How to Manage Stress? Try These Expert Strategies!

Managing stress sounds like a difficult thing to do. It gives stress a lot of credit, a lot of power. It allows stress to become the priority in the human experience. It takes the focus away from the necessary and important emotions and feelings that arise when stress or the signature signs of stress present themselves.

Is stress an emotion or a feeling? If you allow this concept to be considered, stress does not exist unless it is accompanied by an emotion or feeling. Stress may not appear unless the response to the emotion or feeling is considered unhelpful or unwanted. There may be emotions/feelings of concern, worry, being overwhelmed, nervousness, sadness, impatient, anger, irritability and anticipation. One of the ways to manage stress or even skills to manage stress would be to understand how these accompanying emotions affect you.

So, when I am asked about ways to manage stress, I ask the client if they know what specifically causes it, as it may be many different things (work, people, events, actions, situations) and what the related thoughts, emotions or feeling that is creating discomfort.

Developing a better relationship with the feelings and emotions associated with when ‘stress’ arises would be an effective way to manage stress. Even before learning strategies to cope with stress, understanding the cause of your stress is a great place to start.

Looking at this curiously, investigating the reasons why you react this way, can create separation between you and the source. This is done by developing an awareness of your stress, noticing the accompanying or igniting thoughts and understanding how it affects your body i.e., sweaty palms, increased heart rate, fidgety, feeling nervous and agitated, energy in the body, warmth, or coolness.

Here are a few common questions I asked about stress and the answers I often give in response. Naturally, every circumstance is different and exclusive to the individual, however experiencing stress – emotions and feelings is a shared human experience.

How do I manage stress?

Understanding the cause of your stress is a great place to start.  This will lead you to the accompanying thoughts, feelings and emotions that arise and become difficult or unwanted when this occurs.  Learning to acknowledge signs of stress and how to manage these emotions (develop a better relationship with them) before they become heavy is an effective strategy to manage stress.  

What are the ways to manage stress?

Regulate your breath.  Become aware of your breathing, and notice the physical nature of your body breathing.  Follow the inhale and the exhale, this will allow it to return to its calm natural state.  Recognize that this is a common human response, and it will pass. It does not mean something is wrong with you, quite the contrary.  Learn and implement mindfulness strategies that return you to the present moment.

What are some tips to manage stress?

An effective tip to manage stress is reducing the circumstances that create stress, such as prioritising your commitments and engagements.  Prioritise self-care and minimize engaging in projects that have deadlines.

Become curious about the triggers that create stress and identify the reasons why this situation, person or event has this effect on you.  

This is relevant when dealing with work stress.  Is it the work itself the people/customers the travel time or the hours or responsibilities or your experience (compared to the experience) or is it your state of well-being? This would be an effective tip to manage work stress. Understand the reason and cause of this unhelpful feeling.

Can you teach me skills to manage stress?

There are many available skills to manage stress.  I believe everyone has the personal resources to manage stress, and the skills to reduce or even prevent it from hurting their life.

Here are some practices that help, that require the skill of discipline and a commitment to yourself.

Establishing a simple daily meditation or mindfulness practice helps restore the body to a calm state.  It can give you insights and a different perspective of your situation, allowing the bigger picture to be seen

Spend time with family, friends and people in your life that make you feel relaxed and good about yourself.

Focus on your general health – exercise regularly and eat healthy food.

Talk about your feelings and emotions or write them down.

At Mindful Health Counselling, I give stress management counselling and teach techniques. Stress does not need to be a condition that controls your life. It can be present in your life and be used as an effective reminder that it is time to stop and rest.  Time to treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
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