Do you sometimes find yourself at the end of your tether? That moment when you are about to pull your hair out because nothing seems to be going as it should? Do you lose your breath and feel like the walls are closing in on you? These are some of the indicators that you are having a stressful day.
Being stressed and constantly under pressure is not very healthy for the body. Muscle groups around the head, neck, shoulders, and lower back tend to tense up, leading to migraines and tension-type headaches. Psychological stressors intensify breathing problems as the body does not receive adequate oxygen, leading to hyperventilation or even panic attacks.
When you are stressed, your brain releases adrenaline, cortisol, and nor-adrenaline. These chemicals increase your heart rate and heart muscle contractions, which, in the long term, can lead to damaged blood vessels, hypertension, stroke, or heart attacks. Stress negatively influences the male reproductive system, especially sperm production and maturation. In ladies, stress has been associated with irregular or absent menstrual cycles, while maternal stress is known to affect fetal and ongoing childhood development negatively.
Identifying the panic button
Stress can manifest itself in different forms. Some of the symptoms of a full-blown stress-related meltdown include:
- Constant feelings of fear, apprehension, and anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating on simple tasks
- Feeling overwhelmed by situations
- Mood swings – short-tempered or highly irritable
- Depression and low self-esteem
- Muscle tension
- Loss of sex drive
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
- Abusing alcohol or drugs to relax
How to Handle Stress and High-Pressure Situations
When your head starts pounding, and your chest feels tight like the onset of a panic attack, keep calm, take a step back and breath. There are a variety of life lessons and tips that can help get you out of that moment of panic. We have broken it down from things you can do to avoid being stressed out all the time to what to do when the stress takes over.
1. Identify the source of your stress
Do you sometimes feel like you are on the losing end of a dodge-ball contest with all the pressures of life coming at you with the speed of a ball served by Serena Williams? Try not to cringe or duck. Grab one of those balls and sincerely ask yourself, “How important is this? Will the world end if I do not finish this task? Will this problem matter in six months? Can I practically fix this problem at this precise moment?”
If you can sort out the problem, write down a list of possible solutions with pros and cons, and pick the one that works for you. If the problem has no solution and you can fix it later, take it off your to-do list.
By continually keeping a record of both little and large hassles you face during the day compared to significantly stressful events in your life, you get to keep track and learn your stressors as well as how to manage them.
Try out our guide “Highly Effective Stress Management Activities That Work” for simple activities you can do to handle daily stress.
2. Change your mindset from worrying to caring
Let’s say, for example, that you are out of town on a business meeting and you forgot to organize for someone to water your plants for you. You can sit there and worry about it, picturing the leaves beginning to wilt as the hours go by. When you finally get back home, your plant will either be hanging on to dear life or passed over. Worrying about the plant is not watering the plant.
Caring, however, is about doing things that support the best interests of the person or thing that we care about. Caring would be getting a message to the neighbor or family member to check on your plant.
In the same way, it does not help anyone if all you do is worry about your finances. Take the necessary steps to care about your finances by creating budgets, paying bills on time, and reducing unnecessary expenditures.
3. Protect your time by creating boundaries
Are you a people pleaser? Do you find yourself doing errands for other people that do not contribute in any way to your future or well-being? It may sound a little harsh, but you need to cut back on volunteering for too many causes that prevent you from spending quality time on essential tasks or with friends and family.
You could cut back on the weekly face-to-face meeting and discuss things over a great phone call or email, lessening your workload for the day. By writing down a list of things you need to get done during the day, you can identify tasks that are negotiable and deal with them at another time.
Need some tips to staying calm in your place of work? Check out “9 Tips to Help You Be More Positive at Work” for more info.
4. Forget the martyr tendencies and take it easy on yourself
While you cannot control the dire state of the economy, what your boss does, or what your in-laws say, you are in charge of how you react to situations, how you accomplish work tasks, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.
You need to be able to accept that some things will be beyond your control. You are under no obligation to accept every request made of you. Know your priorities and values, and if the task is not essential to you, learn to say no.
Take a break when you need it. Rest if you are tired. Set yourself reasonable expectations. (Do not undertake new financial responsibilities when you know very well that you will not handle the stress and pressure and even may break the bank).
5. Talk to someone
It could be your favorite uncle, a religious leader, or a qualified psychologist, but the doctors all say that you must talk to someone. When the feelings of stress and pressure start to bubble inside you, it helps to speak to someone you trust so that you can handle the situation.
Find someone who makes you comfortable enough to speak out about what is stressing you. Express your feelings about your opinion, beliefs, and standpoints. If you have disagreed with a family member or colleague, talk through the issue early before it festers and brews into something more serious and harder to solve.
Remember that sometimes, it’s not about the advice you may receive but rather getting the issue off your chest so you can breathe a little easier again.
6. Move it! Indulge in physical activity
We are not saying take all your stress and pressure to the gym, although that is not a bad idea to handle them. When you feel stressed out, your brain releases adrenalin and cortisol, which are your ‘fight or flight’ hormones. Physical exercise helps to metabolize these stress hormones, leaving your mind and body in a more relaxed state.
Just 30 minutes of physical activity will release endorphins, which are the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Simple actions like walking the dog, dancing, cycling, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator will rejuvenate your body and break the progression of negative thoughts. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are great for helping your body and mind relax.
7. Nobody is perfect – Embrace your mistakes
Trying to be a perfectionist can add to your stress and pressure levels even to a point you can’t handle them anymore. It is impossible to try living your life without making mistakes. To add to that, it is physically exhausting walking on eggshells all day, trying not to offend anyone.
A researcher named Brene Brown wrote in her book; The Gifts Of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be And Embrace Who You Are, that “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism hampers success and is often the path to depression, addiction, and self-paralysis. Perfection is NOT about healthy achievement and growth.
Endeavor to be compassionate to yourself when you make a mistake and try to learn and grow from it.
Check out our fun guide “The 11 Most Influential Business Books (Build & Grow)” to find a good inspirational read to boost your motivation.
8. Healthy body + healthy mind = stress-free living
Food affects our moods. What you consume daily can determine whether your stress levels are up or down. While binge eating can destroy your body in the long run, when we are hungry, our concentration levels are low while the panic hormones are in overdrive.
Having a balanced diet that includes lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains helps to counterbalance the impact of stress by strengthening our immune systems, stabilizing moods, and reducing blood pressure.
9. Create your coping toolbox
Not everything mentioned here may work for you. You need to try and decide which method of coping works best for you. Stress can be physically, mentally, and emotionally overpowering, and you need to learn to control it. Here are some quick tips to ease stress:
- Breathe – Sit in a chair and put one hand on your belly and the other one on your chest. Breathe slowly and deeply, ensuring that the hand on the belly is moving up and down and not the hand on your chest.
- Minimize, outsource, or reduce your chores – If someone can help reduce your to-do list, jump on the opportunity. Shop online instead of fighting with traffic. If you can afford it, hire someone to clean your house while you spend time with your children.
- Keep a stress diary to help you be more aware of things or situations that increase your stress levels.
- Have a cup of tea. Warm drinks with chamomile, mint, barley, passionflower, and valerian root have a soothing effect on the body.
- Have a glass of water to sharpen your mind, even if you are not thirsty.
- Cultivate a sense of humor, laugh, and have some dark chocolate. It helps.
Thank you for reading with us today! Let us know in the comments below your stress management tips as well. Be sure to check out more content from our BMC library like “7 Motivational Books to Hand Out to Your Employees” or “Everything You Need to Know About Workforce Optimization“.
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