Updated: Dec 15, 2022
Ways to understand and manage stress Stress has been with us since man was on earth. Before the evolution of man in modern society, stress protected us from natural dangers such as avoiding the attack of a carnivorous predator and our overall survival in the dangers of life. Today, however, stress is pervasive in dangers that are not immediate or even visible to humans, so we could say that stress, most of the time, is general and indeterminate in contrast to the fear that is for something specific. For example, uncertainty about the future, lack of control over external events, lack of self-confidence about life's challenges, and the unfamiliar environment in which we may find ourselves all contribute to the activation of anxious phobic reactions. These anxiety reactions are manifested in the form of changes in heart rate, inability to concentrate, decreased memory capacity, dizziness, skin rashes, chills, myoclonus, murmurs, and many other symptoms that are psychological as well as physical.
These anxiety reactions are manifested in the form of changes in heart rate, inability to concentrate, decreased memory capacity, dizziness, skin rashes, chills, myoclonus, murmurs, and many other symptoms that are psychological as well as physical. 1) Stress interferes a lot in my life; 2) How has stress become so great in my life? 3) What exactly is my stress? If the answer to the first question is yes, then the following techniques will prove helpful.
How do we manage stress so that it does not control our lives, our dreams, and our values?
1) In order for stress not to control our lives completely, we need to learn and try not to control it ourselves. In other words, whatever happens within us, such as emotions, thoughts, or bodily senses, can be dealt with with an attitude of kindness, acceptance, and love. We cannot have complete control over our inner experiences, so the more we try to control or eliminate our inner configurations, the more we come into conflict and avoid ourselves. What we resist resists, so the solution is to harmonize with our emotions, and take a step back to experience them as they are.
2) Furthermore, when we recognize these unpleasant experiences, we can look down on ourselves, and wonder how we could expend our energy other than trying to drive away our stress. For example, we may wonder what our values, our desires are, or how we could act now to move in the direction of our personal needs. By adopting this attitude we see our problems through the prism of perspective, broadening our horizons, and coming closer to our true selves and our values. This attitude of life is transformed in practice as a behavior that involves looking at oneself from a prominent position beyond the small problems of everyday life.By acting through this attitude of life we can avoid giving in and getting involved in a barrage of stressful reactions. For example, when we systematically worry about future hypothetical predictions by brainstorming potentially harmful scenarios with the usual use of the hypothetical 'if', we can instead take a step back and see how we could do otherwise to meet our need for calm, the our values for a life with meaning, human bonding, and serenity.
3) Another technique to reduce our stress is within us, in the way we breathe. That is, performing diaphragmatic breaths with an attitude of acceptance and focus on the here and now helps us reduce our stress, and not get carried away by unproven evidence and future negative predictions. The process is simple, and can be used by all of us when we need to calm down. For a start we can find a place that is comfortable, without distractions. Then we let our eyes close, and place one hand on the abdomen and the other on the chest. The goal is for the breath to enter as deep as possible into the lower abdomen, below the thoracic septum. At the same time, breathing needs to be slow and systematic. The procedure is as follows: 1) Take a deep, slow breath counting to five, 2) hold the breath for four seconds, and finally 3) exhale slowly counting to six. When we perform this process in five cycles, neurochemicals are produced in the brain, such as serotonin, which contribute to euphoria and calm.
4) Finally, we can make two columns, one column will consist of stressful situations, and a second column in which we will deal with stress with more effective methods. For example, in one column we can write: "I try to avoid and control stressful situations" with a counter-sentence in the second column which will be more logical, with affection and love for ourselves. A different self-care statement would be saying to ourselves: I can bear my stress so that it does not deter me from the experiences that will develop me as a person, that way it will no longer control me. This way we will live our lives to the fullest, without constantly trying to control or avoid stress. Given this, we will be able to experience all of our emotions, and accept the emotional pain that is inevitable in life. Surprisingly, this process will reduce our stress, and will create the necessary space for us to use our energy in other activities, in addition to our fight with stress and ourselves.
The above techniques of relaxation and stress management are effective, but in case the stress persists and strongly interferes with our daily functioning, we can turn to a mental health specialist. Text composition: Stamatelos Ioannis, Psychologist (MSc) at the Model Society for Mental Health and Social Welfare (P.EPSYKKA)
John P. Forsyth, & Georg H. Eifert. (2018). Anxiety Happens : 52 Ways to Find Peace of Mind. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.