Ever heard the phrase, “when it rains, it pours?” We’ve all been in situations where life seems to pile on the challenges until we feel completely overwhelmed. According to a recent American Psychological Association article, more than half of us Americans out there have moderate to high stress levels. This degree of stress not only makes the lives we live more difficult, but also negatively affects the relationships we have with the people around us.
Whereas all of us dream of a stress-free life, the reality is we need a certain amount of stress in our lives to function effectively. Stress ultimately motivates us into action, it allows the creative juices to flow, and from a survival standpoint actually prevents us from making some stupid and possibly fatal decisions. We can’t get rid of it, so how do we live with it?
The first step to stress management is figuring out how you react to it. When faced with a heavy load, many of us essentially render ourselves immobile. A pile of paperwork sits on your desk at work, all with deadlines, and yet you find yourself unable to even know where to begin. You tend to become more reserved, withdrawn and maybe even depressed. If this sounds familiar, try practicing relaxation techniques on the more stimulating side. This may include cycling, running, yoga or simply walking around your office for a few minutes.
Some stress takes on a more excited and active tendency. Finals week has arrived and with it brings a slew of tests that need studying. Suddenly you feel more irritable, you snap at your mom on the phone and become very fidgety. If you fall into this category, more calming and quiet relaxation techniques may help you best. Try taking some deep breaths, practice meditation, or schedule a relaxation massage.