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How to manage stress in a challenging situation?

Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, and as a working mother, you are likely to experience it more frequently than others, so the question is how to handle it in a way that does not harm your well-being. In this article, I will share three practical tips on how to manage stress when you are in a frustrating situation and don't want to get overwhelmed or triggered by anxiety or anger. You can also check out my previous article to learn how to proactively fight against stress and create a balanced and stress-reduced life.

Before exploring different techniques to apply right at the moment, let's discuss what stress is.

It is a feeling of emotional and physical tension that can arise from any real event, thought, or perception that makes you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, or nervous. Everyone reacts to stress differently based on their personality, education, and environment.

We have learned different coping mechanisms to deal with stress, which is why someone may snap at others, another may become extremely anxious and burst out crying, and a third may want to escape from the situation. Although stress can manifest in different ways, one very important common theme is that it is not good for you in the long term.

In the short term, stress will activate the fight or flight response, which helps our senses to become sharper and we will be more focused, we will switch into crisis mode. This can be extremely useful in dealing with challenges such as an angry manager, a crying toddler, or a tight project deadline.

That is the tricky part, that we are great at crisis mode, so when we are under constant stress, we will manage difficult situations like superheroes. But magic always comes with a price - you can't live your life on adrenalin, you will get exhausted very quickly mentally and physically, and it can lead to burnout or other physical and mental illnesses.

The best would be not to deal with stress at all or just occasionally - but that is almost impossible with our high-paced lifestyle, so let's look at some tips on managing stress during difficult situations.

1. Breathe

It sounds too good to be true, but focusing on your breathing is the immediate solution to control the physical symptoms of stress, which will help you to release emotional tension. When we are stressed, our body responds in various ways - our heart beats faster, muscles tense up, blood pressure rises, and our breathing becomes rapid. By inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, you can slow down your breath and release tension in your shoulders. This sends a message to your brain that you are safe and can calm down. You can repeat this process a few times until you feel relaxed. The connection between our mind and body is truly remarkable, don't you think?

2. Ask for time

It is the most simple and effective trick to give yourself permission to leave a stressful situation, if possible, and take some time for yourself. For example, if you are feeling stressed due to your child's behavior, step out of the room to cool down, as long as your child is safe. If you receive a frustrating email at work, it's best to close it and reply later, preferably the next day after gaining some distance from the triggering message. If your manager asks something that stresses you out, tell them you would like to consider it and discuss it next time.

This approach may not work in every situation, but it can be helpful in many cases. By removing yourself from the situation and taking time for yourself, you can avoid reacting impulsively and gain a fresh perspective. Who said you need to react immediately?

3. Small tips

If you find yourself in a stressful situation, there are some simple things you can do to help calm your body and mind.

  • One classic technique is to silently count from 10 to 1 in your head.

  • You can also shift your focus by listing 10 green objects in your surroundings.

  • Drinking chamomile tea is another way to relax, and it's easy to do at home or in the office kitchen.

  • If you feel like crying, don't hold back - crying can be a great way to release tension.

  • Taking a walk outside for 10-20 minutes can also reduce significantly your stress level.

  • Talking to someone you trust and letting it all out can also make a huge difference.

  • And if you feel like you need to release tension in a more physical way, try shouting or singing as loudly as you can.

I hope these tips are useful for you.

Do you have any other best practices you'd like to share?

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