Angie Houtz
Memorial Scholarship Fund

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Nine Strategies to Deal with Stress

Stress maintained over time and not properly managed can lead to a weakening of our cognition and physical health. What can we do to handle it?

Unfortunately, stress is one of the most recurrent problems in our society today, one of the most harmful effects on us. Stress maintained over time and not properly managed can lead to a weakening of our cognition and physical health. What can we do to manage stress?

What is stress?

It is a reaction of anxiety (of activation of the organism) due to an imbalance between the demands that we face and the subjective perception of having the skills, capacity or time to perform them.

Long-term anxiety and stress result in the release of cortisol, a hormone that if left for a long time in our bloodstream suppresses the immune system, making us more prone to infections and diseases. It also makes the development of depression and all kinds of anxiety disorders more likely. That is why it is essential to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Your health will thank you.

How to fight stress?

Stress management has to do with changing the stressful situation when possible, changing the way you react to it when it is not, taking care of ourselves and giving us time to rest and relax. Here we offer you a series of strategies to get rid of stress.

  1. Write a stress journal: A journal can be a fantastic tool for you to be more aware of what stresses you, how you feel and how you react to that stress. Every time you feel stressed, point out: the possible cause, how you felt (physically and emotionally), how you acted in response to stress and what you did to feel better.
  2. Exercise: Physical exercise relieves stress symptoms. The release of endorphins that produces physical activity improves your mood and can also serve as a distraction from the daily routine. You do not need to train like an athlete or go to the gym. The idea is to exercise our body for 30 minutes every day, but if you do not have the habit, you can start with 10 minutes. Find the type of physical activity that you like most; it is crucial that you enjoy it and that it is not a punishment. It can be dancing, walking, running, skating, swimming, doing yoga, pilates, tai-chi, aerobics … There is a lot to choose from. While doing the exercise, concentrate on your body and forget about daily worries.
  3. Socialize: Being with your loved ones, communicating and having a good time with them produces the release of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces the fight or flight reactions, and allows you to minimize levels of anxiety. Also, maintaining a healthy support network will help us cope with our problems, recover from the potholes. Stay in regular contact with your friends and family. Tell them how you feel, what worries you and what makes you happy.
  4. Change the situation: Try to change the position to make it less stressful. If someone causes stress or power, tell them. Explain in an assertive, educated and respectful way how you feel and what bothers you. Organize your time better Many times the stress is due to procrastination (continually postpone what we have to do) and poor time management.
  5. Avoid unnecessary stress: Many times we can save some stressors from our lives. Know your limits and learn to say no. Sometimes we want to cover too much, and that can take our toll. Be realistic and, if you think it will not give you time, do not offer to help your friend or tell him you can not stay that day. If someone stresses you too much, limit your time with that person.
  6. Adapt to the stressor: Change your expectations and your way of reacting to the stressor. Change your perspective on the stressful situation, look at things from a more positive angle. Will it be important in the long term? Is it worth it to be overwhelmed by this? If the answer is no, focus your energy on more important things. Adjust your standards and be more realistic about your goals.
  7. Accept the things you can not change: If you can not improve the situation, just accept it. Do not try to control the uncontrollable, focus on what you can control. Look at challenges as a way to grow and learn. Learn from your mistakes and learn to forgive.
  8. Find time for fun and relaxation: Dedicate a moment of the day to yourself, to do something that you find pleasurable can be very effective against stress. Add to your schedule a time for fun. It can be watching a television program, reading, playing with your pet … anything that brings you well-being.
  9. Adopt a healthy lifestyle: A proper lifestyle can help you manage stress. Sleep the necessary hours (7 or 8 hours), eat healthy, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Reduces caffeine, as it can aggravate anxiety problems by increasing the activation of the body.