For many adults, stress is an ever-present part of life. Though published statistics on stress vary, it’s safe to assume many men and women experience significant stress, especially when the economy is struggling, as it has been over the last several years.
The prevalence of stress serves to highlight the emphasis men and women must place on reducing and, whenever possible, preventing it. Though it might be impossible to eliminate stress all-together, learning to manage existing stress can improve your quality of life significantly. When attempting to manage stress, it can help to ask yourself a few important questions:
- What is the cause of my stress?
Stress can be caused by a number of things, but for many people, the main cause of their stress is work. In fact, a report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that 40 percent of workers found their job was very or extremely stressful. Stress at the workplace has become even more overwhelming in recent years as the economy has sagged and workers who managed to keep their jobs were asked to do more to make up for smaller staffs.
If work isn’t what is causing you to stress out, then it might help to maintain a stress journal. This will allow you to track stressful incidents and miscellaneous stressors in the hopes of identifying just what it might be that’s stressing you out.
- How can I manage this stress?
Stress levels can worsen depending on how you respond to stressful incidents. For many people, effective stress management revolves around finding healthier ways to cope. Unfortunately, it’s common to respond to stress in a host of negative ways. Over consumption of alcohol, smoking, over or under-eating, withdrawing from friends and family, and sleeping too much are common—yet unhealthy—ways to respond to stress.
Managing and coping with stress in healthy ways involves finding solutions that benefit your emotional and physical well-being. Drinking too much won’t accomplish either of those things, so find healthier responses such as exercising more. Exercise releases endorphins which provide a feeling of well-being, so there is no doubt about its efficacy for managing stress. PcPools encourages swimming laps in your swimming pool: it combines the benefits of a full-body workout with the soothing and calming sensation of water. Whatever your choice of exercise, do something that forces you to focus on your body, which gives your mind a break.
Besides exercise, many people find physical relaxation techniques helpful. For some, that could be a calm dip in their pool, gliding through the water at a slow pace. Others might seek out a sauna, a hot tub, or even an afternoon at the spa. The point is to put yourself in a position to allow your mind to get a break. Figure out what works for you and stick with it.
If your solution to stress improves your overall health and involves something that makes you feel better both emotionally and physically, then you might begin to notice that the stress is no longer overwhelming.
- Can I prevent this stress?
Stress prevention can be difficult, though it is not impossible. Since so many people cite work as their primary cause of stress, it may very well be impossible to eliminate stress entirely, but there are ways to alleviate unnecessary stress as well as prevent it from overtaking your life.
Recognize you have limits. High rates of unemployment have left many working men and women feeling as though they need to keep stretching themselves at work in order to keep their job and stay afloat. But you must learn to say “no” if stress has become overwhelming. Don’t take added responsibilities if your workload is already full.
Avoid the source of stress. When possible, avoid the source of the stress. For example, if you spend ample time each day sitting in a traffic jam, consider leaving at a different time to avoid that or try an alternate route. Public transportation, where available, may also be an effective choice.
Manage your time more effectively. Learning to manage your time more effectively, which starts with planning ahead and not procrastinating, can help turn a hectic and stressful schedule into a far more manageable one.
Make time to relax. Part of stress management, prevention, and avoidance is making time to relax and have fun. Spend time outdoors and don’t skip outings with family and friends. Use your allotted vacation time even if you just stay home and relax. Taking time out for yourself can help your recharge and put you in a better frame of mind to cope with stress when it inevitably returns.
Stress cannot and will not ever fully go away, but employing management and prevention strategies can help you avoid succumbing to its effects and improve your overall quality of life.