Published on November 1st, 2019 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Reduce 3 Types Of Stress And Feel Better Now
By Renee Goyeneche–
“Are you under a lot of stress?”
We’re hearing this more often during doctor’s visits, and for good reason. Research shows that up to 90% of doctor’s visits are now for stress-related issues, and that stress has been conclusively tied to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
Stress can be categorized two ways: acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Everyday events induce acute stress; things like getting a flat tire on the way to work, arriving late for an important appointment or having a disagreement with a loved one. Your body is fairly resilient in this context, meaning your heart rate or muscle tension may rise sharply for a short time, but will generally revert back to normal levels quickly.
Over time, however, a recurring set of acute stress factors can develop into chronic stress, which becomes a much more serious health concern. Chronic stress wears you down day after day, month after month… and if left untreated, it can have lasting and sometimes permanent effects on your physical and mental health.
As such, it’s important to examine the underlying causes of stress, because an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. Planning, delegating and learning better time management skills will both lighten your load and develop your coping mechanisms for when stressful situations inevitably occur.
Take a look at what’s stressing you, and you’ll find many stress factors fit into one of these 3 categories:
1) “Time Crunch” Stress
We live in a “time is money” world, which tends to mean everything is on rush, all the time. Deadlines are constantly looming, and thanks to 24/7 connectivity, you’re expected to respond immediately to any and all demands, both work and personal.
Physical Symptoms: Anxiety, fatigue, stomachaches, headaches, neck and shoulders tension.
How to best combat it: Exercise control over your schedule by saying “no” to more requests and get real about how much time you need to spend on tasks. Keep a calendar and mark out the time you need to complete a project, whether it’s those monthly reports, or the 200 cupcakes you promised to bake for the school fundraiser. Then stick to the schedule you’ve created. Your result will be much better when you’re not hurried or distracted, and you’ll avoid the exhaustion that comes from working into the wee hours because you’ve overcommitted.
2) “My Plate Is Too Full” Stress-
This type of stress develops as we consider the chores and responsibilities on our plate, especially if we look at the big picture of everything that must be accomplished. It’s also often accompanied by feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Symptoms: Panic attacks, hyperventilation, chest pain, insomnia, lethargy.
How to best combat it: Procrastinate. I know, it’s nearly blasphemous to make this suggestion in today’s results-driven society, but hear me out: When you are overwhelmed, your coping and problem-solving skills become compromised. You’re much more likely to make bad decisions, act out of character, or have trouble focusing on the task at hand.
If you’ve got a to-do list that’s a mile long, take a breath and figure out which tasks need immediate attention. Make those a priority, and move what remains to another day or time. You may be surprised; there are very few truly urgent tasks, and with a little perspective, you may find that some items on your list don’t have to be done at all.
3) “Difficult Interaction” Stress-
There are some people with whom you invariably have less-than-ideal interactions: that demanding client, difficult in-law, or unreasonable manager. This type of stress stems from having to manage those interactions knowing that there’s a one-sided or mutual dislike, that the person may become unreasonable or aggressive, or that discussion may run in circles without any resolution.
Symptoms: Anger, high blood pressure, digestive issues, diminished immune system.
How best to combat it: The tension and feelings of dread you associate with these interactions are rooted in the idea that you have no control over how they play out. And while it is true that you can’t change or control people, you can change how you react to them, so keep your cool and remember you’re there for a reason.
Chances are, these interactions follow a pattern, so be proactive and decide beforehand how you want to handle the situation. What do you need from the meeting? Once you’ve identified your goals, keep those objectives in mind as the conversation unfolds. Try to maintain the perspective that if you’ve made progress toward your goals, however small, you’re walking away from the interaction with a win.
Stress is a part of life, and it’s never going to entirely disappear. However, recognizing the things that stress you the most, and working in advance to mitigate them will lead to a happier, healthier you!