Stress is difficult to define objectively. The objective definition of stress remains elusive. Stress has a subjective component. There are 3 major ways in which stress is conceptualized by psychologists: as a Stimulus, Response, and Interaction. Stress is defined as a situation in which demand is greater than individual resources. Demands of adjustment can arise from positive events like getting married, entering into college. Demands for adjustment from positive events are called Eustress. Demands for adjustment from negative events are called Distress. Distress arises from negative events. There are different approaches to understanding stress. There are different ways to overcome and manage stress.
Image source: economictimes.com The frequency and intensity of stress vary from person to person. A stressor is defined as anything that makes the body out of balance and the stress response is the series of physiological adaptations that again establish balance. Stress is manifested physiologically also. Stress has an evaluative component also. Too much stress can cause physical illness also, like cancer, coronary heart disease, asthma, and allergic reactions. An important aspect of a stressful experience is that it places demands on a person that must be met, in other words, coped with and managed. Coping is defined as the behaviors that are used to cope with internal and external demands. It is a complex process, subject to personality, religious beliefs, behavior patterns, psychosocial factors. Emotional management is a very crucial aspect of coping strategies. Coping strategies
Image source: verywellmind.com To manage daily-life stresses, there are two types of coping strategies: problem-focused, and emotion-focused. Problem-focused coping strategies involve attempts to do something constructive about the stressful situation. Emotion-focused coping strategies involve efforts to regulate emotions experienced because of the stressful event. Problem focused coping strategies emerge during childhood. Emotion focused coping strategies emerge in late childhood or early adolescence. Some problem-focused coping strategies are: looking up on the internet about the problem, resolving problem step-by-step, and asking friends for practical assistance. Some emotion-focused strategies are: using distraction as a technique, reframing and rationalizing the problem in a positive light, asking for support from friends and relatives. Another kind of coping has been proposed called avoidance coping. It is not always bad to cope with a problem by avoiding it. Avoidance coping can be good if it involves distancing. In distancing, the person acknowledges the problem but tries not to think about it. Acknowledging the problem is the first way to cope with it. Acknowledging the problem and not thinking about it is especially helpful when nothing can be done and it also enables the individual to enjoy the moment. The more typical form of avoidance coping is escapism and it is deleterious. Depending on the problem you are facing, you can use any one or all the coping strategies and one thing important to note is that different strategies may interact with each other in solving a problem. People use both the strategies suggesting that both types are useful. Resilience
Image source: edx.com Resilience is another important construct. Resilience means bouncing back from stress and adversities. There are cultural differences in the way different coping strategies might be helpful in dealing with problems and reducing distress than others. A coping strategy which is useful in one particular culture may not be helpful in the other one. Be more compassionate towards yourself Stress management and coping can also be about being more compassionate towards yourself. Stop comparing yourself from others. Identify your own coping mechanisms. Judge yourself less harshly. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge what you need as a person and find the best alternative. Focus on the Here and Now that is the Present. Self-care is the key Stress management can also be about self-care. Maintain a routine, focus on things that you can control, connect socially, acknowledge your feelings, do one thing that you like-daily! Manage your anxiety Coping is also about managing anxiety. Acknowledging feelings is one way. Mindful meditation and distraction is another. You should keep in mind that there are certain things in your control and some that you can’t control. Have a routine. Psychological contributions to coping There are certain psychological contributions to coping. Stress management interventions can be described as Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary. Primary interventions change environmental conditions that produce any stress. Secondary interventions help individuals to employ more effective stress management behaviors, such as exercise. Tertiary interventions are counselling and psychotherapy. Social support Social support is a crucial element in coping with stress. Social support is associated with larger community groups, family, friends, workplace networks, acquaintances, etc. It is a vital resource indeed. Social support is defined as the experience of being loved by others, esteemed and valued, and being a part of social network for mutual assistance. If you have a good social support network, it is likely that you will have less stress. Social and emotional support refers to assistance shared through social relationships and interpersonal interactions. There are 4 functions of it:
- Instrumental support- money, labor, time, practical help
- Information support- advice, suggestions, info.
- Appraisal support- affirmation, social comparison
- Emotional support-affection, concern, listening, venting emotions.
People respond differently to stress. Optimism is one way to deal with stress. Optimism is the way of life. An optimistic nature can lead individuals to deal more effectively with stress and hence reduce the risk for illness. People high on optimism have a more positive mood, which in itself can lead to a state of physiological resilience. Optimism also promotes more persistent coping efforts which can improve long-term prospects for psychological adjustment and health. Optimists use more problem-focused coping strategies than denial. Optimism is a potent resource. Coping resources Coping resources like Self-Esteem can be helpful in stress. People high on self-esteem are less likely to get affected by stress. Coping resources are important because they enable individuals to manage the demands of a job, financial stress and other stresses. Styles of coping There are two kinds of coping styles: Avoidant and Approach. Avoidant coping style is minimizing kind of coping style. Approach style is confrontative and vigilant. In Approach style, people engage in cognitive and emotional efforts to deal with stress. Stress remains to be a tricky concept. Stress is there and will come some or the other day. The key is solving the stressful situations that can be harmful to us. Stress is manifested physiologically and has an impact on our mental health. It has an aspect of mental health attached to it. When we talk about mental health, we talk about feelings, but there are physiological manifestations of stress within it like wetting of hands, heart pumping fastly etc. Hassles have a cumulative impact on daily life and mental and physical health also. As discussed, there are four ways in which people manage stress like emotion focused, problem-focused, approach, avoidance. Social support is a key element in dealing with stress. Research has shown that those people who have support of their family and friends are more likely to get out of stress easily. Exercise
Image source: heplguide.com Working out regularly is the best way to keep away from stress. It is good for both body and mind. Exercise improves the mood also. In a week, we should work up to 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise like jogging or other sports. Deep breathing
Image source: healthshots.com Deep breathing is another way to relieve stress. Mindful meditation is a way to calm your heart and body and mind. It is really helpful. Meditation is advised by many doctors and psychologists also. Eating a balanced diet
Image source: parenting.firstcry.com Eating a regular, well-balanced diet is also essential. If you eat well, you will be healthy and less prone to stress. It will control your mood also. Your meals should include green vegetable, protein, fruits, whole grain. Know your limitations Life in the city is really busy, so we should know our limitations and chill out. Break down big jobs into smaller ones. For example, if you have to work on an assignment, you can break it down into smaller parts and chunks so that it is easy to tackle. Take breaks Taking breaks is also very essential. You can work for 30 minutes at a stretch and then take a 15 minutes break. Breaks include listening to music, yoga, coffee, prayer, spending time in nature. Time for hobbies
Image source: flexjobs.com You should also take time for hobbies like reading, knitting, drawing, playing, and doing puzzles, playing cards and games. Taking time for hobbies is very helpful in many ways. It is helpful because you are doing what you like, you are doing what you enjoy. Hence, one should go for hobbies. Talk about your problems Talk about your problems. If something is troubling you, talk about it. You can talk to a family member, friend, doctor, and therapist. This will lower your stress. Venting of emotions and catharsis is really essential. Refrain from perfectionism. This is really essential. No one is perfect. No one can be perfect. Hence, we should understand and accept this fact and strive for optimum growth. One should also keep in mind, that there are some things that are in our hand and some that aren’t. One should understand this and not drool over things we can’t control.