The first thing to do to manage stress is to identify the factors that stress you. There is a list of stressors attached that will help you to figure out what stresses you, however this list is not a complete one as there may be numerous other factors that may stress you out. So first try to make a list of all the factors that stress you and one can allot on points on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is least stress and 10 is the maximum stress. These answers will further be graded.
In cases when stress exceeds about 60% in normal life, it becomes detrimental to the well being of the individual. If it is over 80% then the individual is not able to function properly and this leads to Burn out, that is, a person is too stressed out and is unable to function properly.
Usually, one major reason from among others is due to the personal habits of the individual. These may often be related to poor time management, bad work habits, procrastination, taking on work beyond one’s capacities, not being able to say no to certain jobs or persons, always trying to be in the centre of attention, substance abuse, smoking and so on.
Reactions to Stress
There are usually three reactions to Stress. Here the person reacts in the following manner:
- Anger: Over-reactive, unstable, not still, aggressive, nervous, etc
- Frozen: Un-reactive, non-responsive, slow, little energy or emotion; sometimes somewhat dazed and confused.
- Both Anger in part and Frozen in part: Both the above mentioned in part, in some situations angry and aggressive and in others non-responsive.
Stress warning Signs and Symptoms1.) Physical Problems
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
- Loss of sex drive
- Frequent colds
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
- Irritability or short temper
- Agitation, inability to relax
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of loneliness and isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
What is Burnout? Questions that point to it:
- Does your work never seem to end?
- Does everyday seem like a bad day?
- Do you find yourself left with no time for yourself and your family?
- Are you unable to relax and feel agitated at small disturbances?
- Would you call most of your life ‘stressful’?
- Do you feel tired all the time?
- Do you feel like you are headed nowhere and all the work that you do is for nothing?
- Do you find that your work is very boring/ overwhelming?
- Does your work look like a waste of energy to you?
- Do you feel very alone in this world?
- Do you feel unhappy?
This list of questions will give you an idea of your feelings towards your work and your sentiment in life. Yes answers indicate a fatigue and a burnout, but these questions will only give a broad direction and they are not an exhaustive test by any means.
What to do if your stress levels are high or you have burn out already:
- You need to take a break: Burn out occurs due to a number of reasons. You have been working too hard. Reducing your work load may reduce some stress but it will rarely remove the burnout. You have to take a break and find yourself some time to rest, recuperate and heal. Undoubtedly, it is very difficult to leave your job and take a break, especially due to numerous financial considerations, however, if you do not stop, the stress and burn out will affect your health. Better to take a break than to chance suffering a heart attack.
- Go through a Stress Management Program: If you have reached a critical level of Stress then you should consider using your break to get some professional help so that you may understand the causes for your stress better, as well as undergo a program to help reduce your stress.
- Relations and Friends: Support from your friends and relations is necessary to ensure that you are able to choose a better life style so as to reduce and manage stress in the future. Being able to talk, to express your sentiments and open out your heart to someone also helps to unburden the mind.
- Setting your life Goals: Often when we work, the work becomes more important and all consuming, we often forget the reasons why we work. Do not allow your work to consume all your time and energy; always remember to prioritize the goals of your life. Leave adequate time for rest and your family.
- Regular Physical exercise: One must regularly exercise as this improves the mood, tones up the body and relaxes the body and mind. Once the body is tired, sleep becomes better and stress lowers.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Take out some time everyday to do some breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and meditation.
Stress Management Program:
The program is divided into five parts.
- Identifying the stressors: There are numerous factors that stress out persons. One has to identify these factors, so as to manage them and help reduce stress in the future.
- Measuring your stress: After identifying stressors one must make a measure of them to understand the stress level of each individual.
- Theory on how to manage stress: Theoretical knowledge on how to manage stress; what to avoid, what to do, what lifestyle changes to make so as to live a more quality life. Understanding your priorities, learning to say no, better time management, etc.
- Stress management techniques: Special techniques that are practiced by the individual to help reduce stress and heal the mind and body. These techniques revolve around physical exercises, Breathing techniques, Relaxation techniques, and Meditation.
- How to manage stress in your daily life: After the program is over and one has reduced or zero stress levels, what must an individual do to ensure that they do not become stressed in the future.