8 Ways to Manage and Reduce Stress

Is there a way to avoid stress? Is it possible to have a life where stress doesn't exist? Unfortunately not BUT there are plenty of ways you can manage stress. The emotions we experience as humans affect our bodies in numerous ways. When we get angry our blood pressure rises and we become tense. When we're happy, we're filled with energy. When we're sad, we feel drained - ever wonder why you love to sleep after you have a breakdown or when you're feeling down?

What is stress?

Stress has an impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. It arises when you are under an intense amount of pressure. In the short-term, stress can be beneficial because it can help you focus better when you are determined to get things done, especially if you have tight deadlines. Whereas in the long-term, stress can have many negative effects on your health such as mental illnesses, heart diseases, asthma and more.

It's easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed when you're struggling to finish the 100 things you need to do when the workload keeps on increasing and somehow everything seems to be going very, very wrong. Where do you draw the line and tell yourself you can't keep doing this?

A few symptoms that indicate you are stressed:

-loss of appetite/overeating
- body pain
-skin conditions e.g eczema, acne
- lack of focus
- easily irritated
- loss of interest to do things you enjoy
- headaches
- stomach problems

If you experience these symptoms and you are aware that you've been feeling a lot of pressure lately, it's a sign that stress affecting your life. You need to take the time to reflect on your current situation and put measures in place that will reduce the strain stress causes on you.

How can I manage and reduce stress?

- Identify what the cause of your stress is

If you are stressed and realise that it has taken a toll on your health, list down all the possible reasons for your stress. A lot of us overwork ourselves, forgetting we need to be in the best possible form to get through the day efficiently. When you're juggling a 100 things at once it's difficult to prioritize the most important things you need to do. Make a decision to not invest time into commitments you know you can't do. Sometimes saying no is the best answer because there are only so many hours in a day. Don't spread yourself too thin.

Writing your thoughts down in a journal is a great way to reflect on your feelings and understand the reasons behind your emotions. If you occasionally review your journal you can identify patterns. This will then allow you to identify possible solutions that will reduce the stress you are experiencing.

- Make time for the things you enjoy

Being busy doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of joy. Sometimes stress arises when we don't make time for ourselves. You're allowed to have a break; take yourself on a date, meet up for drinks with friends or go to the cinema. If you don't have days where you let your hair down you will struggle to stay motivated. You need something to look forward to, something that will keep pushing you and that will allow you to relax too.

- Diet

You should eat at least 3 meals to give your body the nutrition it needs to get through the day. When we don't have enough time we usually skip meals which prevents our bodies from functioning efficiently. Organise your time well so you don't miss important meals of the day. Be mindful of the amount of caffeine and sugar you consume, once the high wears off you will feel fatigued and unmotivated.

- Get Enough Sleep

If you start your day off feeling restless you won't be as productive as you could be. Poor time management means you are unable to complete the tasks you had planned for the day so you will stay up late to finish them. The only way to get a good amount of sleep is by sleeping at a reasonable time the night before. Remember a lack of sleep will leave you unfocused.

- Talk to a Friend

Everyone feels stressed out at some point so you are not alone. Speaking to a friend you trust is a great way to remove some weight off your shoulders. You will feel a great sense of relief when you open up and speak about your feelings as someone is there to listen. Bottling up your emotions increases your stress levels.

- Professional Help

Counselling will help you look deeply into the reasons behind your stress. Through discussing your experiences, you will learn how to handle your stress better by managing your life situations better. Your therapist's assistance is beneficial because they can guide you in tackling the areas of your life that are getting on top of you.

- Exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers and is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stress puts a lot of strain on your heart which is why it is recognised as a factor that can lead to heart diseases. You can redirect this negative energy by going to the gym to burn off some steam or planning to go for a morning jog. Different forms of exercise contribute to a clearer state of mind and a reduction in body intensity caused by stress.

- Mindfulness/Deep breaths

"How am I going to get through all of this?". We may feel really helpless when we're being toppled over with multiple responsibilities. Before you overthink every single thing you have to do practice mindfulness. Take 3 deep breaths and ask yourself "what is the next right thing to do?". Mindfulness brings clarity into our minds and will help to remind us what's really important and what is not. Use this focus to complete one task at a time rather than multitasking so you don't get too overwhelmed.

Stress is an emotion experienced by everyone. Remember you are human, don't be so hard on yourself because there is only so much you can do. Make your health a priority before anything else. You can't achieve anything if you are not in the best form. To prevent stress from harming your health in the long term, handle your stress better in the present moment.