Probably, there is no more common and, at the same time, more controversial scientific concept than the concept of stress. Everyone knows a lot about stresses, everyone regularly experiences stresses and everyone has own special stress management techniques. However, every person defines and understands stresses in a special way. Why is this so? First of all, there is no clear and comprehensive definition of stresses offered and accepted in modern scientific circles. Besides, potential stressful conditions can evoke different feelings and reactions in different people.
In this context, the majority of stresses can be compared to a roller coaster ride: some people always enjoy it a lot, and for some people such ride does not bring any pleasure or positive emotions. A job interview is another good example of potentially stressful conditions: some people feel very nervous and stressed out before talking to potential employers, but some people do take pleasure of such a challenge. Therefore, every person has own understanding of stresses, own reactions on stressful conditions and own strategies of coping with stresses and stress related problems.
Before opening my own secrets of stress management, I consider it necessary to specify the types of stresses and stressful conditions we have to face in our life. Some of the stresses are short-term or acute (which usually affect our mind for some short period of time), and some are continuous or chronic (which affect our mind and psychological condition for a long period of time). There are so called positive stresses, which can boost our inspiration and increase our physical activity, and negative stresses (distresses), which cause feelings of discomfort, anxiety, apathy, etc.
Also, there are so called hyperstresses, connected with the conditions which are hard for a person to handle. Hyperstresses always cause very strong emotional responses and can be quite dangerous to our health. I am convinced that in order to select the most effective stress management tactic or techniques, it is very important to understand the type and the nature of the stresses we are facing. For example, such treatments as cognitive-behavior therapy, meditation, relaxation, yoga, looking for ways to avoid or get adapted to the stressful conditions can assist in combating chronic stresses and be very helpful in the long run.
At the same time, coping with acute stresses requires such stress management techniques, which can help a person to get focused and concentrated immediately. For several years, I was feeling stressed out because of my hard studying. When I was living in my hometown and studying in school, my parents used to be very much concerned about my future. Under their permanent control, I was getting ready for entering college and even had to study the materials beyond the academic program of high school. This everything was really stressful and exhausting to me.
I had to constantly struggle with my lessons and sometimes I was having problems with meeting the deadlines or receiving good grades, especially in physics and math. When I entered college, the pressure related to my studying increased. The lessons and exams required more time for preparation and I always had to try harder and harder. For some time I was simply overwhelmed with the nervous tension I had to experience, but soon I realized that endless studying under pressure does not bring to anything good but stresses and continuous restlessness.
Therefore, I took some time to think over the problem and created a complex stress management strategy for myself, which included such methods as regular rest and relaxation exercises, making time for some outdoor leisure activities and changing my personal attitude to studying. I decided to look for ways to avoid stressful conditions and take control of the situation. First of all, I tried to improve my time management skills and started using schedules, making my daily to-do-lists, setting up some time limits for my usual daily activities, and so on.
Also, I decided to do regular morning exercises and get involved in a lot of outdoor physical activities like walking and jogging. This everything helped me a lot not only to reduce the effects of stresses and achieve greater academic success, but also become more organized and physically fit. In addition to that, during my first year in college, I was under effect of one more long-term chronic stress. It was taking source from my separation from the family and good old school friends.
Actually, I was not too much of a sociable person and inability to make new friends easily made me feel lonely. Moreover, being far away from home and seeing no familiar faces around me was frequently making me homesick. That is why sometimes I was feeling really stressed out and helpless, because all the students around seemed to be busy with their lessons and their own problems. Combined with the pressure coming from my studying, the stressful conditions I had to face were really hard. Therefore, I started looking for ways to alter the situation and change myself.
I realized that in order to attract new people I had to develop some new skills, open some new talents in me or get involved in some new interesting social activities. In particular, I started getting interested in basketball and looking for the opportunities to visit the games of our college basketball team. I was lucky to meet new people, who opened some secrets of this game to me and became my good friends. Also, I learned playing guitar and these new skills turned into a social catalyst which helps to gather people around me.
Besides, another effective technique used to assist me greatly in stress management and being always optimistic in that situation. I was sharing my problems, thoughts and worries with a close friend of mine, a girl who lived in my hometown. We used to chat online or write e-mails to each other, and her support and good advice always had very positive effects on my psychological condition. Undoubtedly, talking to a friend or a psychologist is a perfect way to reduce stresses, receive a fresh look on the circumstances and find more of effective anti-stress solutions.
In addition to the above, I have to say that certain situations in my life made me learn to deal with acute stresses as well. I always feel very much stressed out and worried before and especially during the exams. Many times while sitting in the classroom and working on my exam questions I could feel that my excessive anxiety and nervousness did not allow me to focus and get concentrated on the questions. Such type of stressful conditions requires an immediate solution which can help to pull myself together.
The technique I always use to calm down my anxiety during the exams is called deep breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing). It means sitting back for a moment, relaxing all body muscles and taking 5-6 slow deep breathes. This way my body receives extra oxygen and stimulates my brain to releasing more of tranquilizing endorphins. Deep breathing helps to instantly calm down, relieve stress related anxiety and tension, and I think that this method is an ideal and universal way to reduce the effects of acute stresses. This technique can be effectively used by anyone at any time and place.
Unfortunately, stresses are an integral part of our life and it is impossible to eliminate all the stressors and stressful conditions once and for all. At the same time, it is in our own hands to keep our emotions and responses on stressful conditions under control. That is why every modern person, who really wants to advance and succeed in this life, should master the most effective stress management techniques and know how to reduce negative effects of stresses, as well as be always ready to meet the challenges, be emotionally balanced and responsible in any situation.