Strategies to Manage and Prevent Stress

Stress is a common issue encountered by a large portion of the population in today’s world. It is the body’s reaction to changes around us that require response and adjustment. However, as excessive stress can be harmful to our health, it is important to know about the strategies to manage and prevent stress.

The responses to stress are at the emotional, mental or physical level. It is important to note that stress very much a part of normal life. However, excessive stress can be deteriorating to the person’s wellbeing and requires attention. Stress can arise from the immediate environment, from the body and also from thoughts. Sometimes even positive changes around us can produce stress such as promotion, childbirth, mortgages, work, and home pressure, etc.

The human body is designed to withstand stress under normal circumstances. However, excessive stress can alter a person’s internal equilibrium leading to physical and emotional disturbances. Stress can be of 2 types: positive and negative. Positive stress helps us stay alert and motivated. It helps us avoid danger. Negative stress builds up when a person faces constant challenges without relaxation between the stressors. This results in the person being overworked and build-up of tension.

The human body responds to stress by the “fight or flight response”; but this is in an emergency situation. In negative stress, this response becomes chronic and can have a negative impact on the body at an emotional as well as the physical level. Stress can cause stomach issues, headaches, and increase in blood pressure, sexual dysfunction and body pain. At an emotional level, stress can cause a panic attack, anxiety, and depression. Considering the negative effects of stress in the mind and body, it is very essential to manage stress. Hence, knowing about the strategies to manage and prevent stress is very essential.

Strategies to Manage and Prevent Stress

The key to stress management is realizing that you are in control of your life. It is all about taking charge of your own thoughts, emotions, environment and everything causing stress. The main aim of stress management is to attain a balanced life with adequate time for family, work and self along with the strength to withstand pressure and challenges faced.

Some of the keys strategies to cope up with stress are listed below:

Identifying Stressors:

It is important to identify the stressors in life and work towards avoiding it. Not all situations can be avoided and thus not all stressors related to that situation can be eliminated completed. This is one of the most basic strategies to manage and prevent stress.

However, the following simple strategies can help in reducing the impact. These steps will help you in doing so:

  • Learning to Say ‘No’: It is important to understand your limits and sticking to them firmly. Sometimes it is necessary to reject added responsibilities to avoid stress – be it in work life or personal life.
  • Avoid People who Cause Stress: It is advised to have minimal or no contact with people who cause stress and discomfort in life. Sometimes it may be required to end the relationship for good.
  • Take Control of your Environment: If certain things in life cause tension and anxiety, such as evening news, traffic, crowded places; it is best to avoid being in such a situation.

Altering the Situation to Manage and Prevent Stress:

One of the other important strategies to manage and prevent stress is to alter the situation to suit you. If a situation cannot be avoided, steps should be taken to alter it. This may involve changing the way of communication and operation in daily life.

It is advised to express your feelings rather than suppressing them within you. Often, voicing out your concerns in a respectful manner can help in altering the situation. Compromising and finding a middle path. If a situation cannot be altered, sometimes it may be necessary to talk it out and find a middle ground which works for both. It may require some amount of compromising from both ends.

Learn to be more assertive, rather than being submissive or aggressive. When a situation is anticipated, steps should be taken to best avoid it.

Stress is often caused by poor management of time. Consider planning ahead of time and manage tasks better to avoid unnecessary stress.

Adapting to Stressors to Manage and Prevent Stress:

If the stressor or the situation cannot be changed or altered, it is advised to lower the expectation from the situation and adapt to the stressor. This is the next step in the tips and strategies to manage and prevent stress.

Sometimes it is advised to look at the situation from a positive angle and change the perspective.

Understand that the situation may be short-lived and will die down after a while.

Lowering standards and setting reasonable expectation from the stressor can help in reducing the overall impact. Focusing on the positive outcome rather than the negative outcome is often helpful.

Accepting Things That Cannot Be Changed:

Strategies to manage and prevent stress also extend to finding ways to change yourself, if needed. Quite often things are beyond our control and cannot be changed. Adapting to such situation can also be very difficult. In such cases, it is best to accept the situation and work around them smartly. Rather than focussing on the things that cannot be changed, it is advised to focus on things that can be changed such as the reaction to the situation. Analyze if the situation has arisen from your own mistakes, if yes, work towards changing yourself rather than the situation. Talking to a friend or a therapist often helps in reducing stress. In some situation, forgiveness solves the situation.

Making Time for Fun and Relaxation:

A positive mind and relaxed mind helps in the management of stress. Some easy ways to relax the mind are listed below:

  • Going for a brisk walk
  • Meeting a friend
  • Spending time with nature
  • Meditation
  • Listening to music
  • Reading a good book
  • Taking a long bath
  • Writing a journal
  • Getting a message
  • Watching a comedy
  • Playing with a pet.

It is important to take some time out for yourself every day and indulge in things that divert our mind and makes us happy and stress-free.

Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle:

A healthy lifestyle can help in strengthening the resistance to stress by making you stronger.1 This too is one of the most essential strategies to manage and prevent stress.

Some of the ways to lead a healthy stress-free lifestyle are listed below:

  • Staying physically active and exercising regularly
  • Following a healthy nutritious diet with adequate hydration
  • Limiting caffeine intake and sugar in your diet
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption, smoking, and recreational drugs
  • Providing adequate rest to the body with adequate sleep.

Prolonged stress can affect the mind and also cause various physical health problems. Taking care of your mind is equally important while taking care of your body. Hence, it is essential to adopt strategies to manage and prevent stress.

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