How you can deal with stress now

Christmas can make us sad and stressed

I am so stressed. How often do we say that to ourselves and to others. But what is stress anyway? How can you deal with stress better?

You can deal with stress if you know where it is coming from.
You can deal with stress if you know where it is coming from.

Stress is our body’s reaction to a situation in which we are under pressure and feel unable to act. This reaction is an evolutionary mechanism designed to protect us. To understand how exactly the stress processes take place in our body, we can first imagine a Stone Age man sitting comfortably at his height. He hears an unknown sound, and the following happens: his body immediately releases adrenaline, his heart starts beating faster and delivers blood to the muscles.

His breathing goes faster, he gets more oxygen, which is also delivered to the muscles. His pupils dilate so he can see better. Less important functions, such as bowel movement and bladder function, are cut back. The Stone Age man is now alert and in a state of stress. When the sound turns out to be a friend from the other cave, the stress state is scaled back again.

Unfortunately, we have not evolved much in terms of stress and its reactions. We still suspect a threat at every small change. A sound, a situation, a feeling: everything can put us into stress. The problem is: In the Stone Age, such situations happened once or twice a day. Today, we constantly have stimuli that can trigger stress. And we don’t know how to deal with stress and what it actually is.

But there is a second level of stress: psychological pressure. We speak of stress when we can no longer cope with a situation. This can be the workload or raising the children, problems in the partnership or climate change. But our emergency reactions no longer help here, because the situation is ongoing and doesn’t go away after a few minutes.

Stress can make you sick

Scientists of the University Medical Center in Chicago have, as they report in the current issue of the journal “Neurology”, evaluated two larger studies with over 1000 participants. The subjects were examined physically and mentally and asked, among other things, how they deal with stress. In a follow-up study twelve years later, more than a third of the subjects showed slight or moderate impairment of their brain performance. The researchers were able to demonstrate a link between the degree of susceptibility to stress and the extent of memory loss.

3 best ways how you deal with stress

In order for you to combat stress, you must first identify it. You need to be aware that you are stressed and then figure out where the stress is actually coming from. The following questions can help you to do this:

  • Do I feel stress in the morning?
  • Am I stressed at work?
  • Is the stress stronger at home?
  • Can I fall asleep easily?
  • Am I motivated?
  • Do I eat more than I should?
  • Am I unkind to others?
  • Do I get angry often?
  • Have I gained a lot of weight?
walk the path 1437415
Walking is one way how to deal with stress.

If you answer yes to more than three questions, you are probably stressed. Now you have to try to find the causes, and then you will learn how to deal with stress. These are almost always at home or at work. In both cases you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • In which situations do I feel uncomfortable?
  • What has caused discomfort in the past?
  • What thoughts keep me from falling asleep?
  • What has made me frustrated or angry?

If you answer yes to more than three questions, you are probably stressed. Now you have to try to find the causes. These are almost always at home or at work. In both cases you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • In which situations do I feel uncomfortable?
  • What has caused discomfort in the past?
  • What thoughts keep me from falling asleep?
  • What has made me frustrated or angry?

Now that you know where the stress comes from, you can counter it in those situations and get better in how to deal with . It is important that you notice the stressful situation and act immediately.

These 4 exercises can help you reduce stress:

  1. Breathing
  • Take 10 deep breaths in and out.
  • Inhale for 4-5 seconds
  • Hold for 4-8 seconds
  • Exhale for 5-10 seconds
  • Deep breathing stimulates a nerve that connects those regions of the brain that calm you down.
  1. Walking
    Walk around the block once, for at least 20 minutes. You don’t have to run, you can walk normally. Try to pay attention to your breathing. It must be even. If you want, you can also count the steps.
  2. Laughing
    You may not believe it, but laughing out loud is a great therapy against stress. It’s not always easy and sometimes it can be embarrassing, but it’s freeing. The best thing to do is to practice it at home: try to laugh as loud and as long as possible. After five minutes you will feel better – and also a little exhausted.
  3. Meditation
    If you are already advanced in stress management, meditation can help you cope with stress. If you see a situation coming or are in the middle of it, even small, hidden meditation exercises can help you get back in tune with yourself.

In addition to these exercises, you should also work on stress prevention in a sustainable way. And that relates to your lifestyle. Stress often includes a wrong or unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

Professor Chris McCarthy discusses the psychology of stress in the workplace and the bodys physical reaction to it.

Tips for sustainable stress reduction:

Eat healthy. Try to eat less meat, but more vegetables and fiber.
Cook your own food: Preparing your own meals can reduce stress, but it also gives you a better sense of what you are eating.
Drink less alcohol: Try to drink alcohol only once or twice a week and then in moderation. Enjoy a wine, beer or whiskey instead of seeing alcohol as a reward.
More exercise: Any form of exercise is good for stress. Just walking for an hour a day is enough. Better, of course, is jogging or ball sports.
Positive experiences: Look for the beautiful things in life. Ask yourself every evening what you have experienced, what you have learned and what you are looking forward to tomorrow.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as a diagnosis, treatment, preventive, or cure for any disease, disorder, or abnormal physical state, nor should it be considered a substitute for medical care from your doctor. On any matter relating to your health or well-being—and prior to undertaking any health-related activity—consult an appropriate health professional. 

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Author: Marcus Mollbaur

Marcus is an longtime writer and journalist. Now, he lives with his wife in South-East-Asia and works as a freelance content writer on health, lifestyle, management, and business topics. He loves dogs and photography.

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