Stress Management

Stress is a normal response to everyday situations. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “good” stress. A small amount of stress can motivate you to finish a task, do well on a test, or meet a deadline. High stress or chronic stress can be very damaging to your health and you should seek advice from your physician to help manage it.

Following simple stress management tips can improve your health. Stress has been related to health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, ulcers, migraines, and sleeping problems or disorders. Everyone experiences stress but it is important to know what causes your stress, how you respond when these things happen, and how you can manage your stress during those difficult times.

Physiological coping strategies: One way to reduce stress if you respond to stress physiologically is to use breathing techniques with muscle relaxation. When using breathing techniques, you want to inhale and exhale deeply. While inhaling, you can tighten the muscles that are typically tense when you are stressed. When exhaling, relax those same muscles. Be sure to recognize the difference between the tense muscle and the relaxed muscles. Usually, it is best to do a consistent count for each inhale and exhale such as a count of two or three. This will help slow down your heart rate and breathing rate. It will also help relax your muscles and your mind as you are increasing the amount of oxygen to both.

Behavioral coping strategies: There are both positive and negative coping strategies that people use. Some people may drink or smoke because of stress but these are obviously negative coping strategies. Some positive coping strategies are writing goals to tackle the problem, writing “to do” lists, exercising, or doing the things that increase eustress (good stress). Writing goals and lists help to organize thoughts and actions so that you know how to fix the problem or possibly remove the stressor if possible. Exercise increases endorphins in our body or gives us the “runner’s high” while also releasing the tension in our body and feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration.

Cognitive coping strategies: Along with using some of the previously stated coping strategies, you may want to use positive self-talk or give yourself reaffirming statements. It is very easy for people to tell themselves, “I stink!” and believe it when problems happen. Instead, recognize the times that you use the negative statements that decrease your confidence and use a cue word such as “relax” or “stop” to remind yourself to stop saying these statements. Then use positive, reaffirming statements of aspects at which you are good to replace those negative thoughts. If you are struggling with your defense during a game, you may want to say that you are good at the offense while also reminding yourself about the good aspects of your defensive game.

NOTE: The health information provided on this website is designed to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional before starting a new treatment or to answer questions about a medical condition.