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STRESS MANAGEMENT

If you're like many people, you may feel that certain stress relief techniques don’t
work for you while others work quite well. There are reasons that the same stress
relievers can work so differently for various people. Often the techniques that don’t
seem to work for a particular person are ineffective for one of two reasons: either
they are a poor match for the person's personality or for the situation. For example,
breathing exercises can effectively relieve stress, but may not be a powerful
enough technique to be the sole coping strategy for someone
experiencing caregiver stress, chronic job stress, or another type of chronically-
occurring stress.

There are so many different ways to relieve stress that sometimes finding the right
technique for your personality and situation may seem overwhelming, or at least
like more work than you want to tackle when you're already feeling stressed.
Finding stress relievers that work for you, however, can be well worth the effort in
that the work you do to try different techniques that work for you can ultimately
change your whole experience of stress.

Whether you have a few techniques that work for you and are just looking to add
one or two, or need to overhaul your way of dealing with stress and create a whole
new system, the following list can help. These stress relief techniques are grouped
according to various categories you may be looking at when deciding how to best
manage your stress.

1
Acute Stress

Acute stress is the type of stress that throws you off-balance momentarily. This is
the type of stress that comes on quickly and often unexpectedly and doesn’t last
too long, but requires a response and shakes you up a bit, like an argument with
someone in your life, or an exam for which you don’t feel adequately prepared.

Your body's stress response is triggered with acute stress, but you can reverse it
with quick relaxation techniques, and then go back to your day feeling less stressed
again. These stress relievers can help you to relax and more quickly recover from
acute stress.

 Breathing Exercises: Great for acute stress because they work quickly.
 Cognitive Reframing: Learn to change the way you look at the situation to
manage your stress levels.
 Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Like breathing exercises, PMR will give you a
moment to regroup and calm down.
 Mini-Meditation: Take breathing exercises a step further with this quick, 5-
minute meditation technique to calm down in the moment.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is the type of stress that tends to occur on a regular basis. This type
of stress may leave you feeling drained, and can lead to burnout if it’s not
effectively managed. This is because, when the stress response is chronically
triggered and the body is not brought back to a relaxed state before the next wave
of stress hits, the body can stay triggered indefinitely.

Chronic stress can lead to a host of health issues, including cardiovascular disease,
gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, depression, and a host of other conditions. This is why it is
important to effectively manage chronic stress.

Managing this type of stress often requires a combination approach, with some
short-term stress relievers (like those for acute stress), and some long-term stress
relief habits that relieve overall stress. (Different emotion-focused coping
techniques and solution-focused coping techniques are important as well.)

The following long-term habits can help you to better manage general stress that
you may feel from the chronic stressors in your life.

 Exercise Regularly: Exercise and stress management are closely linked


for several reasons.
 Maintain a Healthy Diet: Fueling your body well can help with overall stress
levels because your entire system will function better.
 Cultivate Supportive Relationships: Having a solid support system is a
crucial coping mechanism.
 Meditate Regularly: While quick meditations are great for dealing with
acute stress, a regular meditation practice will help build your overall
resilience to stress.
 Listen to Music: Music can act as a wonderful, stress-reducing backdrop to
everyday tasks.

3
Emotional Stress

The pain of emotional stress can hit harder than some other types of stress. For
example, the stress that comes from a conflicted relationship tends to bring a
greater physical reaction and a stronger sense of distress than the stress that comes
from being busy at work.

Therefore, it is important to be able to manage emotional stress in effective ways.


Strategies that help you to process, diffuse, and build resilience toward emotional
stress can all work well, and different approaches can work in different situations.
Here are some ways to manage emotional stress.

 Write in a Journal: There are several different journaling strategies to try,


all with benefits.
 Talk to a Friend: Learn about the several different types of social support
friends can offer you.
 Listen to Music
 Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness can help keep you rooted in the present
moment.
 Talk to a Therapist

Battling Burnout

Burnout is the result of the prolonged chronic stress of situations that leave people
feeling a lack of control in their lives. Certain conditions of a job can create a
greater risk of burnout, including not only a high level of demands, but also
unclear expectations, lack of recognition for achievements, and a high level of risk
of negative consequences when mistakes are made.

Once you reach a state of burnout, it is difficult to maintain motivation to work and
accomplish what you need to accomplish, and you can feel chronically
overwhelmed. In addition to the strategies that work well for chronic stress and
emotional stress, the following strategies can help you to come back from a state of
burnout—or prevent it entirely.

 Take Some Time Off: If you never take your vacation time, here's why you
should start.
 Get More Laughter Into Your Life: Laughter can lead to better overall health
and bring joy into your day.
 Indulge in Hobbies: Don't wait until your life calms down to engage in your
hobbies.
 Get More Enjoyment Out of Your Current Job: If you landed in a job you
don't love, all is not lost. Learn how to make your job more fulfilling.
 Make Your Weekends Count: Learn how to bring some of your weekend
into your work week for less stress.