Many of our difficulties originate with stress and anxiety. Packed schedules, competition in the workplace and social circles, pressures to be perfect, and lack of self-care (e.g., sleep, exercise, healthy eating) all play a part in high stress and anxiety levels.
Those who know me well know that I can suffer pretty severe anxiety. Anything that requires numbers – I will need someone to talk me down out of my anxious state. And nothing makes me more anxious than being late – I become light headed and nauseous. The mind is powerful!
Stress is described as “the psycho-physiological responses of the individual to any influence which disturbs homeostasis.” What does this mean? Physical, mental, and emotional changes to your body’s normal balance. These changes depend on a given individual’s tolerance to stress. What might cause a great deal of stress to me may not elicit the same response in you. And vice versa. Stress can be the result of environmental factors, although illness and nutrition can also play a role. An individual’s reaction to stress can involve aggression and anger or inversely, inhibition, regression, and fear (Moran, 2004).
Anxiety involves a feeling of fear or a perception of threat and it may or may not be specific to a particular situation. Possible symptoms are nausea, loss of composure, reduced motor coordination, and aggression (Moran, 2004). The intensity of anxiety can be directly related to the amount of associated stress and more often than not depends on the individual’s perception.
The following tips can help you while learning to manage stress and anxiety.
- Be informed. Ask questions and know your expectations, roles, and responsibilities.
- Use imagery. Imagine yourself performing the tasks – flawlessly and with ease.
- Maintain a strong social support system. Having strong social support can help you cope with the stress, whether by having someone practice scripts with you – for example before a big presentation – or by watching a movie to distract you for a time.
- Practice physical and mental relaxation. Release tension and clear the mind. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery are two forms of self-care. Treat yourself to a massage. Learn self-massage or tapping!
- Communicate. Let friends, family members, and colleagues know how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
- Get plenty of sleep. Inadequate rest can lead to fatigue and poor judgment.
- Drink plenty of water. Everything suffers – physically, mentally, and emotionally – when the body is not properly hydrated.
- Maintain a positive attitude. And practice self-talk. People with positive attitudes tend to approach problems with more hopeful and optimistic views.
- Maintain realistic expectations and goals. Having unrealistic expectations can lead to unnecessary pressure and stres.
- Celebrate. Recognize goals and milestones that you have achieved!
Everyone of us faces periods of stress and anxiety. Some of us have more serious experiences, but often times we can manage daily situations by implementing one or a few of the above tips.
What tips do you have for managing stress and anxiety?
Koslowsky, M. (1998). Modeling the stress-strain relationship in work settings. New York: Routledge.
Moran, A. P. (2004). Sport and exercise psychology: A critical introduction. New York: Routledge.
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