Stress is a way human beings react to both physical and mental changes, events, and situations in their lives. Humans experience stress in different ways for different reasons and it is based on your perception of an event or situation. You will feel distressed, overwhelmed, oppressed, or out of control if you view a situation negatively. The most familiar form of stress is distress. The other form is eustress which is a result of a positive view of a situation and therefore it is also called “good stress”. This good stress helps you rise to a challenge and engages focused energy. But this energy can easily be turned into distress if you analyze a situation as unmanageable or out of your control. Distress causes physical reactions such as an increased heart rate and a loss of appetite. Stress is often a question of perception - positive stress for one person can be negative stress for another. The only way stress is helpful is that it can benefit a person from learning about the condition. Just by understanding how dangerous stress can be, a person can begin to take action accordingly to its effects.

Here are a few facts and statistics related to stress according to the Global Organization for Stress:

  1. Stress is a hormonal response from your body. It affects the hypothalamus in your brain which sends signals to your kidneys which releases stress hormones
  2. Compared to men, women are more prone to stress
  3. It overburdens your mind. Instead of focusing on one thing at a time, you tend to focus on everything at once
  4. Due to the stress hormones that are released in your body, you may feel dizzy or jittery at times
  5. Stress raises your blood pressure which makes you feel hot during a few stressful situations. This excessive heat may produce stress sweat.
  6. It can also cause digestive problems such as diarrhea, stomach upset, and excessive urination
  7. It may cause mood swings such as irritation and anger, sadness, and even affect your sleep
  8. Long-term stress can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
  9. Tension headaches or chronicle headaches may cope up every time you deal with stress
  10. Shortness of breath is a common sign of stress. This is caused due to the tightness of your breathing muscles which tend to make them tired
  11. Your skin reacts to stress through acne or itchy rashes
  12. A decrease in the immune system can happen due to stress. Chronic stress can also cause substance abuse
  13. Few body changes might be ulcers, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeats, and chest pain
  14. About 33% of people report extreme stress in their lives
  15. 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health and 73% of people experience stress that affects their mental health
  16. 48% of people face trouble sleeping
  17. 80% of people feel stress at work
  18. It is also one of the most health concern for high school students
  19. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder are triggered by traumatic experiences 
  20. Knowing how to reduce stress, stress management, stress relief can benefit your entire life.

Reasons for Stress

Stress is a normal part of life. It is good when you look at it in a positive way and work towards it but it’s bad when it starts getting onto you and starts becoming a long-term problem. It can cause a lot of physical and mental issues if not treated the right way. 

Why do we feel stressed? There’s a lot of reasons why one can feel stressed out. A few might be -

The most common type of stress is work stress. The majority of people consider their work or their workplace the most stressful. This can be due to a few reasons such as unhappy with your job, workload, long working hours, poor management, dangerous working conditions, no say in the decisions of your work, risk of termination, facing discrimination or harassment at your workplace

Life stresses can have a big impact as well. Life stresses such as the death of a loved one, divorce, getting married, losing your job, high financial obligations, traumatic events or a natural disaster

Stress does not have to always be an external force. At times, stress is internal such as worrying about things. Few factors that lead to internal stress can be -

  • Uncertainty and fear. You feel uncertain about various things you hear on news such as terrorist attacks and global warming and this causes stress cause you feel like you have no control over it. Fear causes stress when you think you can not finish your project or pay your bills.
  • Perceptions and the way you react to situations. The way you view and analyze a situation can determine whether it causes stress or not. if you look at a situation in a positive way with confidence, you are likely to be less stressed and perform better. But if you are scared and negative about a situation, you will face a lot of stress.
  • Expectations. When you think that you are good at everything at all times, you feel stressed about the things which go wrong.
  • Change. A drastic change in life can cause a high level of stress 

20 ways to reduce stress:

How to reduce stress? This is one of the most frequently asked questions by people of many ages. Stress is good for you to get your work done but bad when it’s too much stress to handle. There are many ways to reduce stress. Few of the helpful ways to help you reduce your stress level during situations are -

  1. Diaphragmatic or deep breathing exercises
  2. Lie face down with your hands under your face and breathe deeply and slowly. This helps to calm your body down
  3. Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest. As you breathe, make sure you move your hand up and down on your abdomen rather than the one on your chest
  4. Progressively tense and relax the muscles in your body
  5. Meditation is one of the effective ways. Sit quietly and imagine and concentrate on your happy place 
  6. Do a few physical exercises or yoga
  7. If you feel too much stress and pressure, consult a psychologist
  8. Make time for the hobbies that help you relax and distract you
  9. Learn to identify the situations that stress you out the most and learn to manage that stress according;y
  10. Organize your daily events and complete them so that you have a sense of mastery and do not feel stressed out at the very last minute 
  11. Always make sure that you know things which suggest that you aren’t coping well to a situation
  12. Learn to say ‘no’ to the thighs you are not comfortable with
  13. Avoid substances such as alcohol, nicotine, or excessive caffeine
  14. Get your daily amount of sleep. Lack of significant sleep can cause stress too
  15. Try relaxation techniques such as physical exercises and breathing exercise and many more
  16. If you feel really stressed out, do not hesitate to talk to someone. Talking to someone helps you relax, understand your problem better and find a solution to it in an easier way when compared to dealing with it all on your own
  17. One of the stress management tools is to note down the things that stress you out. This keeps you aware of your surroundings
  18. Take control of your problems. Try to deal with your problems by yourself. This will keep you relaxed and help you  gain confidence
  19. Manage your time. When you feel you have a lot to do but less time, you get stressed. That’s why know how to prioritize your work according to your time
  20. Give some rest to your body. Especially when ill. Your body needs recovery from time to time.

Exercises to reduce stress

Exercise in any form can help you release stress. Being active releases feel-good endorphins which helps you distract yourself from your daily routine. It increases your overall health and your sense of well being. The best way to reduce stress is by exercising. Here are a few reasons to understand why -

  • It pumps up your endorphins which is a happy pill and produces feel-good neurotransmitters. It gives you the energy and helps you concentrate on what makes you happy
  • It’s like a meditation in motion. As you exercise, you begin to shed your daily tensions and focus on a single task which results in keeping you calm and clear in everything you do
  • You aren’t in a good mood when you are stressed out. This improves your mood and increases your self-confidence, relaxes you, and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also improves your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress. All this gives you a sense of command over your body and helps you ease your stress levels.

Few stress-reducing exercises:

  1. Yoga

Yoga postures are a form of strength training that makes you more resilient and flexible which inturn relieves physical tension. It requires deep breathing which triggers the body’s relaxation response. Yoga also reduces blood pressure and it’s the biggest benefit is the mental focus that it promotes. And the focus is the key to stress management.

  1. Tai Chi

This is an ancient Chinese martial art form which is about the physical movement and the breath. This exercise promotes a focus on the present. It is a mental absorption by which everyday worries fall away. This also increases flexibility and boosts energy, better balance and increase cardiovascular fitness

  1. Qigong

this is somewhat similar to tai chi and is considered as one of the cornerstones of Chinese medicine along with herbs and acupuncture. Practicing this regularly can help you increase feelings of serenity, improve sleep and digestion, and also increase energy in your body. It helps in relaxing your nervous system completely

  1. Walking

walking can reduce the incidence of many of the stress-related conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. People who walk regularly show reduced stress levels and gained self-confidence. This releases tension from the major muscle group and deepens the breathing and quiets the nervous system

  1. Gardening

this is a low impact workout. But this is effective because it burns down a lot of calories. Weeding the ground can alone burn 200 calories an hour and hauling bags can burn 600 calories an hour. Most importantly, gardening has the stress-busting bonus of putting you in contact with the earth and refreshes your spirit

  1. Dancing

dancing has a lot of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. It improves grace, agility, and also raises your heart rate. It fosters a sense of community and connection to other people which helps you lower the stress levels and boosts happiness

  1. Circuit training

this alternates weight-training moves with cardio, with short rests in between. This is a high-intensity workout and is short and pumps up your body’s endorphin level which improves your mood. This results in no stress

  1. Pilates

this is a series of exercise that emphasizes body awareness, core strength, and proper alignment. Pilates creates a physical harmony that doesn’t allow stress to take over on you. The mental concentration required zaps you into the moment, leaving little mental space for you to worry about things. This is usually known for reducing neck pain and back pain which is another side effect of stress

  1. Tennis

this is a great cardio workout. It can prevent many stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure and heart diseases. As this is a team sport, you keep yourself connected to other people - a key to stress reduction. This sport triggers endorphins into your body which makes you feel at peace and satisfied

  1. Kickboxing

this involves controlled punching and kicking movements carried out with discipline which is a powerful means of reducing stress. It helps you improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination. It is an outlet to release energy and anger which can relieve stress.

Along with these exercises, you can simply do a few easy exercises such as running, spinning, in-line rollerskating, team sports, cycling, and many more.

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