Stress management is easier said than done! For some, ultimately, stress management becomes a point of stress ☹ It’s not like people ask for stress or want it in their lives. It is something that none can escape from unless one masters the techniques of emotional control. To manage stress better, it is important to understand it and know the signs and symptoms. It is also important to know when to seek help. At times, what you feel may not just be stress and maybe burnout. So, is stress psychological or does it manifest physically? Why is it so tough to know when we are under stress or what causes it? Let’s understand the stress a bit more to find answers to these questions.
Effect of stress
Perhaps, many of us can easily identify with ‘feeling stressful’ as being tensed when something is not right. You are unable to relax or focus on something. You may be feeling irritated, angry, unable to sleep or a few people even complain of headaches and migraines due to stress.
It is essential to understand that stress is the body’s natural response to a situation that has been tagged hazardous, dangerous, or uncertain. Stress is more physical than we give it credit for. The hypothalamus in our brain sends out some signals to our nervous system and kidneys. The kidney releases some stress hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol. That’s the adrenaline rush we feel.
The physical symptoms stress can cause are sweat, feeling hot, digestive issues, headaches, breathlessness, acne or skin rashes, hair loss, irregular menstrual cycles in women, sexual issues, infertility, diabetes, ulcers, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart issues, fatigue, etc. That’s a whopping list and we may not even be relating all these to stress! While few experience insomnia, few sleep even during the daytime due to stress. Women are more prone to stress than men and it can also affect your mood and life in totality.
If it causes so many physical issues and can lead to even depression and diseases, stress cannot be good. Statistics say stress is closely linked to death causes such as cancer, heart and lung diseases, suicide, accidents, and a few more. Most stress that we feel in our everyday life can be managed rather easily with some practised techniques. Everyone finds and adapts a few de-stressing techniques.
What is important is to know that stress is inevitable in our lives. However, when we experience burnout, it needs attention. Burnout results when we undergo stress for a long period without knowing how to cope. It is when one day we feel that we just cannot take it any longer, and need an escape. It’s like a complete breakdown and we feel we cannot go further without help. If we feel helpless, feel isolated, and feel that facing another day is a Herculean task, then it’s burnout and a sign to seek help. It is a known fact that stress causes depression as well. Hence, if we seek help on time, we may be able to get back to normal life faster and feel better equipped to cope with similar situations. Ideally, it should be professional help supported by family and societal stigma should not stop us from doing so.
Stress management techniques
Most people talk about long-term techniques when discussing stress management. Techniques like yoga, meditation, gardening, walks, practising mindfulness, therapies like aromatherapy, writing therapy, pet therapy, more, etc.
However, at times, we are so badly in need of short-term stress management techniques. Suddenly, we feel stressed about something and need a way to calm ourselves down. Chewing gum is a short-term stress-reducing technique and it helps a few people. Having a favourite cup of tea is also helpful to relax and reduce stress for many. Inhaling the aroma of stress-busting essential oils can be instantly relaxing and you can keep a small bottle handy. Apply it on a pad or handkerchief and inhale deeply. Deep breathing exercises are another way to bring down stress instantly.
You could also give yourself a hand massage as hands feel a lot of stress and can relax when massaged. Few people carry a stress ball to squeeze when feeling stressed. Eating chocolates also help bring down the stress hormones or you may want to try gulping a spoonful of honey! Letting yourself out into the sun or looking at a spot of greenery can also instantly bring down stress levels. For some people, chanting their favourite mantra can help bring calmness and confidence.
Remember some basic principles to handle stress. Touch, feel, listen, inhale, taste, all these are ways that help bring down stress. Simply put, use your senses to counter the stress instantly and do not let it grow to gargantuan levels.