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Understand Your Stress

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

Be attuned to your triggering stressors and learn how to manage them.

There are three main types of stress: acute, episodic and chronic. Acute stress is caused by a short-term event, such as planning a holiday celebration. Episodic stress is another short-term form of stress, but these occur more frequently. For example, feeling pressured to meet specific deadlines or making sure dinner is ready on time are episodic stressors. Chronic stress is long-term stress caused by major life events, such as relationship issues, illness, and more.

Stress can originate from many different causes. Among the most common are the need to live with chronic diseases, retirement adjustment, loss of spouse, insomnia & financial changes. Living with high levels of stress raises the risk of heart disease, can cause heartburn, worsen diabetes, raise blood pressure, cause insomnia, and make people feel anxious, worried, depressed or frustrated.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of natural remedies that can help you curb stress when it's at its peak. Be sure to do something that you enjoy. If you enjoy reading, then stock up on your favorite author's works and read until you feel better. Go for a walk in the park, talk to someone you trust about your stressful day or go out to play with your grandchildren.

Some ways to naturally reduce stress include:


1. Meditation and Deep Breathing

  • Take a break from what you are doing and take some deep breaths. This can be done wherever you are - behind your desk, while driving your car, in the middle of a busy coffee shop at morning rush hour. Close your eyes and think of something positive.

  • Giving yourself a mental break in all of your current stressful madness can have powerful effects. Pair this with some light yoga to take in all of the relaxation you can muster. This will ease your muscles in your back, neck, chest and other locations on your body.

  • Don't worry if you find it difficult to relax at first. These types of relaxation techniques are skills that need to be learned and refined with practice.

2. Talk to Someone

  • Just talking to someone about how you feel can change your mood for the entire day.

  • Talking can work by either distracting you from your stressful thoughts or releasing some of the built-up tension by discussing it.

  • Stress can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing things clearly. Talking things through with a friend, work colleague, or even a trained professional, can help you find solutions to your stress and put your problems into perspective.

3. Say No When You Need To

  • Are you always saying yes to things you'd rather not spend your time doing? If you aren't comfortable with something or honestly don't have time you should learn to say no. Your mental health will thank you for it.

  • You might feel reluctant to respond to a request with a straight “No,” at least at first. Instead, think of some pre-prepared phrases to let other people down more gently.

Practice saying phrases such as:

“I am sorry, but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
“Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. Why don’t you ask me again at….?”
“I’d love to do this, but …”

  • To learn to say “No,” you need to understand why you find it difficult. Many people find it hard to say “No” because they want to help and are trying to be nice and to be liked. For others, it is a fear of conflict, rejection or missed opportunities. Remember that these barriers to saying “No” are all self-created.

4. Get More Sleep

  • A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately, though, stress also interrupts our sleep as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

  • Maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you.

  • You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day so that your mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine.

5. Write

  • Keep a journal by your bedside or in your desk at work. Write down your thoughts and feelings each time you are stressed. Writing is wonderful therapy. Start a gratitude journal or place one piece of paper in a jar every day for a year. Write about what you are thankful for. Realizing your blessings, even the small ones, can help you overcome stress.

  • Keeping a stress diary for a few weeks is a useful stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed.

  • Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.

With practice, you can learn to manage your stress levels in your everyday life. Learning how to reduce stress and its associated patterns can make you a more active participant in living a happier life.

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