How to manage stress and don’t be intimidated by it

By Vladimir Marchenko

In the modern world there exist plenty of reasons to be concerned. It is not surprising that at some point the stress just becomes too much and seems to be impossible to overcome. Is it manageable and whether it’s feasible to deal with stress without consequences?

What is stress

Unlike many people think, stress is not a disease that needs to be treated. It is a reaction of the body at the level of the psyche and/or physiology to various unfavourable factors that disrupt its usual functioning. It launches backup mechanisms of the body that makes it possible to adapt to new conditions of existence, or decreases metabolic processes, which helps the body to wait out till the more favorable times. Also, what for some people is a stressful factor (for example, public speaking), for others, can be nothing but ordinary life events. Most often, stress goes away over time without consequences, but occasionally it becomes chronic and turns into a problem.

stress at work
According to the American Institute of Stress, physical health of 77% of people is affected by stress while in 73% of people it can have an impact on mental health

There are two forms of stress - eustress and distress. Eustress is considered a positive form while distress is a negative one. Eustress manifests when, for example, people hear news about winning the lottery and being invited to a TV studio (psychological form), also, when playing sports (physical form), or taking tranquillizers (biochemical form). It is mostly determined by the reaction to the anticipated positive changes or events in the future. As a rule, it does not have an adverse effect on the psycho-emotional state or physical health of people and only positively mobilizes the body.

Distress is ‘the stress’ as we know it, the one that negatively affects human health and compromises the immune system. If the body's reserves are insufficient, there appear external signs of stress such as fatigue, lack of sleep, mental exhaustion, bad mood, lack of concentration, psychosomatic diseases, etc.

The origins of stress

Given that stress affects both physical and mental health, the factors that cause it are usually classified into several categories:

1. Emotional and psychological stress. It occurs as a result of external, social or other stimuli. Factors can be either positive (an increase in wages associated with being aware that the responsibility at work also increased) or negative (illness of a close relative, for example).

2. Physiological, which affects the body directly, for example, during and after an operation. Positive examples of such stress are marathons, as they exceed the physiological norm of the body.

3. Nervous system disorders, usually caused by tension. The resilience of the nervous system is different for each person, therefore, the disorders can manifest in different ways.

4. Chronic. In this case, stress becomes a constant companion of a person and haunts him even in the absence of negative factors. A person ceases to control his emotional state and the ability to experience negative factors with minimal losses. Such manifestation can lead to depression and nervous breakdown.

Causes and symptoms of stress

In the modern world, many factors can be a source of stress - lack of sleep and early morning wake-ups, news (political, incidents), traffic jams, overload at work, misunderstanding with the seniors, queues, family conflicts, lack of financial stability, and finally, illnesses of relatives and friends. In addition, the impact of a particular stress factor can significantly differ for specific people.

super nice girl with smartphone in bed
More than 40% of people who experience stress complain primarily of anger and irritability, as well as fatigue and lack of motivation

The symptoms of stress vary a lot. They can manifest in many different ways, although the following ones are most common:

  • Nervous irritability;
  • Emotional burnout;
  • Blood pressure drops;
  • Isolation; 
  • Excessive talkativeness;
  • Headaches;
  • Changes in appetite;
  • Memory impairment;
  • Indifference, pessimism;
  • Fatiguability.

 Hence, a person adopts one of three models of behaviour:

  • The "Lion" is expressed in an active reaction to the cause of stress, violent demonstration of emotions and willingness to find a way out of the situation;
  • The "Rabbit" manifests in attempts to hide, get away from the problems or put the responsibility on others. The person actively avoids stressful factors;
  • The "Ox" is characterized by the suppression of stress, lack of external manifestations and emotions, and little opportunities to overcome stress due to lack of emotional flexibility.

Why managing stress?

Resistance to stress is considered to be one of the most important qualities that define confidence, the ability to think critically in non-standard situations, quickly adapt and make decisions. It is believed that only one in five people has an innate ability to withstand high levels of stress, the rest acquire this quality only through exercising it. A resilient nervous system prevents the development of depression, breakdowns, loss of appetite, etc., and allows you to see not only negative but also new opportunities during the crisis.

Learning how to manage stress should be designed around several areas. Here, we provide some of the most relevant recommendations for managing stress. They can be implemented both individually and in combination.

1. Movement is life! Moderate physical activity, including walking or dancing, increases the production of endorphins - the hormones of joy.

2. Social interaction. Assumes that the person is not left alone with his problems, and has an opportunity to discuss them with relatives, friends or a therapist.

3. Adaptation. Even if a stressful situation is inevitable you the only thing you can do is adjust to it, it’s important not to hide your feelings and emotions.

4. Prevention of conflict situations. You can either avoid unpleasant conversations  (stop communicating with toxic people), or change your attitude towards what is happening.

5. The use of meditative practices. In this case, you should choose an individual program and regularly follow it.

How to increase stress resistance

Here are specific examples of stress management in different areas. For example, during sports activities, both the body and the spirit are ‘pumped" at the same time, and the level of the stress hormone (cortisol) in the blood decreases. You need to select the activity based on the characteristics of your body and try not to overload yourself. Aerobic exercises are suitable for almost everyone - walking at least 4-5km, running, cycling, playing tennis, football, basketball, etc. Overall, 30-60 minutes of activity per day is enough. After physical exertion comes the calmness, caused by the release of endorphins, hence, the heart rate decreases and the other indicators of the body also normalize.

married couple at a psychologist
A professional therapist will help you understand the phycological roots of stress and minimize its effect on the body

It is believed that women and children better cope with stressb because they do not hide emotions, no matter, positive or negative. Although it may depend on the temperament of the personality, and how and where a person was brought up. However, statistically, women are more likely to suffer from depression, even though they are the ones who are more likely to share their negative experiences with their parents, girlfriends, and boyfriends. Men, on the contrary, especially in some countries (Japan, Finland, Canada), are used to hiding their emotions or often drown them in alcohol. Suppressed emotions lead to the accumulation of unused energy, which sooner or later manifests itself in the form of a nervous breakdown or burnout. To prevent this from happening, it is advised to practice mindfulness, and understand that the situation is not worth deeply worrying about. You can always look a little ahead and continue to take actions in order to make things better.

American writer S. Covey proposed the 90/10 principle, which means that we are not able to control only 10% of the events in our life. Everything else is completely under our jurisdiction. Thus, you can get rid of negativity, accepting any crisis as a challenge and a signal for action. In any case, the action helps to distract from bad thoughts and turn them into energy to move forward. For example, schoolchildren who enter a new school are advised to visit it beforehand, as it helps to distract from negative anticipations. It is also recommended to wear the clothes the student feels most confident in, smile, not be afraid to talk with classmates, and most importantly, understand that this is a wonderful new chapter in life.

Many stressful situations can be avoided in advance, which is also an element of managing them. It is often advised not to create stressful situations in the first place. For example, in the morning, the daughter spilled coffee on his father's pants, in which he was about to go to work. The father yelled at his daughter for being awkward, and also at his wife for putting the cup too close to the edge of the table. As a result, the daughter goes to school in tears and gets bad grades, and the wife, being stressed and in a hurry, forgets important papers at home, and as a result, looses a deal. The father also comes to work in a bad mood, quarrels with his boss, which eventually spoils the entire day. The whole family returns home in the evening being unhappy and unsatisfied. However, all this could have been avoided from the very beginning, if the father had treated the morning incident as something insignificant and unimportant.

Meditative practices, including yoga, visualization, reading out loud and listening to affirmations, are great at helping to reduce stress. The latter are short positive verbal formulas that were implemented in a very specific way in the Hypnopedia application. In the app they are played at night during the most favourable sleep phases, don’t wake you up and, instead, being "recorded" at the subconscious level. On the next day, you will feel definitely better. In the long term the use of application normalizes your mental health and reduces the impact of stressful factors. Important psychophysiological characteristics (such as motivation, self-confidence, productivity), which form the user's resistance to stress, are also gradually improving.

Ссылка App Store

Also, sets of relaxing sounds in the application can help minimize the impact of stress and provide a quick falling asleep. They can be combined and saved in playlists, and the volume of each of them can be adjusted individually. A smart alarm clock is present in the application as a bonus.

***

In today's world, it is very important to know how to manage stress. For this, different techniques and approaches can be used, some of which we have described in this article. Ultimately, everything depends on your personal attitude to what is happening around and the ability to look at it from the outside. It is also important to remember that the resistance to stress develops over the years and makes its owner calmer and more judicious in all respects.

Hypnopedia Mental health Well-being Positive thinking Self-awareness