Practical Approaches for Managing Stress


Stress is inexorable, you have bills to pay, deadlines to meet, demands of work and family responsibilities and a host of other things. There’s just so much that can make life very stressful. Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to minimize and stress and regain control. Managing stress is all about taking charge of your lifestyle, emotions, thoughts, and actions. Here are proven strategies for handling stress and relieving the pressure:

1. Keep a stress diary
When stressed, it often seem like the stress is from every angle, this is especially true when it comes to isolating the sources of everyday stress. But keeping a stress journal will help you to identify the situations that caused the stress in the first instance.  Is it an upcoming exam, project at work, a heap of dishes, a dispute with your boss, or an argument with your spouse? Note down the following details:

  • Date, time and place of the situation
  • Take note of who was with you and how you felt both physically and emotionally. 
  • Use the journal to pinpoint what trigger your stress and how effectively you were able to manage it. Doing this will help you to avoid stressful situations and help you develop effective coping mechanisms.
  • Once you identify stressors that are within your control, determine the best line of action.

 2. Change your emotional response
Stress management does not necessarily mean eliminating stressors from your life. It means taking control of the situation and working out positive strategies for coping with stress to avoid damaging consequences. Don’t think about stress as an event in itself; instead think about it as your reaction to an event. Doing this will help you find healthy ways to manage stress. Some stressors may be out of your control, but you can control your response to them. It’s true that you can’t control the state of the economy, what your boss does or the negative remark of a co-worker.  You can however control how you react to the different scenarios.

3. Indulge in physical activity
Stressful situations elevate the level of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body, and this is where physical exercise comes in. Physical activity plays an important role in reducing the effects of stress, by releasing endorphins the “feel good” hormone that boosts your moods and melts anger. Just about any form of physical activity can take your mind away from worries and help relieve tension, stress and frustration. Integrate some form of physical exercise into your daily routine on a regular basis. Here are some easy ways:

  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Use the stairs at work 
  • Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot and walk the rest of the way
  • Get yourself an exercise partner that will keep you motivated. 
  • Play an outdoor game with your kids

4. Try meditation
Medication is very effective for managing stress. It basically involves listening to your own breathing or focusing on a view to clear your mind of other worries and anxieties. Mediation is a good skill to practice right when you wake up or at the end of your day. Repeating a mantra can also help you to clear your mind and make focus easier. With constant practice, you will be able to use this skill to relieve stress.
5. Pay attention to your diet
Kick start your metabolism with a healthy breakfast that will keep your energy up throughout the day and help clear your mind. Limit the consumption of caffeine and sugar as well as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. Drugs and alcohol only provide a temporary relief from stress, instead of masking the underlying issue endeavor to tackle the problem with a clear mind.

6. Manage your time
Learn to prioritize your tasks with the help of a TO DO list, because oftentimes stress results when you’re overwhelmed with the tasks at hand. List all the tasks you have to accomplish and list them in order of genuine priority. Mark the ones you can outsource and the one you need to handle personally. Remember to create time for relaxation as well as unexpected tasks.

In summary
Stress is usually triggered by a problem that may seem impossible to handle on the surface but you can manage stress by: 

  • Identifying the underlying cause of the stress and then taking the necessary actions. 
  • Keeping a stress dairy
  • Engaging in physical activities 
  • Having a positive outlook

Managing stress is much easier; when your life is filled with activities you love. An effective way to live a purposeful and fulfilling life free from stress is to do something you love.