Stress Management

Stress Management

Stress – An automatic physical, mental and emotional response to a difficult event which is a common part of everyone’s life. If used positively, stress can lead to growth, but negatively, long-term stress can lessen quality of life.

The brain is equipped with an ‘alarm system’ of protection and whenever the brain perceives a threat, it triggers a burst of chemicals to initiate a flight-fight response. This response increases the heart rate and blood pressure as it prepares the body for the threat. Once the threat disappears, the body returns to a normal, relaxed state. However, the current complication of modern life causes the alarm systems to be always in preparatory mode, leading to a heightened state of body with increased stress. Alternatively, a traumatic event may lead to lasting mental or physical stress which if unresolved may lead to complications in health.

Stress management is a means to provide tools to balance the alarm systems of the body and helps the body and mind to adapt (resilience). Chronic stress may lead to severe health problems since your body might always be on high alert. It is always advisable to inculcate practices of stress management to prevent stress from reaching an alarming stage.

Stress management approaches include:

  • Learning skills problem-solving skills to focus on important tasks first and managing time.
  • Improving the ability to cope with difficult events that happen in life.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise and prayer.
  • Improving personal relationships helps in the management of stress as there are people around you to share and relieve your burdens mentally.

Certain lifestyle changes can be done to manage stress:


Physical activity helps improve sleep that means better stress management. It is known that the more people exercise, the more they tend to get sleep better (better brain and body regeneration). Exercise also uplifts the mood, and this may be because it releases a number of hormones that also help block pain. Exercise also provides a feel-good, positive factor in people and they tend to feel less anxious. A good body is accompanied by a good mind. Following exercises also helps in stress relief –

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Cycling
  • Aerobics

If these exercises are not doable, try these simple tips to move more:

  • Walk instead of driving to the store, if nearby.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park as far as you can from the door.
  • Hand-wash the car.
    Clean the house.
  • Walk during the lunch break.


Healthy diet goes a long way in managing stress. It only helps in physical fitness but also lessens the pressure on the immune system and improves the mood. Junk food seems more appealing under stress and the high levels of added sugar and fat has a detrimental effect on the body.

  • Look for complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fatty acids
  • Antioxidants found in foods like berries, fruits, vegetables protect the cells against the damage caused by chronic stress.
  • Make a shopping list with wholesome foods and less packaged food.
  • Carry healthy snacks with like nuts to avoid outside food.
  • Stay away from processed foods, and avoid put a thought before you eat anything.

Nutrients: Nutrients such as Vitamin C, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acid help to lessen the effects of stress on the body and mind. Make sure enough is taken in diet and consult a doctor to check if extra supplements are required.


Stress often rob’s a person’s ability for a good, sound sleep. Insomnia, an inability to fall and stay asleep is a common occurrence of stress. If a person is not able to sleep for three times a week for at least 3 months, they may have insomnia. This further adds to stress level causing a stress-sleeplessness cycle.

Following some habits may help a person sleep better. Habits include:

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Getting adequate sunlight
  • Less alcohol and caffeine consumption closer to bedtime
  • Setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it
  • No electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime
  • Mediation and relaxation techniques as a bedtime routine.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques help in reducing stress. These are:

Yoga: A form of exercise, but meditation is included. Out of the many types of yoga, the ones that focusing on slow movement, stretching, and deep breathing are best.

Meditation: Meditation has known benefits of lowering stress, anxiety, and chronic pain as well as improving sleep, energy levels, and mood. Best way to learn meditation is to get into guided programs to establish a routine and learn mediation initially. Self-meditation can be done later.

Deep breathing: Relaxes the body and creates a state of deep rest while changing your response to stress. It achieves this by sending more oxygen to the brain and calming the part of the nervous system that handles relaxation.

Biofeedback: Biofeedback provides information about how the body reacts during relaxation by placing sensors are placed on the body that show changes in the body.

Connecting with people: Spending time with a friend or family member that listens to you helps in reducing stress.

Professional help can always be sought if the stress level goes above your limit.


  1. Lauren Ragland. Ways to Manage Stress. WebMD. December 2023.
  2. Stress Management. Mayo Clinic. December 2023.

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