Stress is inevitable in life and happens to everyone. However, there are some situations and environments that might make us feel stressed out a bit more than others. These situations might include when we are asked to present a project or speech at a meeting, or perhaps when we are waiting in multiple lines at the DMV, or even when we are sitting at the kitchen table working on our taxes or paying bills. We at SEL4CT thought that now is a great time to discuss ways to manage stress in these situations and any other situation that might be overly stressful for you.
According to the Harvard Business Review stress management happens in five stages:
- Understanding the biology behind stress and the fight or flight response. It is in this stage that we are able to understand the bodily functions brought on by stress are perfectly normal
- Self-Awareness of your emotional and physical cues associated with your personal experience of stress
- Remember that you have faced stressful situations before and were able to survive them, this might be a new situation but you are capable of working through the stress
- Intentionally use coping skills, breathing techniques, and grounding exercises to calm down and lower stress levels
- Trust yourself and practice! Thinking that you can calm down and practicing over time can help you calm down and de-stress when you are in the midst of an utterly stressful situation
Now you understand how stress management happens, it’s also important to have a pocketful of ways to help calm yourself down. First of all it is important to care for yourself physically. The CDC notes that eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting a healthy amount of sleep can help you manage stress. According to Heart.org it is also important to engage in non-stressful activities such as spending time outdoors, working on a gardening or home project, taking a walk, or reading a book.
Although it is important to take care of yourself and engage in non-stressful activities, it is important to understand how to manage stress in the moment. According to PsychCentral, one great way to manage stress in the moment and calm yourself down is to practice breathing exercises. One technique you can try is Box Breathing, see this video tutorial here. If breathing exercises are not your cup of tea, try pausing and counting to ten before reacting or responding to a situation.
Another important way to manage your stress is to reach out to someone you can trust. According to Harvard Business Review, reaching out to a trusted person can help you recognize and understand your stress, but it can also help take some of that stress away from you. After all, we all feel a bit better when we can tell someone else that we are upset and what upset us.
Now stress management does not happen overnight, it definitely requires practice, but can just as certainly be learned. HelpGuide recommends practicing stress management techniques wherever you are. Practicing stress management in different environments and situations can help you better control your stress in future situations.
We hope this information encourages you to recognize that stress is normal, but it is also manageable with practice.