Effective methods to reduce stress

We live in a society distinguished by information and knowledge. By now, we are used to dealing with the most diverse aspects of everyday life “at the touch of a button” or the combination of private and work-related matters. This modern life overburdens many people because it is not immediately clear how concrete priorities should be set – in this context experts also refer to “Fomo”, the English abbreviation for “Fear of Missing Out”. This “Fear of Missing Out” is one reason why many people are online almost all day long, planning their holidays or leisure activities down to the last detail, while at the same time developing expectations that can quickly disturb the healthy balance.

The opposite development is a trend called “Jomo”, English for “Joy of Missing Out”. This means acting consciously, not following everything and everyone, reducing the pace, taking more time for yourself, your interests, relationships, hobbies and the like. Those who want to reduce stress should therefore try to see themselves and their possibilities more realistically, and acknowledge that there are needs that remain the same regardless of any innovation or trend over the years.

In the following paragraphs we will provide you with helpful information on the subject of “reducing stress”, and will try to explain the most important mechanisms behind it.

Someone who wants to reduce stress, should become familiarized with the topic of “Coping”

People perceive themselves and their environment differently, evaluate aspects differently and deal with conflicts, stress situations and other problems in their own way. In technical terms, analogous to the transactional stress model according to Lazarus and Folkman (1984), one therefore also speaks of “coping” when dealing with stress is concerned.

What is Coping? Coping refers to efforts at the level of thought or behaviour to deal with external and/or internal requirements, or to mitigate, end or change the situation that is relevant to stress. Coping happens continuously, even independently of the actual success. There is a feedback on the own skills and resources (cf. Zapf and Semmer 2004; see also Kölbach and Zapf 2015).

Coping describes the processes involved in reducing stress and developing a kind of coping strategy, solving a problem or tackling it in some other way. In the following, we would like to provide some examples of coping.

Problem-related coping

People develop coping strategies to reduce stress and its causes. They obtain specific information, for example, through the Internet, counselling centres or self-help groups, and they seek advice from family, friends or relatives. They analyse the problem, develop an action plan, and try to master the situation step by step – often in connection with a move, a change of job, an open approach to problems or conflicts and a change in their own way of working.

Emotion-related coping

In cases where behaviour does not explicitly serve to improve the stress-inducing situation, but to treat the emotions associated with it, one speaks of symptom-oriented or emotion-related coping.

People interpret something positive into the matter, go about it with humour, try to learn from it or trivialize things by comparing themselves with others. Often combined with an internal distance that serves as a kind of protective shield. They try to counter stress through an expression of feelings, for example, through gestures, facial expressions or pronounced acceptance.

Quite a few turn to exercise for relaxation, yoga or behavioural therapies – others choose a numbing mechanism as a means of coping (alcohol, psychotropic drugs, etc.) and unknowingly amplify many symptoms associated with stress.

Cognitive Coping

This refers to a reassessment of the situation, which often occurs years or decades later. Things can appear less threatening or dangerous from a distance, from a different angle and under changing circumstances. It is a way of coping with stress that can help to reduce stress, as it can create a new degree of self-confidence.

Relieving stress: What can I do personally?

Now that you have gained a little theory on the subject of “relieving stress” in the previous paragraphs, we would like to present some very specific tips and tricks to help you cope better with stress.

Arrange non-working days

Often it helps to reduce the work time (for a short time) or to spread the workload over a few days to create an additional day off. One more day provides time for hobbies, work and activities, but is by no means as drastic as a change of job. As a matter of principle, there are imponderables in this area, because it is not per se clear that working conditions are better elsewhere, or that it’s easier to integrate in a new job.

Change of lifestyles

Man is a creature of habit. As a result, many problems are attributable to the way we do things. Reflect for a moment and think about what burdens you in everyday life and whether these habits are really proper – a lot can be changed, for example, in the interaction with work colleagues, through new hobbies, etc.

Demand social support

Nobody is perfect, so it would make sense to ask good friends, acquaintances or family members how they have dealt with certain problems or situations. Learning from others helps to develop better strategies to gain the upper hand in stressful situations.

Make relaxation an integral part of everyday life

Unfortunately, many people use medication or the glass of wine every evening in order to wind down. Over time, this can easily develop into a spiral that leads to addiction or dependency. Apart from the fact that alcohol numbs and thus contributes to falling asleep, the quality of sleep is considerably impaired. Therefore, omission or a clear reduction leads to more calmness, energy and vitality in everyday life. This makes you more resistant to stressful situations and more likely to cope with them.

Pick specific days or times to participate in sports courses, Meditation Courses or anything similar. Regardless of professional or private obligations, it is important to perceive these times as something valuable and enriching.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise, sometimes in a group, increases your general well-being, strengthens your immune system and gives you new ideas. For example, some addicts choose exercise as a substitute for their addictive substance and thus successfully overcome addiction because they do something that gives them confirmation, light feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

Identify problematic situations

Many people actually absorb problems into themselves. They try to please everyone and are so under pressure that even minor problems can be “the drop that makes the bucket overflow”. Burnout is a term here, because in case of doubt the continuous exhaustion leads to the feeling that someone can’t isn’t able to even complete all the tasks, because everything is connected with stressful circumstances in the job. Gain a realistic overview of your qualifications and professional opportunities, in order to change jobs or even the industry – money is not everything, many people find their fulfilment in professions with a high social appeal, in voluntary work or social work.

Identify and recognize stress factors

Especially single parents, low earners, people in precarious employment relationships or similar must be able to “master” various aspects of private and professional life, which often leads to the fact that there is no room for their own needs due to constant requirement to solve problems.

Try to recognize where the stress factors lie, in which situations stress comes to light or with which persons you associate stress. This allows you to work better to reduce your stress naturally by avoiding situations or people.

Stress management

Stress in the job is often caused by under or over-stressing, incorrect time planning, inadequate delegation or opaque priorities. Try to organize yourself better. Divide tasks appropriately, and acquire the information or skills you need to better deal with stress, deadline pressure and the like in the future. If you want to reduce stress, you can also acquire knowledge for other areas of life at the same time.

Gain mental strength

In order to reduce stress, you should also ask yourself what demands you are placing on yourself and your actions. Perfectionists usually fail because of themselves, because they define limits and goals that cannot be met in the long run. Therefore, try to mentally respond better to situations – see difficulties as challenges, reflect on what you have already achieved and enjoy it. Focus more on the essentials.

Time for relaxation

Regeneration is the key to success in competitive, endurance or weight training. Why shouldn’t that apply in normal life? No one can always perform at their best 24/7, therefore signs of fatigue and exhaustion should be recognized an early stage. Change your diet, go to bed early and treat yourself to a time-out from all technical devices. You don’t have to be reachable at all times. At the same time, it makes sense to establish and maintain contacts outside the professional sphere in order to get to know other ways of life and to bring variety into everyday life.

Select your own pace

Avoid always looking at everything only through comparisons and thereby evaluating yourself. Everyone is different, many paths lead to the goal. Therefore, make it clear to yourself that every person has different abilities, a different way of perceiving things, and also a different stress tolerance – you don’t have to be able to do everything that the great colleague or neighbour does with the same speed and in the same manner. Instead, concentrate on what makes you special and unique. This can become evident through hobbies, activities or travel, but also through exercise, games or encounters with other people.

Concluding notes: Relieving stress in order to clear the mind

The advice selected above is intended to help you to deal with stressful situations in a more relaxed manner, and not to deny yourself things or always see them as a competition. Much of what puts us under permanent stress can be easily recognized and mastered through minor changes or “the view from a distance”. Allow yourself a little time out here and there, and focus on what is really important to you. It will help you to recognize stressful situations, to deal with them better and thus to counteract the occurrence of stress at an early stage.

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