We’re all still in shock by the results of the recent election.
If you’ve been following President Trump this past week, you’ve most likely experienced some inkling of stress – no matter where you stand on the political spectrum.
The truth is: Stress is inevitable.
It’s a normal part of life, and small doses of it have been found to be benefiting both mentally and physically. However, it can be equally as harmful if not watched closely.
In today’s working culture, students and professionals are taught to “just live with it.”
Some people thrive in its presence – responding with more focus, energy, and motivation to tackle any problems for the rest of the day. To them, stress is a manageable nuisance.
To others, stress acts as a hindrance to the enjoyment of life and work.
Approximately 48% of American people say stress has had a negative impact on their personal and professional lives, and the amount of people conducting searches for “stress management” on Google has been rising steadily in the last month.
While we cannot help you avoid stress altogether, we can inform you of healthier ways to manage stress and reduce its impact on your day-to-day activities.
The following five are actions you can take, proven to help you manage stress effectively and easily. By abiding by these five, it may be possible to finally “just live with it,” and prepare yourself for the stress of the next big fiasco.
1. Know what your stressors are
"A well-defined problem is a problem almost solved."
When you start feeling overwhelmed or overworked, it’s time to stop and reflect on what is making you feel that way.
Stress comes from many places. You could be stressed from something as simple as long work-hours to something physical in your environment. Unfortunately, you could also be stressed by something far bigger and a little harder to pinpoint.
A good start is to pay attention to what relieves you. Catch yourself in the moment of feeling relaxed after an accomplishment; Most of the time, you can trace that feeling back to the source of your stress.
- I may find myself breathing a sigh of relief whenever I check my bank account after a direct deposit. If I were to reflect on that, I may discover that I have been worrying about money.
- I may be clenching my fist whenever my co-worker walks into the office. It may because we had a heated debate in the office just a couple days prior.
Once you take a break and reflect on what you believe is causing you stress, the next thing you should do is act and address these problems. Detail specific solutions to whatever is causing you anxiety.
Are you beginning to feel more tired at work? Try sleeping more.
Are you more irritable in the morning? Stop skipping breakfast and go for a jog.
Keep this list on hand and refer to it whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or overworked. The most important part of stress management is acknowledging your stress exists. Once you do so, you can begin solving it.
Acknowledging the existence of your stress is the first step towards alleviating it.
2. Laugh it up!
"Seriously, laugh it up – It's no joke."
Your body has a primary response to almost everything. If a foreign particle manages to sneak its way in, your body releases an abundance of white blood cells to deal with the situation. Have a cut and bleeding profusely? Platelets are sent in to save the day.
Not everyone knows this, but your body has a primary response to stress, too.
We call it laughter.
Laughter is a coping mechanism when one is angry, upset, or disgruntled. It’s also a primary response to anxiety and stress. We laugh when we’re sad; We laugh when we’re angry. Laughter, at its core, elevates our mood, relieves ourselves of stress, and relaxes our bodies.
In a study conducted in 1997, two researchers from University of California, Berkeley, studied the effects of prolonged laughter in relation to traumatic events. The researchers, Dacher Keltner and Geroge A. Bonanno, found a direct correlation between laughter and “an increased overall positive emotion.” Spouses who spoke about their deceased partners while laughing and smiling experienced less grief than others over multiple documented encounters.
If we zoom in on a biological scale, this can be attributed to hormones.
When you laugh, your body releases endorphins which act as natural painkillers. These endorphins create a positive state of mind that leads to less stress and more self-confidence and optimism.
So, next time you feel overwhelmed by stress, laugh it out. Take a break from what you’re doing and watch something that’ll make you spew out your morning coffee. It might just be the break you need to persevere through the rest of the day.
If you love, you’re going to laugh. If you love and laugh, you’re going to live.
3. Talk to a trusted friend
"We all experience stress."
We all handle stress differently. Because of that, it helps to divulge your stress to a trusted friend. Tell them exactly what’s wrong. Describe to them what has you riled up and anxious most of the time.
Here, it’s important to get everything off your chest.
Chances are, they may be able to relate and empathize towards your situation. Although they may not have the tools to provide the exact answers to your problems, they can help you freely express your thoughts and feelings.
When you’re done, you can even reflect on the things you shared.
This self-reflection may help you learn a couple of things about yourself that you didn’t otherwise know.
“The benefits of sleep are incomparable.”
Sleep is one of the most complex processes of living organisms. All mammals do it – tigers, sheep, people – but even small amphibians and fishes do it, too.
Funny enough, most scientists still do not understand how it works. However, the consensus is that it’s necessary. When in this resting state, your body repairs damaged cells, reflects on past experiences, and releases copious amounts of hormones crucial for bodily functions.
Unfortunately, despite knowing full well of its benefits, many people still refuse to take actions to address their sleep deprivation.
Research shows there are serious health issues related to a lack of sleep. Symptoms include irritability, difficulty concentrating, and unsurprisingly, increased stress.
A good night’s sleep makes it easier to handle the upcoming day’s tasks. When you’re feeling tired, you become more easily agitated and emotional. These factors can all lead to increased stress. Typically, adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A good first step is ensure you get that amount of sleep per night.
Next time you attempt to trace stress back to their sources, try sleeping it off.
A good night’s rest may be what you need.
"To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise."
Researchers have long agreed on the physical and mental benefits of exercise.
Exercise has well-researched benefits that include maintaining mental fitness, attention, and reducing stress. Studies have linked the effects of daily exercise to individuals who are more focused, aware, and less fatigued.
Like laughter, the benefits of exercise can be traced back to hormones.
When you engage in physical activities, your body is producing endorphins in your brain. These chemicals improve symptoms related to physical and mental stress. Have you ever gone out for a long run or hike as a response to stress? Notice how calm you feel when you’re done. That’s exercise doing its magic.
But exercise does not just improve symptoms of stress. It also improves your ability to sleep.
As mentioned previously, a lack of sleep is one of the primary causes of stress and other stress-related illnesses. When you exercise, you’re using up energy and priming your body for a nice relaxing sleep at the end of the day.
Ultimately, exercise can help you blow off steam and reduce stress. Multiple studies have shown that regular participation in exercise leads to a decrease in anxiety, mood swings, and stress.
The next time you experience something stressful and feel a slight inclination to go out for a run and exercise, listen to your body. That may be what you need to relax and calm down.
Stress is normal; However, excessive stress is not.
In large amounts, stress can seem daunting and intimidating to handle. And if left unchecked, it can have serious mental and physical repercussions on an individual.
In light of everything that’s happening at the moment, understand that it is entirely possible to handle stress in small, but manageable ways.
Interested in increasing employee satisfaction and productivity?
Check out the Top 10 Ways to Build Company Culture and familiarize yourself with the effects of workplace culture.