Daily Hassles of life have been treating us unfairly and this has led to a rise in stress and lifestyle diseases.
It is high time that we do something to solve this issue. While we surely can’t do much about the amount of stress or workload which we have, we can surely improve our body’s ability to handle stress.
This article talks about Stress, its causes, symptoms, how to avoid stress in the first place, and how to manage stress using some powerful tips.
What is Stress?
Stress is the feeling which our body experiences when we face extreme mental, emotional and physical pressure. It is a feeling which people get when they come across extreme pressure and tension.
Stress can have both positive and negative impacts on human motivation but has negative impacts on our bodies.
It hampers our body functions, causes panic attacks, messes up with our sleep cycle and tampers our cardiac functions.
Stress can cause a “fight or flight” mechanism in our bodies which can prove to be helpful in some cases, like when we face extreme danger.
However, most of the time when people face stress, it is not because of extreme danger, rather it is because of elements that we face in our daily lives: family issues, work pressure, financial issues, etc.
Stress from daily lives is what causes most health problems and ultimately depression. Some of the most common (and also worst) ways to manage stress are to resort to drugs, drinking, depression, or even worse: suppression of stress.
Why do we feel stressed? – Sources of stress
Stress is everywhere. A healthy amount of stress is good, however, most people these days encounter enormous amounts of stress daily. That’s when it gets nasty.
Most sources of stress are our daily life issues which get out of hand if not tackled properly. These issues can be as basic as not getting proper food to eat or having a disagreement with friends or family.
Some of the major sources of stress are:
1. Family and Friends
One of the major sources of stress is family and friends. Sometimes having disagreement within the family or having an argument with friends and misunderstanding on common issues can cause stress.
Some examples of this type of stress are unemployment within the family, family planning, getting picked up by friends, in-fighting within the family, etc.
This is the most common form of stress faced by people in their lives.
2. Financial Issues
Having money problems is a leading source of stress. Not having enough money to lead a basic lifestyle, having less money than friends or family or even losing money in the stock market can cause stress.
Most people work for money and when they can’t earn enough of it or when they lose it, they start experiencing stress.
No one is immune to this source of stress. A moderate amount of this stress causes people to work harder, save more and control their lifestyle.
An extreme amount of this stress causes people to get demotivated in life and even slide into depression.
The best way to tackle stress from financial issues is to practice prudent financial management: Spend less, save more.
Saving is a habit that can’t be developed overnight. You have to develop it slowly.
3. Career Related
Not getting a good/ desired job or facing unemployment can cause stress. This source of stress takes the front seat during economic slowdowns.
The best way to avoid this stress is to have multiple sources of income that are recession-proof.
Some people might face this stress after getting a promotion and experiencing an increase in work responsibilities.
Not having work causes stress, but having lots of work causes even more amount of stress because of work pressure, office politics, accountability, etc.
Several people are facing this source of stress at a rising rate due to a rise in competition at workplaces, loss of jobs due to automation and demand for higher productivity by employers. Having non-supporting colleagues and superiors can also cause stress.
This stress can also arise due to the lack of work-life balance.
Everyone travels some distance almost every day. They may face problems like traffic, long travel hours, lack of parking space or even irritation due to honking of horns. This causes people to get angry and experience stress.
To avoid this stress, people can live near their workplace or universities, listen to calm music while driving to avoid sound from horns or use public transport to avoid any parking issues.
6. Political Environment
People have their own opinions about politics, and when the political situation at the place where they live is opposite to what they desire it to be, they get stressed.
Watching too many political debates can also cause stress amongst people.
The best way to avoid this stress is by framing your own opinion on a particular issue and reading newspapers, instead of watching political debates.
Students usually face stress when they don’t get desired results despite studying hard for examinations or working hard for projects and presentations.
Sometimes not getting a chance to pursue higher education can also cause stress amongst people.
Seeing your friends and family do good in academics is also a source of stress if you are not able to catch-up with them.
8. Health concerns
Having some health issues in the family or facing one yourself can cause stress about the problem. The worst part about this source is that stressing about having improper health can deteriorate health even further and even cause more body complications.
Read the Ultimate Guide to Longevity to increase health and life span and reduce health bills.
Having a bad relationship or a breakup or divorce can cause stress. People of all ages can face this type of stress.
A divorce can lead to lots of stress since there is custody of children at stake along with financial compensation.
10. Environmental factors
Environmental factors like pollution, the felling of trees, global warming can also cause stress. This source has taken a front seat in today’s scenario due to increasing pollution, rising instances of forest fires and lack of action by the global community.
There are several other sources of stress, but most of them are just related to the sources mentioned above. Now since you know about the sources of stress, let’s look into the most common symptoms of stress.
Symptoms of stress
Stress is everywhere. A moderate amount of stress is good, however, facing a moderate amount of stress from several sources is bad.
Stress can cause physical, emotional and mental changes in a person.
Here are some most common symptoms of stress.
Physical Symptoms of Stress
- Sudden change in body weight. Some people start stress eating while some avoid food altogether. Most of this fall in body weight is due to a reduction in muscle strength and weight.
- Rise in hair fall. This symptom is mostly seen amongst men.
- Skin becomes dull and wrinkled. Skin also loses its texture.
- Aging fast. Stress deteriorates people’s health and leads to faster aging.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Health conditions like Low body immunity, cardiac problems, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Muscle fatigue, and pain.
- Fall in energy levels.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms of Stress
- Cravings for food, alcohol, drugs, and cigarette.
- Social Withdrawal.
- Anxiety and Anger.
- Not feeling like getting up from bed despite getting a night of proper sleep.
How to avoid stress?
It is beneficial to learn about stress management, but it is even more beneficial to learn about how to avoid stress in the first place. This section highlights the most basic methods which anyone can resort to, to avoid stress.
1. Don’t take much work responsibilities
Don’t occupy yourself with more work than you can handle while keeping your sanity in check. Avoid taking on several work duties. This could be related to a job, community responsibilities or even house responsibilities.
Hustling is good, but over hustling can lead to burnout and ultimately deterioration in health conditions. If you have a hectic work schedule, then refrain from taking any social or community service responsibilities.
You must focus on maintaining Work-Life balance to avoid stress.
2. Avoid bad relationships
Always stay away from relationships that involve daily arguments, fights, back-bitching, and cheating.
However, you should see if the other partner is going through stress or is it just not working out anymore.
3. Avoid toxic friendships
Don’t be friends with people who keep scores about everything, are mean to you, and talk to you only when they need you. Rather surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude and have zero ego problems.
You must, however, help friends who are undergoing stress or depression or have suffered a loss in the recent past.
It helps in reducing and even building resilience against moderate stress factors.
Meditation isn’t about suppressing your thoughts and emotions, rather it is about getting aware of them.
Importance of Stress Management
By now, you already know that stress is bad. Even in moderate forms, stress can do more harm than good. It can cause severe mental health conditions in people and can destroy everything which people have. Depression, a result of stress, is a person’s worst nightmare.
Stress even reduces productivity. If you are a business owner or work in the Top management of an Organisation, then you should look into the ways to manage stress since most of your employees are likely to suffer from stress.
The majority of the stress is caused due to non-work related factors, but it impacts employees and can hamper their productivity at the workplace.
While there are several psychological therapies and medicines to manage stress, it is better to manage it organically.
Read the below-mentioned ways to manage stress organically.
Stress Management Techniques
1. Acknowledge the signs
The best way to begin the journey towards stress management is to acknowledge the signs which indicate that you are stressed. This could be a sudden rise/ fall in your weight, extreme hair fall, panic attacks, etc.
Ignoring stress and not talking about stress can be bad for your mental and emotional health.
You should talk about stress with your partner or parents to lighten that mental burden.
2. Rule of 478
This is a very effective and simple way to manage stress and anxiety attacks.
It involves a simple breathing exercise:
- Breath-in air through nostrils for 4 seconds.
- Hold the air for 7 seconds.
- Release the air through nostrils slowly for 8 seconds.
- Calms the nerves and mind.
- Improves the oxygen level in blood.
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
The exercise should be done at least 5 times:
- Before taking an important decision at work (or life in general).
- When experiencing stress and anxiety.
- When feeling burned out at work.
- When feeling angry.
This is a highly proven method to manage stress and calm nerves.
This costs nothing to practice but certainly helps employees in making better decisions and reduce errors at the workplace.
Ask your employer to have an Employee Wellness Program in place. If they already have such a program, then participate actively in it to get the most benefit out of it. These programs improve a person’s ability to handle stress and improve their health and fitness. Participating in employee wellness programs is one of the best ways for employees to save money since these programs lead to reduced healthcare spending.
Mediation is one of the best ways to calm the mind and come to terms with one’s thoughts. It is an effective tool to manage stress and depression and is widely practiced by several people on a daily basis.
One should ideally meditate for at least 10 minutes, twice daily.
The ideal time to meditate is early morning and before going to sleep at night.
All that one needs to meditate is a quiet place and some meditation music (if you want something to focus on). One can meditate at the home, office or even while traveling in public transport.
Organizations can set up rooms at the workplace where employees can meditate without being disturbed.
Learn how to meditate in this Effective guide to meditation.
5. Listen to Soft Music
Listening to calming music/ meditation music while working/traveling can help you focus on the work and help you avoid the external environment like traffic, noise, etc.
You can also listen to meditation music while trying to sleep or study.
6. Focus on Fitness
Practicing Body Stretching at home or going to a fitness studio can take your mind off the stressing factors and give you a much-needed break from the daily hassles of life. Joining a Yoga and meditation studio can also be helpful.
The best way to manage stress is to include fitness, yoga, and meditation in daily routine. While these things won’t reduce stress, they’ll surely improve your mental and physical resilience against it.
A 15-minute meditation coupled with a 5-7 minute stretching session in the office can increase the entire office’s productivity and reduce stress (both mental and muscle stress).
You should at least spend 30 minutes on your physical fitness every day.
7. Laugh more
Laughing (actually laughing and not pretending to laugh) is the best source of happiness. Watching standup comedies or comedy movies can help you in tackling stress.
You should also interact with your friends and family on a regular basis to move your focus away from stress.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins: the body’s feel-good chemicals and promotes an overall sense of happiness.
8. Eat healthy
Sometimes it might be difficult to manage stress. However, despite the stress, if you eat healthy meals and prevent yourself from skipping meals or bingeing on fast foods, then you can fight off the stress and make your body more resilient to diseases caused by stress like obesity, cardiac issues, high blood pressure, etc.
Learn how to increase your life-span and health through this Ultimate guide to longevity
9. Have priorities in life
Sort out your priorities in life. Decide what matters most to you, is it work or family or something else.
If the stress factor is causing you to avoid your priorities in life, then eliminate that stress factor.
If your toxic relationship is forcing you to avoid all your priorities, then let go of your partner. However, the key here is to have your priorities sorted out first.
10. Go for a Wellness Vacation/ Retreat
Sometimes going for a Wellness retreat/ vacation can do wonders in your life. While a 7-day Wellness vacation won’t solve your stress issue completely, but it will teach you the things which are required to manage stress and lead a healthy life.
These vacations will introduce you to a new lifestyle, a healthy and sustainable one.
11. Stress Journal
Stress journal is a book where you regularly record information about stress and the situation in which you experience it so that later you can analyze the stress factors and come up with a solution to tackle them.
You can then analyze the biggest source of stress and work on eliminating it from your life.
12. Get help: Therapy/ counseling
Recent advances in psychology have led to the creation of methods that help people in fighting stress. Get help from a counselor.
Most workplaces and universities these days have in-house counselors. If you don’t want to visit a counselor, then at least talk to someone close about your stress before it gets worse and turns into depression.
13. Get a massage
Full body massages and Ayurveda therapies can be beneficial in tackling stress, anxiety, and body pain.
You can go for massages on a monthly or quarterly basis. However, if your work is very hectic and you are super stressed, then you should visit massage centers every fortnight or every month.
Body massages help in reducing the tension from muscles and increase immunity.
14. Learn to adapt
If you cannot eliminate the source of stress, then you should accept the situation you are into and adapt yourself to it.
You should regularly try and adapt to the stress and at the same time work towards coming up with ways to manage/ eliminate that particular type of stress.
Things to avoid doing while under stress
By now you already know about the ways to manage stress.
Now let’s look into the methods to which you should not resort to while experiencing stress.
Resorting to drugs is a common way to let go of stress for a short period of time. However, drugs themselves are harmful and can worsen the stress situation.
Drugs don’t deal with the underlying problem, they just take your mind off it for some time.
2. Drinking Alcohol
Several people, mostly working-age people resort to consuming alcohol to reduce the stress related to money, work, and family.
Drinking can lead to severe health issues and can reduce your productivity at work/ college.
Moderate drinking is not bad, but drinking regularly just to suppress stress can be very harmful.
The worst possible way to tackle stress is to not do anything about it and let yourself slide into depression. It is always better to have someone to talk to regarding stress and depression.
These days, several countries and NGOs are coming up with helpline numbers for people suffering from depression.
4. Suppression/ Ignorance
Suppressing stress and thinking as if it will pass in some time, just like any other phase of life is a very big mistake.
It can keep spreading in your mind slowly only waiting to come out and explode like a time bomb at a later stage.
5. Smoking Cigarettes
Several people have a tendency to smoke to manage stress and relax. Smoking does not promote stress management. Rather it worsens your breathing ability and damages lungs.
Read about the 24 things which you must avoid to improve your Health, Fitness, and Wellness.
The best way to manage stress is to lead a lifestyle that doesn’t cause stress. This lifestyle is very difficult to achieve in today’s scenario but it can be achieved if you follow the following methods.
- Reduce social media usage. Looking at the fancy lifestyles of influencers and celebrities causes people to stress about their own lives.
Instead spend time reading good books, talking to new people and learning new things.
- Prefer calling and meeting people face to face, instead of chatting with them. People tend to get curious about whether the other person has replied to their message or not and makes them stress out over the issue.
- Limit your habit of watching Political debates. Instead, do your own research and form your own opinion about important issues in the country.
Political debates mostly involve people shouting and making irrelevant/ silly arguments, which can cause some stress to people.
Also, never watch political debates in the morning.
- Go for long walks/ runs in parks. Looking at trees and breathing fresh air can make people happy and reduces stress.
- Maintain proper work-life balance. Several people say that you should “hustle, hustle and hustle” till 40 years of age. Hustling is good, but only to a point where it doesn’t affect your behavior with family and friends.
Having a good work-life balance is more important than just working and having no life.
- Be happy. Look for happiness in small things and practice gratitude.
Doing charity and social service can help you in feeling good about yourself.
Stress is common these days. Several people experience it, however, it is highly prevalent amongst working people. A moderate amount of stress can be motivating, however, experiencing a moderate amount of stress from several sources can be harmful to people.
It is not a single source of moderate stress, rather it is the multiple sources of moderate stress which hampers a person’s productivity, sanity, and health.
It is always advised to practice Stress Management techniques and to get help from professional counselors in case the situation goes out of hand.
If you are an employee, then you should enquire whether your workplace has an Employee Wellness program or not.
If yes, then you should participate in all the activities to ensure your health expenses are on the lower side. If not, then you should ask your manager or superiors to have an Employee Wellness Program in place.
Stress Management is very important since there are several stress factors in play in the present scenario which impact almost everyone.
There is a lack of communication and focus on issues like stress, depression and mental illnesses.
We should break this barrier and encourage people to talk more about their conditions and seek external help from professional counselors.
Many organizations have in-house counselors and coaches who help employees and students fight stress and mental issues. However, we should encourage people with no access to such services to talk to external counselors.
Mental and Emotional health is as important as physical health.