Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stress Management

Being able to identify what is causing stress is an important step in preventing it. Identifying the triggers will enable you to take steps to avoid them and will help you to recognise when you are becoming stressed out again. There are several ways that stress can be prevented. You may find some of the methods that are outlined below useful.

Deep breathing
If you feel yourself getting stressed out, try to halt those feelings in their tracks by relaxing your muscles and taking deep breaths. Start by inhaling for three seconds, then exhale for a little longer. This will help to remove the older oxygen from your lungs and replace it with fresh oxygen that will improve your circulation and alertness.
Continue these deep breathing exercises until you feel calmer and ready to continue what you were doing. It might be better to do something else rather than continue with the stressful task.

Healthy eating
It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet when you are stressed because food and drink can have a big impact on the way that you feel and act. Some people find that stress causes them to snack on sugary, unhealthy foods such as crisps and biscuits. This gives your body a sugar rush followed by a sharp drop in your sugar and energy levels. However, this can make you feel tired or irritable, as well as making it harder for you to concentrate.
Eating at regular times and not skipping meals can make a big difference. This will allow your body to release a steady stream of energy throughout the day which will help improve your concentration and mood. You should also try to reduce the amount of caffeine that you drink because they can have similar effects on your body as stress and anxiety. Drinking too much caffeine - found in tea, coffee and cola drinks - can leave you feeling anxious, irritable and restless.

The benefits of exercise are numerous. Not only does it release a chemical called serotonin, which makes you feel happier and less stressed out, it also improves circulation and also allows you to take out your frustration and anger in a constructive way. You should aim to do a minimum 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Any exercise that increases your heart rate and leaves you slightly out of breath afterwards is beneficial. Examples of these type of activities include running, swimming and cycling.

It is common for your sleep pattern to be disturbed when you are feeling stressed. If you are worried about something it can often be on your mind even when you try to forget about it. This may cause sleepless nights or bad dreams. You may find it difficult getting to sleep or you may wake up a few times during the night. This can also make you tired and groggy the next day, which can make you feel even more stressed out. Try using some relaxation methods that could help you get a good rest.

Quit smoking
Contrary to popular belief, smoking does not help to combat stress. In fact, it can make stress worse and it causes damage to your body. Giving up smoking is not easy and, in the short term, may lead to you feeling more stressed out, or annoyed. However, you should remember that the irritability and craving is a sign that your body is trying to repair itself.

When you are stressed out, your muscles often tense, which can cause muscular aches to develop later on. When you feel yourself getting stressed out, shrug your shoulders a few times and shake out your arms and legs. This will help to loosen your muscles. Some people find that it helps them to relax if they imagine a peaceful place, such as a desert island or a tranquil lake. Imagine yourself being there and the scenery around you. Diverting your mind to a calming environment will help to distract you from the stress and relax your body.

You can also help relieve tension by getting some 'me time'. Spend some time doing whatever you enjoy - for example, having a warm bath, reading your favourite book or doing some gardening.