Life can be stressful at times, and there is really no way around it. Since chronic stress has been linked to everything from an increased risk of heart disease to chronic pain, it is imperative you find positive ways to manage it. Here are some tips for handling stress that anyone can use to make themselves mentally and physically healthier.
#1. Understand your Triggers
Handling stress isn’t truly possible unless you first learn what is causing you to become anxious in the first place. There are online tools to help you identify triggers, and speaking with a therapist might also be beneficial. Some people are even able to identify triggers by keeping a journal of their feelings and experiences.
#2. Eliminate or Avoid Triggers
Once you have identified your triggers, you can then take measures to reduce or avoid them. For example, you may discover that financial problems are a major cause of stress or that you are overwhelmed with too much too to do and need to streamline your schedule. Even avoiding small stressors such as driving during rush hour can allow you to feel more relaxed, so do not feel as though you have to make major changes in order to feel better.
Research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America shows that physical activity such as exercise can assist you with handling stress by releasing endorphins into the brain. Many people also derive a great deal of satisfaction from aggressive activities such as smashing a tennis ball or hitting a punching bag. Just going for a walk whenever you feel stressed can help you clear your head and better focus on the things you should be most concerned about.
#4. Develop Positive Coping Skills
Many times, external conditions are not at all to blame for our bad attitudes, but rather internal stressors such as fear or negative thoughts. As such, developing a positive attitude can be one of the most effective ways of handling any stress that cannot be avoided. Research from the University of North Carolina suggests that experiencing positive emotions causes you to see a greater number of possibilities, and may even allow you to build skill sets that can later be used to broaden your horizons. Using coping skills such as meditating, doing deep breathing exercises, or diverting your thoughts might also help you ward off panic attacks.
#5. Lean on others for support
Let’s face it, there will be times when handling stress on your own just will not be possible. During those times, having someone available to provide support and/or assistance with problem situations can prove invaluable. Researchers from the National Center for PTSD, Clinical Neurosciences Division claim that having good social support is a prerequisite to good physical and psychological health. If you are lacking social support, joining a religious organization or other support group can provide you with someone to lean on whenever the going gets rough.
Learning to handle stress is something we all must do. Fortunately, these five ways have been proven very effective at helping people manage unexpected stressful situations no matter where or when they arise.