Stress is the “wear and tear” on our bodies as we adjust to our ever-changing environment. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, whether we like it or not. It can impact us physically and emotionally, causing positive and negative feelings.
Stress can be beneficial, which is referred to as positive stress. Positive pressure improves our ability to concentrate and focus and can even help us survive. Our physical stress response assists us in dealing with difficult situations and is an automatic and necessary part of life. Positive stress motivates us to take action and can create new awareness and an exciting new perspective.
Symptoms of Stress Management
Stress can impact us physically, mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally. Among the signs and symptoms are:
Physical symptoms include fatigue, headaches, insomnia, muscle aches/stiffness (particularly in the neck, shoulders, and low back), heart palpitations, chest pains, and nausea.
Mental symptoms include decreased concentration and memory, indecisiveness, racing thoughts or going blank, confusion, and loss of humor.
Anxiety, nervousness, depression, anger, frustration, worry, fear, irritability, impatience, and a short temper are all emotional symptoms.
Behavioral symptoms include pacing, fidgeting, increased eating, smoking, drinking, crying, yelling, blaming, and even throwing or hitting.
Causes and Risk Factors for Stress Management
Stressors are the things that cause stress. There are two types of this: external and internal.
External stressors include major life events such as job loss, the death of a loved one, or physical demands such as excessive lighting or noise.
Internal stressors happen to us. Internal stressors are added to our lives when we have unrealistic expectations, negative self-talk, or choose a lifestyle that includes excessive caffeine and alcohol and a consistent lack of sleep.
Treatments for Stress Management
How can we better manage stress? There are numerous ways to manage stress, just as there are multiple sources of stress. All, however, necessitate change: changing the source of stress or changing your reaction to it.
Be aware of your stressors and your emotional and physical reactions to them.
Learn more about stress in general.
Don’t ignore your anguish. Determine the sources of your distress.
Examine how your body reacts to stress. Do you experience nervousness or physical discomfort?
Recognize what you can change.
Change your stressors by avoiding or eliminating them.
Reduce their frequency or intensity.
Reduce stress exposure (take a break, leave the stressful environment).
Reduce the ferocity with which you react emotionally to stress.
Do you intend to please everyone? At times, try saying “NO.”
Try to think of stress as something you can manage rather than something that overwhelms you.
Control your physical responses to stress.
Experiment with slow, deep breathing exercises. (Description follows) They will restore your heart rate and breathing rate to normal.
Muscle tension can be reduced using relaxation techniques such as Jacobson’s Progressive Relaxation Therapy.
Using biofeedback, you can gain voluntary control over muscle tension, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Massage and applying heat to tense muscles improve blood circulation and aid in muscle relaxation.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Three to four times per week, exercise for cardiovascular fitness (such as walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging is good).
Consume nutritious, well-balanced meals.
Keep your ideal weight.
Avoid nicotine, caffeine in excess, and other stimulants.
Get enough sleep and stick to your sleep schedule as much as possible.
Maintain your emotional well-being.
Make some mutually beneficial friendships/relationships.
Accept and acknowledge your feelings and limitations.
Rather than goals that others have for you that you do not share, pursue realistic goals that are meaningful to you.
Make time to unwind and have fun. Be gentle with yourself.
Exercising Deep Breathing
The deep breathing exercise is a simple yet effective stress management technique. It can help you replace the rapid, shallow breathing caused by stress with long, deep breaths that use your entire lung capacity. This simple exercise, done for 1-2 minutes several times a day, can help relieve various stressful emotions.
Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
You do not need to take any deeper breaths than usual—just the average depth of your breathing.
Slowly reduce your breathing rate. You can accomplish this by breathing in and counting 1 – 2 – 3 before exhaling. It would help if you tried to breathe at a rate of 12 to 14 breaths per minute.
Relax the muscles in and around your neck and shoulders.
Continue these breathing control exercises for 5 to 10 minutes or until you are no longer short of breath.
Describe two external stressors that are unique to adolescents. Discuss what risk-taking behaviors may result from the external stressors and what support or coping mechanism can be introduced.