Psychological stress can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to manage, but there are ways you can learn to deal with your feelings. If you suffer from stress, it’s important that you know the effects of such a state on your body and mind so that you’re better prepared for what comes next.
The “what are the five stress management techniques?” is a question that has been asked for years. The answer to this question has changed over time, but there are five main techniques that people use to manage their stress effectively.
This essay series is now available as a professionally designed, distraction-free paperback or ebook that you can read at your leisure while offline.
Note from the editor: This piece was first published on August 30, 2012. It’s been modified since then.
Our brains have a propensity to paint things in a warm, rosy glow whenever we look back on the past — our recollections typically concentrate on the positive bits and gloss over the unpleasant. As a result, when individuals who have been out of college for a few years reminisce about their time there, all they usually recall are the parties, the girls, the spring vacations, and so on.
The tension, though, is something they overlook.
The stress of working and studying at the same time, the stress of stretching a meager budget each month, the stress of breaking up with someone you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with, the stress of fighting with a roommate who was once your best friend but is now your sworn enemy, and, of course, the stress of cramming a 20-page research paper and struggling to remember chemistry formulas on final exams.
Make no mistake: a young man’s life is frequently magnificent and free, yet there will be moments when you feel completely overwhelmed. Many grownups mock at a young man’s worry — “You think you’re busy now?” they say. Just wait till you’ve got a wife, three children, and a full-time job!” In some ways, these guys are correct – your overall stress level will rise as you get older and take on more responsibilities, and you’ll undoubtedly look back on college and wonder, “What the hell was I so concerned about?” Isn’t it all relative, though? Young man’s stress is both unique (I wouldn’t trade the pressure of a real job for being tested on my ability to regurgitate information again) and novel – you haven’t yet accumulated the life experiences that will help you see that what appears to be the end of the world now is just another bump in the road.
All of this is to imply that the stress you will face after you leave home is real, and understanding how to manage it is one of the most crucial skills a young man can acquire. Because stress is expected to rise as you get older, learning to handle it now can help you live happily and confidently not only into your 20s, but for the rest of your life.
With that in mind, we’re going to walk you through a full primer today to help you understand what stress is, how it affects your body and mind, and how you may manage it effortlessly and efficiently.
What is the definition of stress?
Stress is your body’s response to situations in which it believes it need extra power, stamina, or attention to live and prosper. A stress reaction might be triggered by any perceived danger to your well-being. This response causes your nervous system to release the hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol into your bloodstream, causing your heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and breathing to increase, your blood vessels to dilate to increase blood flow to your muscles, your pupils to dilate to improve vision, and your liver to release stored glucose for your body to use as energy. This so-called “fight or flight” reaction prepared your body to cope with danger in the past.
As a result, whereas many people think of stress as solely negative, it may really be both good and harmful. When confronted with an urgent obstacle — a job interview, a huge presentation, or a challenging exam — the stress reaction keeps you alert and may help you perform better and manage pressure. It also adds to life’s thrill; uneasy butterflies before asking a lady out or riding a roller coaster are both stress. It may seem like living a stress-free existence would be wonderful, but after a time, a state of constant peace would become flat, bland, and monotonous (at least for those of us who haven’t attained absolute Zen!).
Only two key elements for stress to become a problem:
The first is a case of stress overload. The level of stress you experience in response to a set of circumstances is directly related to how confident you are in your abilities and resources (including time) to deal with them. This sense of competence might stem from either reality or one’s own optimistic or pessimistic self-evaluation. A man who enjoys and is talented at public speaking will feel much less stressed before giving a presentation than a man who is shy and speaks awkwardly; a man who completes an assignment over the course of a week will feel much less stressed than a man who waits until the night before to work on it; a man who is much less confident in dating women and what he has to offer them will be much more devastated when a girl dumps him than a man who has little doubt he’ll get Instead of energizing us for action, stress that appears too enormous to manage may be crushing, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and powerless to accomplish anything.
2. When the collection of conditions that causes stress becomes persistent, stress becomes a problem. The stress response was created to assist humans cope with urgent dangers and difficulties; following the adrenaline surge, our nervous systems went into stand-by mode, ready for the next challenge. Tiger with a saber-toothed snout! Toss the spear! Tiger is no longer alive! Whoo, it’s time to unwind. I’m going to go back to drawing cave paintings. However, in today’s world, our worries might be endless. We can’t spear our obnoxious roommate or coworker, no matter how badly we want to. Instead, we are forced to put up with him on a daily basis. Day after day, our bodies release low amounts of stress chemicals as a result of chronic stress. Unfortunately, a constant dosage of something that should be uncommon and brief may leave us physically and emotionally ill.
The Negative Consequences of Excessive Stress
Too much stress may cause anything from diarrhea and constipation to tension headaches and hair loss in your body and mind. More negative impacts of stress are described below:
1. An increase in weight. You will most likely have a lower appetite while your stress reaction is at its peak. However, as the tension subsides, the cortisol released into your circulation may encourage you to consume sugary, carbohydrate-rich meals. This made sense in prehistoric times: the fight or flight reaction normally came before a bout of physical activity (grab that mammoth! ), and after the tension was gone, there was time to restore your body. Gobbling down doughnuts as you decline from your stress high will only result in a primordial-sized stomach these days, when you may feel the stress reaction while staying shackled to your workstation.
2. Erectile dysfunction and a decrease in libido. Cortisol also reduces testosterone production, which may lead to a decline in libido and erectile problems in men. If you want to have a healthy sex drive as an adult, you must first deal with your stress.
3. Hypertension (high blood pressure). Cortisol, along with the other stress hormones, causes our hearts to beat faster and our blood vessels to constrict in order to prepare our bodies for fight or flight. Short-term stress is OK, but long-term stress may develop to hypertension and all the issues that comes with it.
Insomnia is number four. Even after the peak of a stressful situation has gone, cortisol may still be coursing through your veins, leaving you too energized to sleep. This difficulty to sleep is typically exacerbated by other characteristics that are common during stressful periods, such as coffee use and racing, concerned thoughts.
5. Excessive emotionality. When your willpower is drained and you’re anxious, you become more emotional. Although being a blubbering mess at the drop of a hat is a frequent reaction of over-stressed persons, hyper-emotionality does not always imply that you will become a blubbering mess at the drop of a hat. Rather, it suggests that all of your emotions are in overdrive, including grief, rage, and even happiness. When the reasonable half of your brain loses control, you’re more prone to irrational outbursts.
6. Isolation from others. When we are stressed, we often go to our “bunker” and separate ourselves from others. While it’s OK to have some alone time when you’re anxious, as we’ll explore later below, too much solitude may actually add to your anxiety.
7. Poor memory and focus. While little stress might help us think more quickly, prolonged stress saps our willpower and makes us slackers. Individuals who are stressed for an extended length of time have weaker focus, memory, and decision-making abilities, according to studies.
Fatigue is number eight. According to the American Psychological Association, 25% of men experience physical and mental exhaustion on a weekly basis. One of the most significant factors to that exhausted state is stress. Our bodies are drained and we feel sluggish and exhausted as a result of physical strain and mental concern, as well as a decrease in testosterone.
9. Immune system deficiency. Although you may have heard that all stress is detrimental for your immune system, new research shows that brief bursts of stress may really help it. Stress hormones mobilize immune cells to possible “battlefields” in the body, such as tissues, organs, and mucous membranes that are especially vulnerable to infection, when your mind detects an impending crisis. In the past, the fight-or-flight response was activated in circumstances like hunting or warfare when physical wounds were a possibility, and these immunity “soldiers” were ready to fight infection and heal these wounds as soon as they appeared. But, here again, the stress of contemporary life has hijacked a reaction that was healthy a thousand years ago. The repeated training of your immune forces in anticipation of a non-existent emergency wears them out and makes them prone to infections and inflammation.
Depression is number ten. Chronic stress lowers serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, which help control hunger, energy, and sleep, as well as regulating our emotions and contributing to our feeling of well-being. A decrease in these neurotransmitters may induce sadness directly, but it can also cause depression indirectly by generating a cycle of negative behavior. You’re having difficulties sleeping, so you don’t feel like exercising in the morning, which makes you more worried, so you eat more, which makes you feel sluggish, which makes you not want to socialize… as the circle spirals downward, maybe into sadness
11. Increased alcohol, tobacco, and drug usage. When men are stressed, they usually try to find a way to get away from it. Alcohol, smoking, and narcotics are often used as escapes. While many a well-balanced guy may not suffer any negative consequences from a nightcap to help him unwind after a long day, it becomes an issue when one glass develops into four. Heavy drinking or drug usage may cause a slew of relationship and health issues, and it does nothing to address the source of stress – in fact, it may compound it.
How to Effectively Manage Stress
You could be anxious about being stressed after reading about all those stress-related ailments! But don’t worry: most stress is relatively manageable if you commit to executing the tiny, everyday maintenance activities that will prevent your tension from becoming overwhelming.
Negative stress is caused by two elements, as we discussed before in the “What is Stress?” section: 1) Not believing that our abilities, talents, and resources (including time) are sufficient to deal with a danger or challenge, and 2) Long-term stressors that endure days, weeks, or even years.
As a result, when it comes to stress management, you need to adopt a two-pronged strategy that involves eliminating these issues in the first place and learning how to reduce them when prevention isn’t feasible.
1. Work on increasing your resilience. A large element of coping with stress has little to do with the stressor itself, but rather how you react with it. A circumstance that one guy may confidently traverse might lead another man to entirely disintegrate. As a result, establishing the attribute of resilience is the basic element in your capacity to handle stress. Being resilient refers to how you behave and respond in the world – your capacity to bounce back swiftly from setbacks and tribulations, as well as confront the world with bravery and confidence. All of the stress-relieving techniques listed here are equivalent to changing the deck chairs on the Titanic if you don’t have a resilient mindset and approach to life.
It’s impossible to sum up the process of acquiring resilience in a few phrases. Fortunately, we produced a detailed, seven-part series on the issue a few years ago. It contains both a conceptual framework for understanding the nature of resilience and practical approaches for cultivating the attribute. It is, without a doubt, a must-read for every guy of any age. The series is available here, and we’ve also compiled the pieces into an ebook with worksheets. The articles on Avoiding Learned Helplessness and Changing Your Explanatory Style, Taking Control of Your Life, and How to Quit Catastrophizing will be most useful and helpful when it comes to coping with stress.
2. Get some exercise. Make exercise a regular habit if you just implement one stress-relieving approach from this list. Exercise has been discovered to be equally as helpful as antidepressants in treating severe depression and to boost the amounts of endocannabinoid molecules in our blood, the same endocannabinoids that are responsible for the soothing impact of marijuana use.
Exercise not only relieves stress, but it may also help prevent it; preliminary research suggests that the small amount of physical and mental stress you experience while exercising acts as an inoculation against future high-stress events, creating brain cells that are better able to deal with anxiety, or a more stress-resistant brain. Last week, we shared some advice on how to get started with a regular fitness regimen.
Do your workout outdoors to make it twice as effective, for the reasons we’ll describe later.
3. Go for a walk in the woods. The body and mind both benefit from time spent in nature. Researchers in Japan discovered that individuals who took a 20-minute walk in the forest had “lower cortisol concentrations, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, more parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity” than those who walked in the city. What does this mean in layman’s terms? A walk in the woods relaxes you. Time spent in nature enhanced emotions of energy and lowered feelings of anger, anxiety, and sadness in a follow-up research.
So, instead of vegging out on the sofa every Saturday watching football, consider scheduling frequent excursions in the woods. Your inner-Thoreau will appreciate it.
4. Take some time to meditate. Simple mindfulness meditation has been demonstrated in several studies to decrease and even remove many of the harmful physiological and psychological effects of chronic stress. Your blood pressure will stabilize, your respiration and heart rate will decrease, and your adrenal glands will generate less cortisol while you meditate. Meditation study participants often report fewer feelings of anxiety, worry, and tension. Furthermore, regular meditation changes the way your brain works and makes you more robust to stress.
Have you ever meditated? To get started, just read our fast and easy how-to guide. The best part is that you don’t even need to meditate for lengthy periods of time to get the advantages. Just 20 minutes a day will enough, and you’ll see results in as little as a few weeks.
5. Make a list of the things that are bothering you. When we have a lot of things on our minds and a lengthy list of things to do, all of these stresses might come together in a large cloud of agitation and restlessness. We’re feeling overwhelmed, but the cloud makes it difficult to pinpoint why. Take some time when this occurs to write a list of everything you’re afraid about. It will assist your cranium relax if you dump them from your brain into paper. When the responsibility of selecting when to launch D-Day became crushingly great, Dwight D. Eisenhower did just this to alleviate his tension.
Now, look at each item on your concern list and build an action/to-do list. Make a list of tiny, precise, and urgent activities you can do to relieve each stressor.
6. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation and stress create a Catch-22 situation. Our bodies and brains need sleep in order to manage and deal with stress, yet stress often prevents us from obtaining the rest we require! While we could write a whole page on how to enhance your sleep, here are a few brief tips for getting the greatest night’s sleep possible, especially if you’re stressed:
- To quiet and relax your mind and body, meditate for twenty minutes before going to bed.
- Before going to bed, write down all of your problems so you don’t have to worry about them while attempting to sleep. This is a good stress-reduction technique at any time, but it’s especially helpful shortly before bedtime.
- Before going to bed, turn off the computer and television. The light from electronic displays lowers the body’s natural creation of melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep.
- Consider taking a melatonin pill immediately before bed to help you sleep better. It might assist you in unwinding and falling asleep more quickly (and based on my experience, have crazy dreams).
- Make sure your space is comfortable and cool. According to studies, the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68 degrees (brrr!). If you don’t want to sleep with the A/C on low all night, invest in a fan, wear light (or no) sleepwear, and avoid thick blankets and comforters.
- Make a white noise machine. White noise is a sound that shuts out distracting noises while also providing a soothing sound that will help you fall asleep. This is especially beneficial if you have night owl roommates who remain up late and generate noise after you’ve gone to bed, or if you live in a loud metropolis. A desktop fan is an excellent source of white noise. You may also download white noise soundtracks to listen to as you sleep. I utilized this free white noise generator for my power naps in law school, and since we’re on the subject…
6. Go for a sleep. The simple sleep is a strong item that provides a slew of incredible advantages, including improved alertness, improved learning and working memory, and enhanced creativity. It’s also a great stress reliever: sleeping produces growth hormones and serotonin, which helps to regulate cortisol, calm anxiety, and leave you feeling refreshed.
8. Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine stimulates the creation of cortisol and adrenaline in your body, which may make you feel better in the short term but will make you feel more edgy and stressed in the long run. Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid it after 2 p.m. to guarantee a healthy night’s sleep.
9. Stick to a schedule. The more powerless you feel, the more anxious you will get. While we can’t control everything that occurs to us during the day, we can considerably lessen our anxiety by taking control of the things we can. Establishing and keeping to patterns, such as exercise routines, morning and evening routines, and work habits, is one way to feel more in control of your life. Make everything you do repeatedly into a routine. Your mind will feel more peaceful and secure if it knows what to anticipate next.
10. Make a weekly schedule. Because I didn’t manage my time properly in college, I generated a lot of stress for myself. I’d forget about deadlines, prepare papers at the last minute, and plan appointments that interfered with other commitments. Things really improved once I began preparing my week. Having a weekly schedule can prevent you from forgetting crucial details or overcommitting yourself, like I did. Furthermore, having a plan gives you a sense of control, which, as we just stated, reduces stress.
11. Participate in social media. As I previously said, being a hermit is a frequent reaction to stress (particularly among males). That’s how I am. I sometimes need alone in order to sift through my belongings. While it’s normal and beneficial to have some alone time when you’re stressed, if you’re still feeling frazzled after some time alone, invite a friend or two to hang out with you. Social engagement has been shown in studies to help people cope with stress. When we’re with individuals who care about us, our bodies produce anti-stress, feel-good chemicals like oxytocin. Plus, although you should try to be self-sufficient as much as possible, phoning up mom and dad when you’ve reached the end of your rope isn’t a bad idea.
12. Take it one step at a time. I read a book on writing by Anne Lamont a few years ago that had some advice that I believe is relevant to efficiently managing stress. Bird by Bird is an excerpt from the novel Bird by Bird:
“Thirty years ago, my elder brother, who was 10 years old at the time, was attempting to complete a three-month report on birds. It was due the next day. We were in our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was close to tears at the kitchen table, surrounded by binder paper, pencils, and unopened bird books, transfixed by the enormity of the work before of him. My father then sat next to him, placed his arm over my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, friend,’ says the narrator. ‘Just take it one bird at a time.’
Take things “one bird at a time” when you’re feeling overwhelmed and upset by the things that are building up. Break things down into its component components and accomplish one item at a time until you’re finished, rather than concentrating on the magnitude of all you have to do. Simply focus on placing one foot in front of the other.
13. It will be completed and completed. When I’m stressed to the point that it seems like the world is ending, I remind myself, “It will be done and be over with.” Maybe you’ll have to stay up all night to complete it, and maybe the result won’t be as wonderful as you hoped, but whatever happens, that deadline or planned meeting will pass, you’ll face the penalties, and life will continue on. You may look at the clock and say, “OK, this will be settled one way or another at 3:00 pm tomorrow.” For some reason, thinking like way helps me relax and get started on whatever I’m working on.
14. Begin to say “NO.” Overcommitting myself has been a major cause of stress in my life. I’d say “yes” to almost everything because 1) I’m a people-pleaser, and 2) I didn’t want to lose out on any opportunities that may help me achieve my objectives. I’ve had to learn to say “no” after experiencing the burden of managing an overbooked schedule one too many times. Don’t make the same mistake as me. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and learn to say “no” early in life.
Get Help If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed after trying all you can to manage your stress on your own, go to a school counselor or therapist right away. Reaching out for assistance, particularly for emotional or psychological issues, is difficult for males. It necessitates us talking about our feelings and being vulnerable. Furthermore, people often see seeking assistance as a sign of weakness.
Don’t allow the fear of seeming “unmanly” prevent you from receiving the treatment you need if you’re feeling like you’re about to go over the deep end due to stress. Men are far more prone than women to misuse alcohol, turn to violence, or attempt suicide when they are depressed or stressed. A qualified counselor or therapist can help you find stress-relieving methods that don’t entail injuring yourself or others.
Visit the student help center if you’re a college student. They should have qualified counselors available to chat to anonymously and for no cost.
If you’re not in college yet can’t afford a therapist, Everyday Health recommends the following options:
- Centers for mental health in the community Most states and towns have programs that provide discounted mental health treatments from certified therapists. Simply Google the name of your city + “community mental health center” to discover a community health center near you.
- Mental health groups that are not for profit. National Alliance of Mental Illness and Mental Health America, both non-profit organizations, have branches around the nation that provide low-cost individual and group counseling. Find a chapter near you by visiting their separate websites.
- Departments of psychology and therapy at colleges. Check with your local college to see if they provide public mental health treatments at a reduced rate. Clinics are staffed by graduate students who work with patients under the supervision of academic members in several psychology and therapy departments.
- Therapy in a group setting. Group therapy is frequently far less expensive than one-on-one counseling. Find group therapy sessions for stress and anxiety difficulties near you by doing a Google search.
Listen to our podcast on how to stress-proof your mind and body:
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The “how to manage stress essay” is a guide that teaches how to effectively deal with stress. It gives tips on how to practice mindfulness, sleep, and exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you manage stress effectively?
A: For me, I take time to do things that bring joy and satisfaction like cleaning the house or running.
What are 5 ways to manage stress?
A: There are many ways to manage stress. These include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, exercising and other activities that can help you unwind.
What are the 7 steps in managing stress?
A: This is a difficult question, Im sorry.
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