Stress can happen for a multitude of reasons. From financial woes to moving houses to work deadlines to school work, there are plenty of instances that life throws at us that keep our stress levels high. None of these stressful times equates to more or less stress than the other. It all comes down to the person experiencing the stress and how they handle the different situations.
Along with the many different sources for your stress is the many different ways it shows itself. Physical symptoms like migraines, neck aches, muscle tension and even heartburn can be telltale signs that you are under pressure. Emotional symptoms such as nervousness, irritability and extreme moods can also be signs that you are experiencing more stress than usual.
To help when the physical and emotional sides of stress creep up, take a quick minute to ask yourself these three questions to ease your worries and help you continue through your day.
1. Have I Accomplished My Basic Needs For The Day?
There are certain needs for humans to be able to function from day to day. Without these important basic needs such as food, water and sleep, the intricate systems of the human body cannot function properly, leaving a person with unwanted mental and physical symptoms.
-Medication: When it comes to questions to ask yourself to help manage your stress, depending on your situation, the first question you might need to ask is “Have I taken my medication today?” There are many different anti-anxiety drugs your doctor can prescribe that can help the brain’s chemistry sort itself out to help lower stress.
-Eating and hydration: What you put into your body is incredibly important to help you manage your stress and other emotional symptoms. Having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and free of unrefined sugar goes a long way in keeping your body’s systems working at optimal levels for your physical and mental health. Drinking the recommended amount of water each day also keeps your mental acuity in check.
-Sleeping well: If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: sleeping eight hours each night is so important! When we sleep our brains use that time to process all of the day’s information and to repair muscles and other important bodily functions. Without this all-important sleep, our bodies’ intricate processes are interrupted, leaving our brains unable to get through the next day’s activities without added stress, worry and irritability.
-Exercise and meditation: While sleep may be important, the opposite is also important. Exercising in any way possible throughout the day keeps stress levels down, according to the Mayo Clinic. Raising your endorphins by doing something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator can give you that extra boost you need to make it through the next stressful situation. Yoga and meditation go hand in hand with exercise, as they have similar effects on reducing and relieving stress.
2. What Is The Worst Outcome That Could Occur?
Have you ever been in a new or stressful situation and immediately thought the worst outcome possible was going to occur? If so, you aren’t alone. It’s natural to assume the worst in a scary situation, but you can beat those negative thoughts.
More often than not the worst possible outcome isn’t really so bad. For example, a person who is afraid of needles might be asked “What’s the worst possible outcome from this simple injection?” and when pausing to think about it logically, the person will hopefully realize the worst thing that could happen is that it will hurt for a few seconds.
Sometimes we let our imaginations get away from us, causing us extra unnecessary stress. So what are some of the worst outcomes that could occur in any given situation?
-Serious injury: This outcome is black and white: if something you are doing might actually cause you serious injury or even death, consider doing something else! Ask a friend if you’re unsure if you’re coming up with this outcome unrealistically or if what you are about to do or going through really is that dangerous. Removing yourself from stressful situations that can cause you physical harm is a good rule of thumb.
-Embarrassment or shame: If your stressful event may cause you embarrassment or shame, think about how bad that embarrassment would be. Feeling embarrassed isn’t pleasant, but it’s nothing that you can’t survive. One thing to remember is that you might not even have this outcome—it’s only one of many! So why let it stop you?
-Failing: This is a common fear and stress trigger. First, realize that not succeeding at a task is a possible outcome in many situations. To combat this thought, next consider what comes after failing. If you fail at a task, you can then try again. Or you can try something else where you’re more likely to succeed. Feel a bit comforted knowing that failure doesn’t mean the end.
3. What Would My Role Model Do?
In stressful situations, we often don’t know how to handle ourselves or how to proceed. Often you may wish to ask a trusted friend or family member for help, to be set on the right path out of the stressful event. Unfortunately, you might not have an advocate with you, so you will be on your own. This is when you must recall situations you have witnessed of other people’s reactions to stressful events.
You can then decipher which response to emulate to help you in your stressful situation. Having a core group of people you look up to in mind can give you an arsenal of ways to combat any stress that pops up in your day to day.
-Parents: Oftentimes your parents or an important family member will be the first person you may attempt to emulate. From being a young child to a grown adult, you can feel solace in knowing that you learned important life skills from your family members such as how to react in different situations.
-Religious figure: Depending on your beliefs, you may have a particular religious figure, either in current times or in history, to look up to. Using teachings from faith and religion is one way some people keep themselves calm and in check.
-Mentor: If you currently can’t think of someone to consider as your mentor or role model—keep thinking! There’s bound to be someone you have come across in life, such as a teacher, an old boss, or even a sibling that has good morals and has had an impact on you in one way or another. This is the type of person you will want to keep in mind during stressful events so you can consider what they would do in the same situation. In a way, they’re continuing to teach and guide you in life, without even being right next to you!
Knowing that you hold all of this knowledge and experience can instantly relieve some of the stress you are feeling.