Everyone experiences stress at one point or another. Stress itself is not always a bad thing, since in particular situations it can make a person more alert and focused. However, long term or chronic stress can be harmful and can lead to mental and physical complications, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle as well as anxiety and other emotional and mental disorders. Learning to manage stress is vital to maintain a balanced, healthy life.
Stress is caused by many different factors, and the reactions to these factors vary slightly from person to person. However, some of the most common factors are significant positive and negative life events such as weddings, pregnancies, new babies, major moves, divorce and death. Other culprits include problems at work or school, illnesses and legal problems. Most men and women also have ways of managing stress differently, since men tend to escape stress by focusing on some relaxing activity while women tend to seek out friends and the support system they offer. No matter what type of management response is preferred, the important thing is to make time to manage it, let off steam, relax and renew every day.
Stress management can take many forms. Women’s Health suggests several ways to prevent stress from becoming overwhelming. These include:
- Identifying the problem: If a person can figure out the activities or situations that are causing stress, then she can find ways to deal with them in a manner that does not bring additional tension into her life. This technique will help the person build self-confidence as a problem solver who is in control of her own life, which can help with those undesirable feelings of anxiety. Not all problems can be solved right away and accepting this will also help with stress management.
- Organizing: Having an organized schedule that clearly marks the important activities and making daily, manageable to-do lists will help to prevent over-scheduling and over-committing, both of which can cause stress.
- Exercising: While for some people the idea of having to include exercise in an already full schedule can become another source of stress, the truth is that adding exercise to their routine does help with stress. Even setting aside 15 to 30 minutes a night for stretching and yoga, for example, can have a big impact on the way the body and mind respond to stress.
- Sleeping.: People often find themselves cutting into their sleeping hours to make up for the time they feel they still need to complete important tasks. But a person needs to sleep about eight hours a day to properly rest and refresh. Losing this time only leads to more stress the next day, when the person then begins their day already exhausted.
- Eating right: A balanced, healthy diet that provides all the necessary nutrients is another way to combat stress.
- Taking five minutes to breathe, relax and renew:. This is a technique everyone should include in their daily routine no matter how packed it seems.