10 Strategies to Reduce Stress.
“Give your stress wings and let it fly away”
Being stressed is an emotion that we all have encountered and encounter in everyday life. It is a very normal and natural human reaction that happens to everyone. It's an emotion that leaves us feeling overwhelmed, and unable to cope with mental and emotional pressures. Stress is also a natural defense that our body uses naturally uses to defend ourselves, when in stress our body floods with hormones to prepare our system to fight it or to fight the situation.
When humans face challenges or any kind of threat their body also reacts and it too has some sought of a physical response.
The body produces large quantities of the chemicals cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine which triggers certain physical reactions such as:
- Increased Blood pressure
- Heart Palpitations
- Dryness in mouth
Some common types of Stress are as below:
- Acute stress: This is the most common type of stress. Acute stress develops due to any particular stressful event, here symptoms develop quickly but do not last for a long time. For eg: Natural calamity, any unexpected news, etc.
- Episodic acute stress: When an individual experiences bouts of acute stress frequently.
- Chronic stress: This is a type of stress which is psychological and physiological induced by long-term internal or external stressors. A consistent feeling of being under pressure or a feeling of being overwhelmed.
How stress affects the brain.
Stress has negative effects on our body and brain. Research has found that stress can produce a wide range of effects on the brain which range from the contribution of mental illnesses to shrinking the size of the brain.
- Chronic stress can increase Mental Illnesses
- Stress changes the brain’s structure
- Stress can shrink brain size
- Stress affects Memory
Strategies to calm down ourselves or to reduce stress
- Practicing Mindfulness - A mental state achieved by focusing on one’s awareness in the present moment and also by acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
- Exercise every day – Many studies have proven the health benefits of working out or at least doing some kind of physical or mental activity as they act as stress relievers. Recent research has proven to strengthen muscles and release enzymes that detoxify substances called kynurenine which is also a byproduct of stress and inflammation.
- Stop Wishful Thinking and start Mental Contrasting – According to New York University Professor Gabriele Oettingen (German Psychologist), positive thinking is not all which will help in the process. While just trying to envision what you want to happen can make us feel better, instead, it's counterproductive since you are less likely to make an effort to make your wish come true. She suggested a mental contrasting tool WOOP, Wish, Outcome, Obstacles, and Plan. To do it one has to shut their eyes, imagine their wish and the outcome they are expecting along with it the obstacles in their way, and finally envision their plan to reach their goal.
- Consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids – Countless studies have linked our mood to what we eat or we can say what we eat/ our diet has a great impact on our mood, similarly, researchers like Joseph Rhibblen (Adult Psychiatrist) have linked stress with inflammation. Eating foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish, chia seeds, and flax seeds helps a ton in reducing inflammation, it is known to make the stress system more flexible and manageable.
- Relaxation Techniques – Meditation, Yoga, Guided Imagery, Deep breathing exercises, Progressive muscles relaxation, etc are some of the powerful relaxation techniques and stress busters.
- Nurture Yourself – Psychologists pressure the idea of taking time out for self-care and self and also swear by it. The idea here is to nurture ourselves by looking after our own self-care, and hygiene (psychologically and physiologically both). Some of the examples are taking a vacation, booking an appointment for a massage, spending time with pets, disconnecting from technology for a few days to rejuvenate yourself, making time and doing something you always wanted to, and making a list of short and long term goals.
- Ask for Help – A lot of times no matter what we do to reduce our stressful situations it may not be 100 percent or we may not be able to feel relaxed and that feeling of constant pressure and overwhelmedness will still linger. At this point, it becomes very important and necessary to seek professional help. At first, it may sound weird or it won't sink in since seeking help has always been looked down in a way as a fear of being a burden, fear of being judged, fear of being too needy, etc. But it is not a sign of weakness but a sign of being brave. When we aren't able to manage our stress it is better to seek professional help .
- Time Management – It is a very important key in reducing stress on many levels. Time management is a process of planning and organizing how can you divide your time between different allocated work or activities.
- Getting enough sleep - It is seen you are most vulnerable to stress when you don't get enough sleep or when the sleep cycle has gone haywire. 7 hours of sleep is a must to strike a perfect balance.
- Avoid Alcohol and substance – While certain studies have shown how alcohol can reduce the magnitude of an organism's response to stress and this reduction is known as the stress response dampening effect (SRD). But to the surprise of many researchers, the relationship between alcohol and stress was inconsistent, and later on in some studies alcohol did not affect any stress response instead showed an increased level of dependency, agitation, mood swings, and irregular sleep patterns which in turn can affect an individual on greater intensity if already experiencing stress.
Benefits of exercise for managing stress. Find a mental health counsellor
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De stress the stressors of life. Seek help from a mental health counsellor
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