How to get back to life after prolonged stress

Psychologists identify seven tactics for dealing with stress, but in everyday life, the three most effective will be enough.

We’ve all experienced stress at least once in our lives. It is a feeling that we no longer have the strength and energy to solve the problems that endlessly weigh us down to the ground. It remains only to experience, reflect and experience again.

This condition is detrimental to our body not only psychologically, but also physically. What is the main danger of stress and how to deal with it, said graduate researcher Dane McCarrick and professor of psychology Darryl O’Connor at the University of Leeds.

Why stress is dangerous

Often, even after the first bout of stress wears off, experiences continue to noticeably affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Why this happens is explained by the hypothesis of perseverative thinking – the tendency to linger for a long time on certain thoughts. Long-term experiences intensify the body’s initial short-term response to stress and trigger this process over and over again, even when the source of the discomfort is gone.

Research by psychologists showedthat thinking about what might go wrong in the future or what has already gone wrong in the past affects our healthy habits as well. We sleep and eat worse, and some may even begin to abuse illegal substances.

What strategies can help you get rid of stress?

To overcome stress, you need to get rid of worries and reflections. This can be done in two ways – “shutting off” the body’s natural response to stress, or avoiding unhealthy habits.

We decided to take a deeper look at this issue and carefully reviewed the studies that comprehensively studied the process of inner experiences and their impact on healthy habits. We have selected 36 suitable works out of 10,500 works. They are devoted to different methods, which can be roughly divided into seven broad categories:

  1. Active planning. It means the allocation of a special period of time for experiences.
  2. Stress management. These are therapies that reduce the level of anxiety, for example, by shifting the focus of attention to aspects of life that are amenable to control.
  3. Rest and mindfulness – focusing on the present moment.
  4. Psychological splitting off. These are practices that help you switch from the source of stress to other subjects or activities.
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Responsibility Therapy. It is about working on negative and unhelpful thoughts and finding strategies to deal with stress on your own.
  6. Expressive writing is an honest record of your thoughts and feelings.
  7. Internal pain management. This category includes ways that help muffle anxiety.

All of these techniques helped study participants cope with negative thinking and stress, and also positively influenced their healthy habits. This proves that you can learn to experience much less and even turn stress management into rituals that support health.

The best results in activating healthy habits were shown by the tactics of active planning and psychological “splitting off”. It can be concluded that when dealing with stress, it is important to instantly switch and postpone worries for later, planning the right time for this.

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How to use stress management techniques

If you’ve been stressed out the past few days and are worried about the effect this will have on your health, there are three basic techniques that can help you.

Our experience has shown that these methods reduce the level of anxiety and effectively deal with stress. Let’s say right away: this is not a miracle pill that will make all your fears disappear, as if by magic. Each technique works differently depending on the person. Be patient and get ready for serious work – only regular effort will make the stress recede.

1. Planning

Create a detailed and easy-to-follow schedule for your experiences. For example, you will indulge in sadness tonight from 8:30 pm to 9:00 pm. This will help keep you afloat if things go badly.

You can also try several effective planning approaches.

Reduce your time for worry

Give yourself a limited amount of time each day to “drain” your stress. It can be three “approaches” for 10 minutes or an hour in the evening. The clearer your timeline is, the better. This will help you keep negativity in check throughout the day and reduce your overall thinking and worrying time.

It is best to plan such “approaches” in the evening, but several hours before bedtime.

Write down your fears

If you find it difficult to hold out all day while waiting for the time allotted for worrying, write down your fears. Once you see all your fears on paper or in notes on your phone, you realize that the problem is not as serious as it seems.

2. Acceptance and control

Setting ambitious goals and striving for more is definitely good. But it is also important to accept the fact that you cannot always be perfect and perform flawlessly. In addition, you need to understand what your experiences are beyond your control. This can be done in several ways.

List the problems

It works in much the same way as the fear list. Only this time you need to fix the problems that life has thrown at you. When you see them all right in front of you, it will be easier for you to understand which ones should be tackled first, which ones you can handle in principle, and which ones are beyond your control. This will help move from passive experiences to active actions.

Accept the inevitable

Accept that both you and your life will not always be perfect. Open up to any emotions, even the most pleasant ones, and learn not to react too violently when things don’t go according to plan.

In times when it becomes difficult for you to cope with feelings, focus on what is happening here and now. You can try to apply the concept of awareness – to cultivate within yourself an absolute acceptance of your personality and the events of your life.

Break the habit of worrying

More often than not, worrying is an old habit. But it can be replaced with other, more effective techniques. For example, come up with your own mantra to repeat when you are worried. It can be simple – “We’ll figure it out later” or inspiring – “Everything passes, and it will pass.” The main thing is that the mantra works and has meaning for you.

3. Rest

Working without breaks or days off can lead to serious mental health problems such as burnout or constant fatigue. That is why you need to be able to switch and rest, and this can be done in the following ways.

Step away from problems

If you are worried about school, work, or family problems, focusing on them will only worsen your condition. Try to switch and distract yourself – listen to music or the latest episode of your favorite podcast, read a chapter in a book, flip through a magazine. This will allow you to calm down and return to business with a fresh mind.

Listen to your feelings

This will help special techniques from well-known meditation to simple breathing exercises. The next time you feel a surge of excitement, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Breathe in. Exhalation. Breathe in. Exhalation. After a couple of minutes, ask yourself how you are feeling. You will most likely notice that it has improved.

You can also try to quickly wiggle your toes several times. Your bodily sensations will allow you to come to your senses.

Be active

An active lifestyle makes us more energetic and improves our mood. And for stress, there is nothing more destructive than your sincere smile and positive.

You don’t have to be on your feet all day. Choose an active habit that you like. For example, jogging in the morning, walking in the evening, or cycling.

Stress and anxiety are not enemies – in small quantities, they can even be beneficial, because this is a natural defensive reaction of a person. But if they have become your constant companions, you have to do something about it.

The techniques described can help you control stress, deal with it, and emerge victorious from this battle. They open up a new life – fun, interesting and devoid of experiences.

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