At some point in our lives, we all encounter stress. Work, families, relationships, and children are complicated and life can become stressful.
The loss of a job, an illness in the family or a disagreement on an issue with a friend or a spouse can create stress.
Without help, you may struggle to figure out how to be calm in a stressful situation. If you can learn the steps to controlling your emotions in high-stress situations, the impact on your daily life will be significant.
Understanding how to be calm and confident or how to control emotions in love and other aspects of your life is essential for keeping your stress levels in check.
Stress management constitutes an array of physiotherapist and techniques that help people to monitor their stress levels, this in turn enhances their everyday functioning capabilities.
Reducing stress through stress management would enhance your memory and focus, you would be more active during the daytime and would not have trouble sleeping at night.
Stress management can also help you to become more patient, more rational, manage your anger, more intuitive, and improve your mental and physical health.
Before we dive into how you can handle stress full situations and stress in your everyday activities, you also need to know the most common symptoms of stress.
Most common symptoms of stress
- Lack of sleep or insomnia
- Frequent headaches
- Body pain
- Excessive smoking and drinking
- Increased frustrations
- Inability to focus at work
- Often feeling confused
- Sudden loss or gain in weight
- Feeling angry and resenting others
Ways of handling stress
In general, there are two ways to manage your emotions in high-stress situations – responsiveness or reactiveness.
These two ways of handling stress sound similar but they’re actually very different.
Reactivity involves no thought, just emotions. Something stressful occurs and a message is sent to the brain, “I’m in trouble.” The pre-frontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) is shut off and the amygdala (the fear center of the brain) kicks into gear.
The amygdala doesn’t allow you to think through things and instead reacts with fear as it senses an emergency. The amygdala tells you that there are only two options – fight or flight.
You’ll either yell in a defensive, angry way or you will run away. Obviously these two ways of handling a stressful situation are not ideal. So what do you do?
You want to respond to the trigger (the stressful situation) in a thoughtful way. You want to stay in your pre-frontal cortex.
An important thing to remember is that in most cases you don’t need to respond immediately. Here are the steps to respond rather than react:
Imagine a stop sign in your head. This will enable you to visualize what you need to do. A stop sign has a very distinguishable look and you know what it means. You can even take a picture of one on your phone and look at it when you need to.
Take 5-10 belly breaths. Abdominal breathing allows the brain to release a hormone that actually calms you down and keeps the pre-frontal cortex working.
When you breathe in, push your stomach out and when you breath out, pull your stomach in. Abdominal breathing enables you to take much deeper breaths than chest breaths so the brain releases that calming hormone.
Say to yourself, “This can be handled in a few minutes.” Know that you’re not dealing with life or death and a few minutes won’t matter.
If you have the time, brainstorm at least 8- 10 ways to respond. Get a piece of paper and pencil and write down at least 8 ways that you could respond to the trigger.
Choose one of the ways to respond. You won’t respond in the same way you would have had you not done these five steps.
In stress management, these steps take practice in order to be able to use them effectively. But once you practice and learn these skills to effectively respond to stress, you’ll be surprised at how you can go from struggling through daily life to really enjoying each and every day!
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More by Jill Barnett Kaufman