The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Stress

There are many different definitions of stress. One common definition is simply having too many things to do, without the time or energy to do them. Today’s society is the perfect breeding ground for stress to develop, with an influx of data and choices. Stress is fast becoming the norm in modern society where everything runs at breakneck speed. Additionally, the World Health Organization has indicated that depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide and only 25% of those with the illness have access to treatment. Stress and depression are often inter-related, and some classification systems list depression as a subcategory of stress.

There has been a significant rise in stress-related illnesses and stress has been linked to multiple diseases. According to one study published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal, chronic stress accelerates the aging process.  80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly 50% say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42% say their co-workers need such help , as per the American Institute of Stress.

Though most commonly associated with the workplace, stress is found across all aspects of life and across all social categories… It is found in children, the elderly, men, women, poor, rich, healthy and sick. Stress and depression are frequently experienced by people who outwardly appear happy, but are suffering inside.

As per the American Psychological Association (APA), stress is a huge concern for America teenagers between ninth and twelfth grade. Experts suggest that if they don’t learn healthy methods to manage that stress now, it could have adverse long-term health implications. In Australia, 91% of citizens feel severe stress in at least one area of their lives (Lifeline Australia). According to the Regus Group, 60% of workers in major economies experience stress, with Chinese workers experiencing the highest levels.

On the positive side, some countries (particularly in South America) report having higher levels of happiness and less stress. Surprisingly, countries such as Switzerland report high levels of stress, despite being one of the world’s wealthiest and most advanced countries. Multiple studies also suggest that after a certain point, increased wealth does not result in increased happiness, and can become a cause of stress while trying to acquire more. This figure is often quoted at around $70,000.

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors such as divorce, financial worries, social anxiety, or work issues. And yet, as common as the mental illness may be, there are some time-tested and efficient modalities that are proven to deal with the stress of all kinds. It is important to emphasize that stress is very subjective in its effects. What stresses one person out may not bother another, and healing therapy for one person will not work the same for another. Some might find that an infrared sauna relaxes them far more than a walk in the park, others prefer a good shiatsu foot massage as opposed to an exercise routine.

Relaxation is the obvious antidote to stress.  Stress is an internal phenomenon which affects the human body. What occurs is that people generate stress for themselves with their thoughts which has a negative impact on various physiological functioning . When a person is in a relaxed state, they cease to generate stress for themselves. Regardless of the type and intensity of stress, relaxation always helps, as it takes the mind from the problem. The best ways to deal with stress are outlined below.

1. Stress Identification

Many times, people are not actually aware of what is the cause of their stress. They are frequently dealing with an “energy vampire” who uses them for support. They could have a poor relationship with a family member. They could be eating the wrong foods, failing to exercise, have bad posture, negative thoughts, etc. It is always a good idea to simply stop and identify the potential causes of stress. Many times it is not obvious.

Stress identification is only step one, but it is the most important step. Most people actually give themselves strict goals and deadlines which causes them stress when they fail to make them. If the goal is stressing you out, don’t feel like you “failed”. You created the goal in the first place, and you can push it back if you wish. Even in instances where somebody else is setting the deadline, such as a bank demanding money or a boss demanding work. You can refinance or get a new job, and there are always options.

2. Massage

A massage is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. In fact, the sole purpose of massage is to reduce stress and to induce relaxation. But all massages are not made equal. In terms of reducing stress, the Swedish massage is typically the most effective. While other massages might be stronger (such as the Deep Tissue massage or the Thai Yoga massage), they can strain the body and are not for everyone. It is also possible to get the a foot and calf massager to destress after the days work. If you want a full body massage, choose one of the best massage chairs rated by consumer reports. Alternatives to massage include an Epsom salt bath or simply taking a walk in nature. However, these are not the same as getting a high-quality massage from a skilled therapist, as stress will literally be erased from the body in the joints, muscles, and tissues.

3. Exercise

It has long been established that there is a link between exercise and stress. Put simply, the less that people exercise, the more stressed out they are likely to be. Why this is the case has not been verified. However, exercise does release endorphins and other bliss chemicals in the brain, which can help to reduce stress. Exercise has been demonstrated to reduce cortisol levels in the brain, cortisol being the main chemical associated with stress. The chemical is released into the body when a threat is perceived.

In ancient times, when a human saw a tiger or similar like threatening creature, cortisol would be released and this would help to survive. But today,  cortisol is being released for minor stressors such as job duties and financial worries. To combat this evolutionary mishap, it is very important to exercise a minimum of at least 4 times a week. It will reduce cortisol while increasing positive chemicals in the body, which also act as natural painkillers. Aside from dealing with stress, regular exercise has many positive benefits. Unfortunately, according to the American Psychological Association, only  17% of adults report exercising daily.

4. Meditation

Meditation has the potential to relieve stress in multiple ways.  Stress is most commonly caused by people who attempt to do too many things in too short a time-frame, and the simple remedy for this is to let go of the need to complete them in that time frame.  For example, they might believe that they have to get 7 tasks done before the day is finished. But by regular meditation, people can understand that the tasks are not actually all that important, or they can be completed another time, or that the list of tasks is actually endless and that there is simply no point stressing out about it.

The scientific benefits of meditation are not disputed. There are over 600 scientifically verified studies from independent institutions regarding the efficacy of Transcendental Meditation, with improvements shown on metrics ranging from blood pressure to creativity levels. Researchers from John Hopkins University published findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association that indicated that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses including anxiety, depression, and pain.

5. Diet

A proper diet is essential for a stress-free life. However, its effects are usually indirectly related. An unhealthy diet is often full of toxins that will rob energy over time. Caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar and processed foods are all poor choices and will indirectly lead to stress. With many of the new chemicals, dyes, flavorings, and ‘enhancements’ that are being put in the food supply, nobody really understands what their long-term effects are going to be. A stress-free life requires a pure diet – it is essential for true health and happiness. Some people might appear to get away with it in the short-term, but in the long run, nobody escapes from a diet of food harmful to the body and brain. While diet can be a very subjective and sensitive area, most could do with an increase of fruit and vegetables and a decrease in red meat and processed foods. A recommendation that is applicable to everybody is that all food should be organic, local, and fresh, as much as possible. There are also a number of foods that are particularly effective at inducing relaxation.

6. Data Detox

There is a definite link between the constant stream of information that everybody has access to and the rise in mental health issues. The effects of wifi on mental and emotional wellbeing are not established, and 5G is just around the corner. Everybody could do with a data detox every now and again. There are different ways of doing this. To get the full experience, consider a silent retreat. Alternatively, consider going on a social media fast, as social media platforms are often indirect contributors to stress. It can be helpful to become aware that too much information is too much information, and that includes self-help information. It is often best to completely take a break from devices and get outside in nature.

7. Set Clear Boundaries; Learn to Say No

A major cause of stress is actually because people try to please other people without setting clear boundaries. When these boundaries are not established, the other person naturally (and often not even maliciously) takes advantage. Remember that if you go the extra mile to please your employer with a stunning file, your boss is simply going to expect that quality from you every time. The same goes for every type of task or decision. If you act like its no problem doing a favor for a friend, then that friend is naturally going to think that it is no problem for you to be constantly doing favors.  If you don’t set boundaries, people will keep violating your space. 

Conclusion – Staving off Stress

These are just some of the best and most established ways to manage stress, which everybody in the modern era suffers from. It is most important to exercise regularly and go for a massage now and again to destress, as well as attend to diet and get a good nights rest. Many of these seem common sense, but very few people actually pay close attention to their diet, exercise, or sleeping routines.

A person who does not eat well and has a diet full of processed food is unlikely to have a stress free life, simply because he or she will not have the energy to do tasks or solve problems in an appropriate time frame. As such, they are likely to be unreliable and have poor relationships. It goes without saying that some stress, such as the death of a loved one, can only be solved with time and patience. But a relaxation routine involving exercise, diet, meditation, and massage, will definitely help deal with most forms of stress.