Stress Management – Statistics and How to Manage Stress

Stress is a part of life, and there’s no way to eliminate it fully. With stress management strategies, you don’t need to allow it to control your life, decision-making, or happiness. The key is to understand what you can do, what you cannot, and what’s most valuable to you in that moment.

Stress Statistics

Around the globe, stress is a key factor in the quality of life a person lives. For example, in the UK, 74% of people say they have felt so much stress that they are overwhelmed or unable to cope, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

In the US, stress impacts most people’s lives. The American Institute of Stress says that, compared to the rest of the world, Americans are 20 base points more stressed out than any other country. Stress comes in all forms: economic factors due to rising costs, relationship battles, and, in recent years, fear of illness thanks in part to the lingering feeds of long-term stress related to the pandemic.

Stress is a body’s natural reaction to situations where there is some perceived concern about your safety. The body naturally pumps stress hormones into your body to get your heart racing, increase breathing, and help muscles get ready to run if there’s a need. This is the fight-or-flight response. It’s meant to last minutes, not hours or days. Yet, in today’s society, stress hormones stay in our bodies much longer, and that’s bad for mental and physical health.

What Is Stress Management?

Stress management isn’t the process of alleviating all stress from our lives. Instead, it’s about learning to reduce its impact. You have a lot of control over the stress you feel, and learning how to manage it could help improve your quality of life.

Stress management is about taking charge of what’s limiting you, creating solutions to problems, and controlling your thoughts. It’s about controlling your environment, emotions, and the problems you’re facing on a day-to-day basis. That’s a lot of work. The good news is there are a few key strategies that can make managing stress easier.

The 4 A’s of Stress Management

There are four A’s to remember about stress management that can help you create a foundation for success:

  • Avoid stress that’s unnecessary: Say “no” when you know your limits. Avoid taking on tasks you cannot do well. It’s also important to avoid people who cause you stress. Avoid tasks, people, places, or activities that are too stressful to manage.
  • Alter the situation: When you cannot avoid stress (whether it’s a person or concern) find a way to communicate about it more effectively. Don’t bottle up your frustrations but share how it’s bothering you. Try to find a compromise or be more assertive in protecting your quality of life.
  • Adapt: When the first two strategies do not work or apply, it may be necessary to change yourself to adapt to the situation. Can you reframe a problem in a most positive light so you can mentally deal with it more effectively? Consider adjusting your standards and practicing gratitude.
  • Accept: Some of the most stressful aspects of life are those you cannot change. When there is nothing you can do, try to accept them. That could mean sharing your feelings and accepting what others believe. It may mean recognizing that the world isn’t perfect.

With these four elements in mind, it’s time to consider some effective stress management methods for bringing your stress levels better under control.

How to Manage Stress

Follow these tips to improve stress in your daily life.

Identify the Causes

Take the time to write down everything that is causing your stress. Sometimes, you’ll feel anxious and overwhelmed, but you lack a specific focus on what is causing that stress.

  • Make a list of the most important and impactful stressors you have right now.
  • Look deeper into those stressors. What is the cause of them? What is the cause of the way you feel?

Replace Unhealthy Coping Strategies

If you’re using alcohol, gambling, shopping, eating, or any other unhealthy coping strategy to manage stress, take a step back. Take a closer look at why you’re engaging in those activities. Consider these common unhealthy coping methods and ways to force improvement:

  • Using alcohol or drugs to relax.
  • Zoning out for hours watching TV or staring at your phone.
  • Bottling up stress until you take it out on others.
  • No longer engaging in activities and relationships that are important to you.
  • Sleeping too much and always feeling tired.

How can you correct these concerns? Find alternatives:

  • Go for a walk instead of watching TV. The exercise will burn some of the stress hormones.
  • Have a conversation with someone who cares about helping you process your thoughts and feelings better.
  • Make a list of what you have to get done and do it, checking off one thing after the next as you do.
  • Reach out to a professional for some guidance and support.
  • Protect your health above all else. Eat, sleep, and minimize the onset of health complications that are preventable.

Move More During Your Day

Exercise is one of the most powerful tools you have for combating stress. As noted, stress is a hormone that moves through your body stimulating your organs. However, running, swimming, doing a fitness routine, or any other exercise burns that hormone faster. That’s why a good workout at the gym feels great.

Time Management

Better management of your time can enhance your overall stress levels. It’s not about getting more done but using your time in the most effective way possible. The more you stretch yourself too thin, the harder it is to remain focused and calm. Consider these strategies:

  • Prioritize what’s most important. Tackle each task on your list in the order of priority. This helps you put what’s more important first.
  • Break big projects down into smaller tasks. Sometimes, a huge project is just too overwhelming. Instead of doing it all, focus on just one step at a time.
  • Delegate away some of the responsibility. When you cannot do everything, it is best to put your time towards the tasks best suited to your specific skills. Let someone else handle the tasks they can.

Reach Out and Connect

Sometimes, stress isn’t just a list of things to do. It can also be frustrating feelings, overwhelming thoughts, and triggers to areas of life that are just too overwhelming. Your fight-or-flight experiences are not just related to physical stress. It’s about finding a way to relieve your emotional stress as well.

The best way to do that is to reach out to others. The more you “think” about what’s happening, the more out-of-control stress becomes. Talking about it, whether to a free coworker or therapist, allows you to really focus on what’s happening. Sometimes, you just need someone to listen.

That’s another part of the problem for many people, though. Building relationships can be stressful. Consider a few strategies to help you:

  • That sense of giving back is stress-healing itself, but it’s also a way to reach others.
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while to catch up. If it’s been too long, email them.
  • Start going to a workout program at the local rec. That’s going to help you burn stress while also giving you the opportunity to talk.
  • Set up a lunch date at least one day a week that’s mandatory – you spend an hour with someone you care about just talking without the distraction of phones.
  • Find someone who you trust to talk to professionally.

Make Time for Fun and Relaxation

Another way to incorporate stress management is by doing the exact opposite of dealing with it. That is relaxing. Finding ways to have fun can be incredibly healing. Laughing at a funny movie is a stress reliever in itself.

Choose a few things to do every week (if not every day) that bring you a sense of joy. For example, you may watch comedy shows. You may want to relax in a hot tub for a few hours. You may find it relaxing to go for a swim.

Maintain Balance With a Healthy Lifestyle

There’s also the physical aspect of stress. Unfortunately, stress is linked to numerous health complications, from high blood pressure to heart disease. Stress could make you more prone to injuries, thanks to reckless behavior, too.

There are several steps to take to reduce these risks:

  • Eat nutrient-rich food. Sugar worsens stress levels and inflammation.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drugs. The use of these substances is an indication you could be self-medicating.
  • Get enough sleep every night.

Reducing Stress in the Moment

There’s one more big factor to consider. That’s living in the moment. As you work through your day with a long list of things in your mind, take a moment to think about where you are right now.

  • Is anything bad happening to you right now?
  • What are you grateful for in this moment?
  • If your heart is racing, take a few deep breaths, hold them, and let them out. Keep doing so until your blood pressure drops.
  • If you were just in a high-stress situation, pull over and call someone, listen to music that helps you express your thoughts, or just let yourself cry.

Finding a way to relax and focus on yourself and your well-being while also accomplishing all of your goals can be overwhelming. Yet, it’s also rewarding and life-improving when you master stress management.

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