a group session or rotate different techniques.

Be Flexible and Open to Change

Lastly, it's important to change and adapt to varying situations. Over time, your stressors and reactions to stress may change. That means the stress management technique you use can quickly become obsolete. To always keep stress levels in check, regularly evaluate how well your chosen techniques fit into your life and how effective they are. Be open to trying new methods or adjusting your routine to better suit your evolving needs.

Key Takeaways

Stress doesn't discriminate, and even the strongest among us can find themselves grappling with it. Ultimately, the goal is not just to manage stress, but to thrive in spite of it, as mentioned above, make stress your friend. Hope this article will find you well, and may you find the strength and resilience to master stress and unlock your true potential.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of stress management skill?

The most common and easy stress management skill is to control deep breathing. By focusing on your breath and taking slow, deep breaths, you can calm your nervous system and reduce stress.

What are 5 effective ways to manage stress?

Five effective ways to manage stress include practicing mindfulness, engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and seeking social support.

What are stress management techniques and methods?

Stress management techniques and methods are strategies and practices used to reduce and cope with stress. They include mindfulness, relaxation, physical activities, cognitive-behavioral techniques, and seeking professional help when needed.

What are the 4 a's of stress management?

Avoid, Alter, Adapt or Accept

Ref: Helfguide | Ted talks