Stress and the Body, Part 3

Tips to Manage Stress

In the first part of this series, we defined what stress is. Then, we learned its negative effects on our body. We cannot avoid stress. We will always have those stressors in life.

I’ve had my share of stressful situations in the past. Some of which I was able to overcome only by the grace of God. Each of us respond differently to stress. We have different coping skills as well.

Here are some valuable tips on how to manage stress daily.

1. Identify your source of stress.

Is it a person, your job, current living conditions or a financial situation? Ask yourself: If I stress about a certain irritating person, will it change the person or the situation? If the answer is no. Then, consider changing your attitude towards your so-called stressors. The stressor does not make your life miserable, it is your attitude that will make you miserable *However, if the source of stress is serious and deeply rooted, it’s time to seek help from a professional. You don’t have to carry that burden alone.

2. Find some alone time

Find some alone time meditating, praying, spending quiet time and even journaling. You have to be intentional about this. Include this in your daily schedule. Jotting down your thoughts, even your frustrations helps you release negative emotions. You might even make a memoir out of your journal posts.

3. Avoid negative stress coping habits

Avoid negative stress coping habits like smoking, drinking too much, binge eating, oversleeping, withdrawing from people, filling up your schedule to avoid facing problems, taking drugs and taking out your stress on other people. Replace them with new physical fitness habits like: Exercising, running, dancing, going to gym or taking a new sport, taking up yoga or pilates, walking your dog or playing with your younger kids, and listening to relaxing music. Watch movies with family or friends.

4. Travel

This is not limited to international destinations especially if you have budget constraints. Consider taking road trips on the weekends. Or plan your next destination with friends on a commuter bus. Travel does not have to rip a hole in your pocket. Explore different museums, cafes, and restos in the city.

5. Be sociable.

Don’t keep your worries or anxieties to yourself. Find a good friend, a confidant who will listen to you. Please do not impose on them nor expect them to solve your problems. If you are always calling them or sending them messages, you might turn out to be their stressor 🙂 Keep a good set of friends or be part of a community. Do not isolate yourself. Join social clubs, bible study groups, or communities that would fit your interests.

6. Improve yourself.

Attend workshops, seminars and trainings to learn new skills, level up current ones and hone your talents. Listen to podcasts by inspirational speakers. Attend leadership conferences. Unwind at least once a year by attending retreats. These seminars don’t have to be related to your work or profession.

7. Take care of your body.

Binge eating or not eating at all is one negative effect of stress. Avoid that by intentionally making good food choices that includes juicing, considering organic food and limiting caffeine intake. Have relaxing massages at spas. Consider integrative wellness treatments, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment to reduce stress.

8. Practice the 4A’s : Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept.

Avoid stress by learning to say “NO.” Don’t take too much that you can’t handle. If Facebook or watching the news cause your blood pressure to rise, then don’t go on social media or turn off the news. There are some people whose presence sets us off, right? If you can avoid altogether, limit your interactions with them.

Alter your attitude towards the person or your cause of stress. Manage your time well. Most of the time stress comes from poor time management. Plan and commit without overdoing yourself. It also helps to speak out without being disrespectful or arrogant.

Adapt to the situation. Instead of impatiently honking your horn while in traffic, regroup your thoughts. Pray, meditate, read or listen to motivational or inspirational podcasts or music to soothe your nerves. Avoid the curse of perfectionism. Set attainable standards for yourself and for others to avoid unnecessary stress.

Accept the things you cannot change. Have you heard of the Serenity prayer?

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

There are many things in this world we have no control of like the weather, traffic,  and other people’s behavior. The only thing we have full control of is our response or behavior towards them or our current situation. Instead of complaining, be thankful for what you have. Look at the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. Always be hopeful and look forward to tomorrow.

In life, we will be faced with so much negativity that could either make us or break us. The negative response to stress will affect our moods, productivity and overall health. If our attitudes toward  stress remain unchanged, we will succumb to the deleterious effects on our bodies. Pray before all else fails. We can do this together. Let’s enjoy life to the fullest! Be happy!