Stress, if not properly managed, can have harmful effects on our mental, emotional and physical health. It is important to practice stress management techniques, several times throughout the day. Even if you don’t feel the obvious signs of stress like; tension, headache or nervousness, you have to know yourself enough to recognize some of the other common indicators like; problems sleeping, frequent feelings of anger, fear, helplessness and even depression.
As the stress takes hold and causes; headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, back pain and shoulder pain, it is also silently stressing blood pressure, pulse rate and breathing.
Stress can contribute to many problems with our physical health such as cardiovascular disease, mental health like depression or opioid addiction, and emotional disturbances such as anxiety and agitation. Studies have found that stress can exacerbate opioid-seeking behavior. Whether it is our workplace, home life or just doing something we’ve never done before, we have to have stress management techniques in place, so we can manage our stress rather than to allow stress to manage us.
First we must be able to identify what it is that is stressing us. One person may become overly tense when driving through rush hour traffic, while another person is completely unaffected. Going to the top of the Empire State Building may conjure up borderline panic in someone afraid of heights, while visiting the Carlsbad Caverns causes stress to someone afraid to venture underground.
Whether our fears are valid or they stem from something completely out of our control, the point of implementing some form of stress management techniques are intended to calm these fears and help us put them in a reasonable perspective. It’s important that we spot and try to manage those things that cause our nerves to rattle us personally, so that the stress doesn’t go unchecked, causing our health to be dangerously affected by that stress. There are certainly things that we can’t control that will cause us stress, but most of the things that stress us out are brought about by things in our day to day lives.
Determine, by looking for the stress warnings, if you are feeling stress. Even mild stress needs to be put in check.
Select as many stress management techniques as you need to implement and set about calming yourself.
You can do one or more of the following:
- Close your eyes (if you can) and picture a calming scene in your mind.
- Control your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths in and let it out slowly.
- Count to ten, or twenty five, or one hundred. Whatever it takes to calm you in a reactive situation.
- Stretching exercises, several times a day, relaxes your muscles and helps alleviate stress.
- Get someone to massage the back of your neck, shoulders and shoulder blades.
- Put on some calming and relaxing music.
- Share with a good friend or a loved one what it is that is causing you stress.
- Take a hot shower or bath.
- Exercise reduces tension and relieves stress. Exercise often.
- If stress has affected you to the point that the other techniques do not work, talk to your doctor.
- Laugh! Find something funny and have a good laugh, it really is good medicine!
Just remember that life throws us all kinds of things. Not everything will happen the way we would like them to. We need to train ourselves to look for the good in what appears to be a bad situation, talk about our difficulties and try not to get enveloped in anything that causes us undue stress.
Learning practical stress management techniques is imperative to our good health and our well being.