Blog: Learning to manage stress is critical for your mental health
by CynthiaMadison

Learning to manage stress is critical for your mental health

To a certain degree, stress is a natural emotion that occurs when you feel overwhelmed by different events happening in your life.

Date:   5/17/2022 1:13:16 PM   ( 3 mon ) ... viewed 36 times

To a certain degree, stress is a natural emotion that occurs when you feel overwhelmed by different events happening in your life. Besides working as a motivator, stress is also critical to survival. The fight or flight mechanism occurs at the moment when a situation feels threatening, telling you that you should do something to escape danger. It’s meant to keep you safe. But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can be detrimental to your mental health. 

Stress becomes a chronic condition if you don’t learn how to cope with it. Life has its ups and downs, so wanting to get rid of stress entirely is unrealistic. Instead, you can find ways to manage it effectively so that it doesn’t become harmful. 

What causes stress? 

People’s response to stressful situations is different. While an event may be stressful for someone, another person may cope with it better. 

While there is no definite reason why this happens, some people may be more vulnerable to stress due to certain factors. For instance, individuals suffering from a mental health condition like anxiety or depression are likely to get easily stressed. 

Additionally, past experiences may also influence someone’s reaction to stressors.

 

Stress can occur as a result of some significant life events, such as: 

  • Bereavement;

  • Illness;

  • Job issues;

  • Financial problems;

  • Divorce or marriage;

  • Family problems;

  • Pregnancy loss;

  • Uncertainty;

  • Becoming a parent.

Traumatic events, like accidents or abuse, can also trigger continuous stress. This condition is known as PTSD

Tips for managing stress

Engage in physical activity

Working out regularly can help you relax your mind and body. Plus, physical activity is also an effective way of improving your well-being. However, if you want to reap its benefits, it’s imperative to be consistent. Choose jogging, swimming laps, aerobics, or other sports you prefer. You don’t necessarily have to train for a marathon or go to the gym – even some simple stretches can provide instant relief during stressful times. 


When you engage in physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which help you cope with stress and pain. Plus, exercising also improves sleep – and when you sleep better, it’s easier to manage stress. 

Have a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet isn’t only beneficial for your physical health – it’s also an effective way to look after your mental health. A healthy diet strengthens your immune system, lowers stress levels, and reduces blood pressure. Too much fat and added sugar can have an adverse effect. 

So, to manage stress better, you should eat meals rich in proteins. Include vegetables, whole grains and fruit in your diet. According to scientists, the following nutrients can also reduce stress effects on the mind and body:

  • Magnesium

  • Omega-3 fatty acids 

  • Vitamin C

Also, make sure not to skip any of your meals because it may affect your mood and thus, increase your stress. Try to be mindful when eating, and avoid processed foods as much as possible. 

Use relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, are an effective way of coping with stress. When practising deep breathing, you enter a state of relaxation, changing how your body responds to stressors. 


You can also try meditation. This practice has been around for more than 5,000 years, and there’s a good reason for it, as meditation has numerous benefits. It reduces stress and chronic pain and improves sleep and mood. All you have to do is find a quiet place and get comfortable by either lying down or sitting. Then, you have to focus your attention on a specific object, phrase or your breath and, rather than engaging with your thoughts, become a mere observer.

Seek support

If you feel overwhelmed by what’s going on in your life, talking about your problems can reduce your stress. Rather than bottling up your feelings, turn to family members or friends for support. They will surely be more than happy to listen to you.

 

You can also seek the support of a stress counsellor to learn how to better manage the problems in your life. While friends and family members can be a comforting ear, they are not professionals and cannot teach you strategies to deal with stressors. But a mental health expert can do that. Reaching out to a counsellor or therapist has numerous benefits – it provides practical tools to help you navigate challenging times and improves your well-being. 

Do more of the things you love

It’s essential to make time for the activities you enjoy, as it will help reduce your stress. Set aside 15 to 20 minutes every day to do something you love. 


Sometimes people get so caught up in their responsibilities that they forget to take breaks. However, scheduling some time for yourself is vital for your well-being. Relaxing hobbies involve activities such as: 

  • Reading a book;

  • Watching a movie;

  • Playing board games;

  • Making art;

  • Doing puzzles. 

Track your triggers

Recognizing your triggers will help you reduce them. Think about the most significant factors that cause you stress. They may include your job, schoolwork or commute. 


If you can’t recognize your triggers, consider keeping a journal where you write about the times you get most anxious. This can help you identify a pattern and look for ways to reduce the triggers. 

Pay attention to your inner dialogue

The way you speak to yourself matters, so try to notice when you are too hard on yourself. You can’t do everything perfectly all the time, and neither can you control many things that happen to you. However, you can control how you handle the situations in your life.


Catch yourself when you start to engage in negative self-talk and try to change it into a more compassionate one. You’re doing the best you can, but sometimes life gets overwhelming, and during these times, you should take care of yourself. 

Get enough sleep

Sleep also plays a significant role in how you cope with stress. When you are not well-rested, you can get irritated and anxious quickly. 

Healthy sleep habits are critical in getting a good night’s rest. Here are some things you can do to improve sleep:

  • Avoid using your electronic devices 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime;

  • Create and stick to a regular sleep schedule;

  • Try relaxation techniques before going to bed;

  • Spend time in the sunlight during the day.


The environment in your bedroom also influences your sleep quality. You need a quiet and dark room to be able to fall asleep. Also, your mattress should provide comfort and support. Thus, make sure to consider all these aspects and change your sleep habits if necessary. When you wake up rested, you’re better equipped to deal with life’s challenges.  

  

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