Stress Management: How to Reduce and Relieve Stress

featured image

Stress is the reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed upon them. If we do not tackle stress correctly, it leads to anxiety and depression.

Read on to learn more about the different types of stress and strategies to deal with them.

Exploring Sources of Stress

Sources of stress are categorised into External and Internal sources;

External Sources of Stress

External sources may be short, sudden or brief events, or they may be long term and last for months.

These are mostly out of our immediate control, but leave you with less mental energy to successfully deal with large amounts of stress when it hits. Examples of external sources of stress comprise of our:

  • Physical Environment
  • Social Interaction
  • Organisation / Work Structure
  • Major Life Events
  • Daily Hassles

Your external stresses take away or sap your mental energies to deal effectively with daily challenges.

Internal Sources of Stress

Internal sources of stress, which we can choose to refine on are our:

  • Lifestyle choices (Sleep, smoking, alcohol)
  • Negative versus Positive Self-Talk
  • Mind traps
  • Personality traits (Neuroticism, Perfectionism)

We need to remind ourselves that stress can have a positive effect, spurring motivation and awareness, providing the stimulation to cope with challenging situations. Everyone is different – we think and react to the same stress in different ways. There is no single level of stress that is optimal for all people.

  • Most of the negative stress we experience is self-generated.
  • We create most of our own upsets.
  • We can also turn those upsets around.

Strategies to Deal with Stress

Quick Stress Relief Techniques

When you suddenly feel stressed:

  1. Count to 10
  2. Take Deep Breaths – 3-5 times
  3. Walk Away from the Stressful Situation first – say you will handle it later
  4. Take time to go for a walk (Distraction)

The ABCs of Stress Management

When you have done so, take some time to think back about your stressful situation and manage it with ABCs:

A = AWARENESS (I am undergoing stress because my own processes are overwhelmed, or not working correctly)

B = BALANCE (There needs to be more positive stress than negative ones)

C = CONTROL/ CHANGE (What can I do to improve this?)

Taking Control & Managing Stress: What You Can Do

  1. Ventilation – tell someone you trust
  2. Humour – Laugh it off! – The funniest comedians take the worst situations and make it funny!
  3. Diversion/ Distraction – Do something you enjoy that gives you peace or good sleep.
  4. Diet – remember to eat in correct proportions and avoid excessive carbohydrates or caffeine.
  5. Exercise – running, swimming, or doing circuit training will take your mind off negative emotions and give you more “feel-good” hormones to help you manage how to react to stress.
  6. Sleep – Always aim for 6-8 hours of sleep to feel rested and recharged. Avoid sleeping too much as well.
  7. Religion – all religions preach mindfulness and tolerance via kindness. Choose your favourite passages, or favourite religious activities that give you a sense of purpose. Give thanks to others around you and be kind to others who may need your help.

Short Mental Exercise: Shape & Empower Minds

Write down (on a loose sheet of paper) what is bothering you, and the reasons why. Do this for 3 consecutive days. By forcing yourself to think critically and putting pen to paper, new viewpoints may emerge that may not have been possible if you had chosen to make an emotional decision.

After 3 days, throw away the pieces of paper. It is not worth holding on to old thoughts that cause you grief when you have already managed the situation.

Achieving Balance and Happiness

To manage your own stress and achieve happiness in life, remember that it is a combination of “pleasure” and “purpose” over time. Each one must be balanced well. However, if you find that despite all this, you are still suffering from too much stress and experiencing insomnia in the middle of the night for more than 2 weeks, do speak to a health professional.

DR+ Medical & Paincare East Coast

Led by Dr. Kwong Seh Meng, DR+ Medical & Paincare East Coast is a family clinic providing chronic disease and diabetes management, general paediatrics, men’s health, musculoskeletal pain and sports medicine, weight management, health screenings, statutory medical/ maid examinations, minor surgical procedures (lumps, bumps, warts), anonymous HIV testing and STD treatment, point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) and home care/ palliative care services.

Address: 146 East Coast Road, Singapore 428835

Contact number: +65 6320 0116