Life is a fantastic gift that we have been given. Having the privilege to wake up, take a walk from place to place, and mainly do everything we get to every day, is a blessing.
However, sometimes, we encounter a scenario that weighs us down. As humans, we are built in a way that we can get over it, but sometimes it overwhelms and overpower us.
And such circumstances cause stress.
In its simplest of definitions, stress is an in-build defense mechanism that our body uses when it senses danger. The exposure to such insecurities may arise from a situation, a person, or even a thought. It is weird, but stress is sometimes all in the mind. You imagined it; therefore, you feel it, believe it, and it makes you sad.
The Types Of Stress
Before we get to the ways to sort out tension and our stress management activities, we first have to go through the different types of stress that we humans encounter.
Acute Stress is perhaps the most common form of stress experienced by people. It is triggered by basically anything you find off or one that does not fit your liking. Almost everyone on this earth has had acute stress at some point in their lives.
Current situations are the number one trigger to acute stress.
For instance, when someone is at work and is bombarded by the result of an evaluation test taken of them that isn’t pleasant, they become stressed. The result is the same if another is called in by the HR manager promptly.
These two people are easily distracted and are thrown off their game as now they are thinking, what did they do wrong? Why them? How did this happen? Are they getting fired? And so many more questions.
Both of these scenarios are not conclusive, and there are so many unknowns. But to the subjects, it is the potential to impending danger. And this, stresses them out.
Acute stress being the most prevalent type of stress and the most basic one, the reactions are not severe that one may need to go to the hospital.
These symptoms include:
- racy heart
- high blood pressure
- dry mouth
Acute stress is the most uncomplicated, and most cases will not require medical intervention. Once you realize you cannot control anything and hope for the best, the stress fades away.
Episodic acute stress
As seen earlier, acute stress is sorted fast, but on occasions that it keeps happening more often than not, it becomes episodic acute stress. This kind of stress occurs when you are regularly exposed to the causative stress agents and trigger your reactions over and over during your day. And there is so little you can do to change them.
These triggers may be a person who is always on your neck, like a bully at school or your boss at work. Some causes may be circumstantial such as ones caused by finances or sickness.
For instance, paying off your rent at the end of each month may stress you out as you have no idea how you are getting the money. So that as every new month begins, the stress commences. In the event that your loved one gets sick, anxiety takes over as you are in constant worry if they will be okay, or if you will be able to foot the bill.
Just like acute stress, this also can be controlled.
However, if someone oughts to indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms, it becomes a problem. Such include binge drinking, overeating, or hanging on to bad habits and bad relationships. When a person is suffering from episodic acute stress, it leads to a much severe type which may result in heart disease or clinical depression.
This is perhaps the most dangerous form of pressure that may have been grinding on a person for months and in extreme cases, years. Chronic stress involves an endocrine system response in which corticosteroids are released.
This hormone released in small amounts is healthy as it beneficial when one is encountering an immediate danger. It is, however, very dangerous if one is exposed to this hormone long term. It may result in heart disease, damage to tissue muscle, suppression to the immune system, and consequently mental health deterioration.
Continuous exposure to chronic stress may increase the affected person’s risk of a number of psychiatric disorders. When one gets to this point of having chronic stress, they have entirely given up on their situation and have opted to succumb to it ultimately.
Symptoms of chronic stress
- extreme anxiety
- social isolation
Causes of chronic stress
The causes of chronic stress are ones that people perceive they have little or no control over. Well, there is some truth to this, but a person’s reaction to the situation could be the only cure for chronic stress. Chronic stress may result from a person’s personality, such as the ability to be a pessimist as opposed to optimistic. Their ego-related traits are also a factor that includes self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-control.
Other likely causes are cultural behaviors such as religion, and finally, responses to socioeconomic things such as wars, poverty, and racism, may cause stress to become chronic. A traumatic childhood where one may have been subjected to abuse of any kind is also a likely cause.
Such a person is always insecure and displays social habits that other people deem unusual. For example:
- extreme indrawn behaviors
- not being social
- never willing to make a connection with other people
When encountered with a stressful moment in your day, you don’t have to do much but take a deep breath and calm down. Breathing exercises allow you to take a step back, look at your situation, and see how best to deal with it.
Taking a moment to be aware of your breathing, where you inhale deeply and releasing it all out, helps you release some of the tension. Having control over something as simple as your inhaling and exhaling gives you the confidence that you may also take control of your situation.
To carry out this exercise, choose a place of your liking and an area with fresh air. It may be a garden, an empty room, or just your office. Next, you close your eyes and imagine your peaceful place. At that moment, clear your head by only listening to your breath and nothing else.
Take a few minutes as you inhale and exhale, and after you are done, get back to what you are doing. Blocking everything out and only being aware of how your lungs fill with air, has tremendous effects on the human mind.
Everything slows down, giving you a clearer mind into a better reaction to the stress factor.
In the beginning, one may be reluctant, but in the long run, this simple exercise works wonders. To be more productive, consider developing a routine where you take a few minutes to breathe. You could also make a habit of taking a deep breath when encountered by a stress trigger.
The smelling sensation has proven to be one of the most powerful ways to manage stress. And aromatherapy is a notch higher from the breathing exercises.
This therapy entails the usage of soothing scents such as lavender, rose, frankincense, bergamot, vetiver, and orange blossom, among others.
You may get them in two primary forms, as essences, and as candles. The scents come in oil form that you may use on your skin as an everyday regime or during a massage.
The extracts also come as sticks that you light, and they slowly burn to release the delightful relaxing fume. The candles, on the other hand, maybe lit while one takes a bath or during a massage session.
These scents have been known to activate specific brain parts, like the limbic, which plays a significant role in your emotions. This is one of the places that stimulate your body to feel relaxed and happy. The hypothalamus is also another part of the brain that responds to aromatherapy into producing serotonin which is the feel-good hormone.
While in public, this remedy may not be so helpful unless one uses a drop of the oil that they may have at hand to slowly inhale it. Which is quite frankly rare. So much so, this stress management activity is used in confined spaces after a long day at work. It mainly comes in handy to people who have insomnia as a result of stress.
Aromatherapy helps to improve sleep, eases pain and may help alleviate side effects to specific side effects such as nausea and headaches.
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Meditation And Yoga
Yoga is a form of non-strenuous exercise that focuses on inner peace and overall body wellness through stretches and breathing exercises. It is a step further from the typical exercise session where one uses fast paces exercises to gain mass and release tension.
Yoga turns the music down, makes you aware of yourself, body, mind, and soul, and accommodates all ages to participate. The fact that it is categorized in differing levels almost everyone can take part.
Apart from the physical effects on the body, such as enhancing flexibility, it helps an affected person’s psychological health too. A patient who partakes yoga has a better mood, has less anxiety, is more aware and accepting of their environment, and this has an overall reduction of stress.
Additionally, it helps lower cortisol levels in the body, better control of blood pressure and heart rate. It also increases gamma-aminobutyric acid production, which is a neurotransmitter that is lowered when one is affected by mood disorders.
Physical activity is a great stress reliever and can be incorporated into your daily routine easily. Being on the move can help in so many different ways, and the fact there is a selection to choose from, makes it fit for everyone.
You may decide to hit the gym for a more structured regime of exercises. You may cycle around the block or simply take a walk around the park to unwind.
For one, you take a break from what is stressing you.
Remember the adage out of sight out of mind! When you take a step away from your stress factor, your anxiety levels decrease, and your mood levels out.
Secondly, you become fit, and this will build more on your confidence because you look better. You look good; you feel good.
Start a Stress Journal
Documenting your thoughts has a therapeutic effect on the brain. It is a way of releasing and letting go of your tension. One approach is jotting down what is stressing you in detail. And the other is to document what you are grateful for. Both these approaches give you a better sense of what you are going through and give you a better perspective as to what you may do to help yourself out of your stress.
Going back to what you wrote the last week may give you a sense that what you are facing now, is just a matter of time before it passes. It gives you hope that nothing is permanent and nothing is unsolvable.
Try these fun journals out we found just for you!
Spend Time With Your Loved Ones
When we are stressed, we tend to lock ourselves in and keep to ourselves. Well, sometimes theses sessions are beneficial, but if it strips the joy out of your life, it becomes harmful.
In such an environment where you have no one to interact with or activity to release through, you result in binge drinking or overeating. Or even not doing anything. Isolated people end up contemplating suicide, which is the most unfortunate outcome of chronic stress. Therefore when you feel down, hanging out with your loved ones may be the medicine you so need.
Do not turn down an invite from a friend because you are feeling blue. Your loved one will be there for you and lend you an ear which is a great way to let things you have bottled in out. A rant is a potent stress-relieving tool and all you have to do it talk.
Listen To Soothing Music
Listening to music blocks out the outside world and help you manage stress better. Soft, slow-paced music has the effect of lowering your blood pressure the heart rate as well as the body’s stress hormone.
Classical, instrumental, and orchestral music has been known to be very powerful in mood enhancement. Nature sounds such as rain sound, fire sounds, or the water waves of the ocean are incorporated into meditation sessions and even during yoga classes. Singing loudly to a song you love may also help you release some tension.
Playing musical instruments is also a healthy way to relieving stress.
Learn a New Hobby
Stressed people always look for ways to cope with their stressful situations. Some of these behaviors may be downright harmful to them and the people around them.
Such destructive practices affect the user, and the people around them are indulgences in drug-taking. We all know that nothing good comes out of irresponsible drinking or the usage of harmful recreational drugs. Instead, they just deteriorate their health, and they may get arrested. And the ripple effect spreads to their family members where they lose their loved ones.
Well, instead of getting into drugs to cope with stress, you may partake a class into learning a new hobby. You may participate in lessons to learn a musical instrument, pottery, art, or even cooking classes.
The time and money are used in a better way, and better yet, you achieve something in the long run.
Get a Pet
Getting a little puppy, a kitten, or even a fish will prompt you to better take care of yourself. Having something to love, cherish, and take guardianship over gives us a sense of being useful. And the fact that the pet’s survival solely depends on you, you will do the needful to do just that.
Additionally, they act as a companion where they keep you company and offering an occasional cuddle when they sit on your lap for petting.
To avoid getting stressed and better managing it entails practicing mindfulness. To have a better result in a stressful situation, you have to accept that you are not the only one who gets stressed.
You might be surprised to find out that you and your colleagues get stressed over the same things. So much so, you must be mindful of others so as not to stress them out. The energy you send out might be stressing someone else.
To help you practice mindfulness learn the 4 A’s which stand for:
First, you avoid whatever stresses you out, be it a person or situation. This means that you must mean what you say; no should mean no, and you must take control of your case regardless.
Alter, which means you communicate better. You should then express openly to the person disturbing you and be a good listener too. A break down of communication may be the source of stress.
Involves you changing your reaction where you cannot change the situation. Here you identify the problem and seek the best way to deal with it.
Here you have to admit that what is happening might or might not be your doing. So much so, you need to forgive, look for the upside, accept corrections, and move on.
Let It Out
This may include screaming, crying it out, punching a pillow, or directly talking it out. All of these actions have massive effects on both your body and mind. It releases tension and in ways that are healthy too.
You should never let something that you can sort put you down. Even in cases, you have no control over; you can choose to take the route that causes you no stress. If it is a person stressing you out, walk away. It is always better safe than sorry. Never let anything overpower you; it is your life; take control.
Thank you for reading! Do you know more stress management activities? Leave a comment below to let us know!
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