How do you handle stress and pressure? Whether it’s work, kids, health or just the circumstances of living, stress can infiltrate our lives. Although stress is normal and to be expected, problems can arise if we have too much of it. In this article, we will discuss all the aspects of stress, and answer, “How do you handle stress and pressure?”
What are five emotional signs of stress?
When determining whether or not you have a healthy or unhealthy level of stress, you should monitor your symptoms. Unhealthy levels of stress can manifest in the following five ways:
- Depression. Keep an eye on how you’re feeling. Depression usually presents itself as persistent feelings of sadness or worthlessness. Other symptoms include: absence of hope, disinterest in usual activities and insomnia. In severe cases, suicidal thoughts may be present. If you are feeling suicidal, please contact the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Anxiety. Stress can also cause anxiety. Some anxiety symptoms are: nervousness, restless and rapid heart rate. Some people experience an impending sense of doom and overwhelming fear. Be on the lookout for these symptoms if you feel overwhelmed by stress.
- Sleeping changes. Some people who experience large doses of stress may notice sleep pattern changes. You may begin sleeping too little or too much. Whatever the case, an overload of stress may be to blame.
- Problems with concentration. If you are overstressed, you may experience difficulty in concentration. Take note if you find yourself struggling to complete tasks or think clearly. It could be a sign of a bigger problem.
- Anger and irritability. When our bodies are subject to constant amounts of stress, it can be too much to bear. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s easy to lash out in anger or display a constant sense of irritability. Ask your family members or friends if they’ve noticed changes in your anger levels.
Self-check ins are crucial to monitoring emotional signs of stress. You may find it beneficial to ask friends and family if they notice changes in you as well. Keeping track of negative emotions can help with early detection of stress overload.
What can stress do to your body?
Not only can stress affect you emotionally, it can affect you physically as well. Physical manifestations of stress are a huge sign that you’re overloaded. According to Mayo Clinic, stress can affect us physically in six ways:
- Headache. A headache occurs when there’s pain in any region of the cranium. When someone is under stress, the brain releases chemicals to fight this stress. This can cause blood vessel changes in the brain and can cause headaches.
- Muscle tension and pain. When exposed to stress, our bodies have a physical response. This response is often to “tense up.” Tension in muscles leads to aches, pains and cramps.
- Chest pain. Another bodily symptom caused by stress is chest pain. When in a heightened state of stress, our bodies tense and heartrates may increase. This combination can cause unusual tightness in the chest, or pain. Although likely due to stress, one should always seek medical attention when experiencing chest pain.
- Fatigue. Because of the chemicals released during a stress response, stress may cause fatigue. Stress chemicals are our “fight or flight” chemicals. These chemicals are meant to be used only in acutely stressful situations. When we are exposed to prolonged stress, our bodies become exhausted and desire rest.
- Sex drive changes. Stress can lead to decreased libido due do over exhaustion. Be on the lookout for this in your life, as it may be a sign of too much stress.
- Upset stomach. Over stress may cause an upset stomach, similar to that experienced with anxiety. This is because the gut is full of nerves and very sensitive, just like the brain. Science continues to show that the brain and gut are connected, so be on the lookout for an upset stomach.
What are the three causes of stress?
While there are many causes of stress, there are three major areas of causality. It’s important to not that you may have other stressors, not included on this list. Learning Stress is a subjective experience. Just know that learning where stress comes from will help you learn how to handle stress.
- Work stress. One quarter of Americans admit that work stress is the biggest source of stress in their lives. This category can include things like: Working long hours or in dangerous conditions, poor management or being at risk of termination. Carrying too much responsibility or experiencing discrimination may also be factors. No matter what the cause is, work stress is real and troubling.
- Life Stress. Life stress includes changes in life. Even good changes can cause stress. Some examples of life stressors are: getting married or a divorce, moving to a new house, changing jobs or school, chronic illness and trauma.
- Stress from the inside. Sometimes it’s not changes in our life or our work, but how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. When we view the world in a negative light it can cause overwhelming feelings of stress. Pessimism is a fertile breeding ground for adding stress in your life.
There are many more causes to stress than just the above three. Everyone’s stress is different and individual to them. Ponder deeply about your life to determine what is causing your stress. What things in your life overwhelm you? It’s also important to evaluate who you are as a person. Sometimes our own personalities create stress where it doesn’t necessarily need to occur.
Lastly, remember that even good stress is stress. Getting married or a promotion is a good thing, but can still be stressful. New obligations and responsibilities cause disturbances in our behaviors. Understanding where your stress comes from can help you learn to control it.
How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure in difficult Situations?
No matter what type of lifestyle you lead, there will always be instances where you’re put in stressful situations. Whether it’s at work, a health crisis or an emergency, it’s important to know how to handle stress. When you know how to handle stress, you can handle anything. Here are some tips for how to handle stress in difficult situations:
- Identify your stressors. As discussed in the previous section, knowing what causes you stress is key in learning how to handle stress. After you know what’s causing it you can either try to remove the stressor, or avoid it. If you can’t remove or avoid the stressor, learning to adapt is key. Try looking for the optimistic parts of your stressor, and practice positivity.
- Get moving. Exercise is a scientifically-proven way to improve your mood. Although you probably won’t feel like exercising, it’s a crucial part of stress management. It releases endorphins, distracts you from your problems and gives you a sense of empowerment. Exercising for even thirty minutes a day can completely change your stress management routine.
- Connect with friends, family or a therapist. Human connection is a natural stress reliever. Find someone you trust in your life to discuss your problems with. Know that even though they may not be able to fix it, just having someone to listen can give you a sense of comradery and manage stress levels. There are even online therapists you can talk to, making therapy private and convenient.
- Make time for you. Make time for the things that you enjoy. Participate in hobbies and recreational activities that make you feel good. When you do this, your serotonin levels increase and you will automatically feel happier.
How do you handle stress and pressure in the moment?
While all the above tips are helpful for long-term stress management. Sometimes you need help in the moment you are stressed. One of the most helpful things you can do is use a breathing technique called box-breathing. Box breathing is an evidence-based practice that will allow you to calm your autonomic nervous system immediately. Here’s how to do it:
- Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed.
- Exhale all the air in your lungs.
- Inhale to the count of four, making sure to count slowly.
- Hold your breath in your lungs for four counts.
- Exhale for four counts.
- Hold your breath for four counts.
- Repeat, starting with inhalation.
This is a proven technique that will allow you to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, providing an almost instant sense of calm. Do this whenever you find yourself in a stressful situation and need relief. Another technique you can try is the talk down technique.
Talk yourself down to illicit calm. Give yourself a few minutes to talk to yourself in a logical, rational tone. Remind yourself that you’ve handled difficult things before and that you can handle them now. You may find it helpful to make a list of what’s stressing you out.
Once you make a list, go down that list and prioritize. What is the most important thing for you to get done? How can you fix this stressor and make is less of a problem? Number them, remind yourself that you’ve got this and then get to work. Almost anything can be accomplished if you make a well-thought-out list.
How do you handle stress and pressure if none of this works?
So, how do you handle stress and pressure if none of this works? If you’ve tried everything in this list and more and are still struggling, never discount professional help. Therapy is often the most effective and quickest way to relieve emotional and behavior problems. In fact, evidence proves it. Those who see a therapist are much more likely to overcome their emotional and behavioral issues.
Some people are afraid to see a therapist due to the amount of stigma surrounding it. You may even think that no one else sees a therapist, but that’s not true. According to a study from 2004, nearly 60 million people sought therapy within a two-year span. And that is all the way back in 2004. With mental health awareness spreading into millions of homes, the number has surely increased. And of those, 80% found it helpful.
There’s no shame in seeing a therapist. They are trained medical professionals who can help you manage stress. Dealing with emotional problems is just as valid as dealing with physical problems.
What if I have barriers keeping me from going to a therapist?
Many people feel there are too many barriers keeping them from going to a therapist. You may feel you don’t have time, or don’t want to leave the house. The good news is that, with the use of technology, this problem is solved. You can see a therapist without even leaving your house.
Using onlinetherapy.com, you can work with a therapist from the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is go online using this link to sign up, it’s free. After you sign up, you will have access to a therapist who will help you every step of the way. After picking a subscription plan, you’ll be matched with a therapist. You will partner with a therapist that can meet all your needs, and who is available when you are available. With weekly meetings, texts, journaling and activities, you’ll be feeling better in no time. Signing up may be the first step of your new life.
Stress is real, and difficult to manage. Try using the techniques above to get some relief from your stressors. But remember, nothing can replace a good therapist. A therapist goes to school for years to learn how to teach people just like you to deal with stress and other problems. Don’t be afraid to reach out, all they do is help people each day. And it’s completely confidential.
Don’t let stress control your life. You deserve to lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.