Managing stress can be very complicated and can become a vicious circle that, paradoxically, generates more stress.
Although, a certain level of stress is considered beneficial to produce energy loads that help overcome difficult situations, such as a test or responsibilities of work or home if unchecked can be harmful.
Fortunately, there are techniques and habits to control it and prevent it from paralyzing us, make us react without control or cause us anxiety and even physical discomforts.
The problems of stress
Dr. Hans Selye identified 3 stages of stress that define the different states that we experience when we are exposed to stressful situations:
1. The alarm status.
It is the immediate response to a dangerous or difficult situation. At that moment, the rhythm of the heart increases, hormones such as cortisol are released and the body receives an energetic charge of adrenaline that helps it to react.
2. State of resistance.
After the first impact of stress, it is normal for the body to relax and recover its normal levels. However, if we do not overcome the stress situation, the body remains on alert and gets used to high levels of blood pressure and hormones.
3. State of exaltation.
Stress becomes chronic and the body exhausts its reserves to fight it. At this point, the impact is felt emotionally and physically with different reactions:
- Burnout syndrome
- Weakened immune system
- Gastrointestinal and cardiovascular affections
The stressful situations sometimes invariably accompany us, but if we find a way to handle many of its negative consequences can be avoided or at least reduced.
How to manage stress?
The American Psychological Association considers that there are different types of stress and that there is no uniform methodology to handle it. Each person must find their own way. The only thing that applies to everyone is discovering what causes stress in order to reduce its influence.
Here are some recommendations:
Separate temporarily from the cause of stress.
Once you have identified the situation that causes you to stress, put it aside within reason. It is not about avoiding a problem that you have the obligation to solve, but about giving it a break both in time of attention and in mental dedication.
A study conducted with 288 families over 10 years showed that those who exercise reflect less anxiety and overcome more easily the initial stages of stress than those who do not practice any physical activity.
These are the product of several reactions that occur in the body while exercising.
- The body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by our body.
- Hormonal activity is reduced with exercise, so less cortisol is released, which is a stress stimulant.
- Exercise facilitates sleep so that the body and mind have more rest.
A daily exercise routine, such as walking, dancing or riding a bicycle, for example, will help to manage stress.
Within the exercise routines, few are as effective as yoga when we talk about stress. In addition to the exercise benefits explained above, studies have shown that yoga works as an antidepressant and anxiolytic, in addition to relaxing the mind.
Additionally, yoga favors concentration, so it will help to separate you mentally from the cause of stress. Find a suitable place and dedicate a few minutes a day to practice and disconnect.
The meditation also helps relax the body and mind. The focus on breathing or the environment will force you to move away momentarily from the problem caused by stress and give you a new perspective.
Test natural antidepressants.
Infusions of natural herbs such as valerian, green tea or lemon balm have proven effects in reducing stress.
Do fun activities with family or friends.
Any additional activity that helps clear thoughts is useful for managing stress. If you focus your attention on something other than problems, you will give valuable rest to the body and mind. If this activity is fun it will be more helpful, because laughter helps to release stress.
You can also do other activities that give a rest to the mind and body. Listen to music, visit new places in the company of friends or family, practice a hobby like painting, writing or doing crafts. Doing different and entertaining things will take you away from the problems.
If none of these things work, professional help is always a good solution. A therapist is prepared to deal with stress problems and to guide you on the best path to overcome it.