At some point we all experience stress in the workplace and at home. Experiencing stress is normal, but it’s how you respond to it that matters.
If you don’t have methods for relieving your stress and anxiety, it can impact your long-term health. Stress contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke. Stress is also a major contributor to mental health problems including depression and anxiety.
Men handle stress differently to women. Research shows that women are more likely to reach out to others when stressed to find a solution or share their predicament in a response called “tend and befriend”. Women therefore tend to feel more comfortable discussing personal issues and their feelings.
On the other hand, men often feel the psychological weight of stigma and are more likely to have a “fight or flight” response. Through not openly discussing feelings, causes men can internalise stress and bottle things up, or blow up and take it out on the people around them. It’s common for men to try to distract themselves from their stress by using activities and hobbies as an escape.
#1 Make Time to Exercise
Physical exercise is essential for good mental health. Exercise has been proven to be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration level and make you more mentally alert. That’s on top of the already well-known physical health benefits!
As a man, when stressed it’s easy to follow your first instinct to escape stress after work by watching Netflix on the couch with a drink in hand. This can become a cycle that feels hard to escape, but one of the best ways to break out of it is to set aside time every day to get some exercise. Even just getting out of the office at lunch and getting a 20-minute walk in the sun will have a noticeable effect on your stress levels.
Picking up an old sport or activity that you may have let drop off as you became increasingly stressed and time-poor is another good option. You might reconnect with old friends and make new ones, which leads us to stress management technique #2.
#2 Talk to Someone
Socialising with friends and family can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels. When you are socialising, your mind isn’t thinking about the stressful situations in your life. Socialising can give you a more positive outlook on life and the social groups can help your sense of belonging and self-worth.
One of the reasons men give for not talking, is that they feel admitting stress will make them look weak. Don’t be ashamed to open up with the people you trust and tell them you’re having a tough time. You may be surprised at the things other people are also dealing with behind the scenes, or have been through in the past that can help them lend a sympathetic ear.
Studies have found that people with few social connections are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Even if you can’t see friends face to face due to distance or time constraints, being in regular contact through messaging or calling can be just as beneficial. Make the time for friends and family and you will reap the benefits.
You can also talk to a qualified counsellor or psychologist. Find out if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program that includes access to counselling or visit the Beyond Blue site to find a suitable professional in your area.
#3 Stop the Procrastination
Many stressful situations in life arise because we procrastinate. If you find you are always doing things last minute or you’re often rushed and feeling like you are trying to catch up, chances are you procrastinate.
Take control by writing out everything you need to do and the deadline. Just the act of writing out your list can take it out of your head and help with your stress levels. Look at the list and decide which things are urgent and important. Give each task your full attention until it’s completed before moving on to the next most important item on your list. Soon you will doing tasks in a proactive mode rather than a stressed reactive one.
There are many reasons people procrastinate and it could be a symptom of stress, not just a cause. Resources like Solving Procrastination can help you to learn more about why you procrastinate and then give you proven techniques to get more done and reduce your stress.
#4 Change your Outlook, Change Your Life
Remember there are stressful events in life that are beyond your control. For example, there will always be annoying traffic jams but instead of getting frustrated and angry about wasting your time, look for a way to turn an uncontrollable situation into a more enjoyable one. Download some new music to listen to or find a podcast about a topic you have always wanted to learn. Rethinking your attitude and response to situations (any situations) is the key to reducing and even preventing stress. This is one of the key tools used in counselling and support techniques.
Having a ‘glass half full approach’ can make all the difference to your stress levels. Research shows that your beliefs about how stress affects you can be self fulfilling. Be aware of how you perceive stress, how you personally respond to it and take regular small actions to handle it. No one feels great 100% of the time so don’t expect the impossible from yourself.
Don’t forget to seek help from people close to you and speak to a mental health professional if you feel that your stress is overwhelming.
If you want to learn more strategies about handling your stress, call a qualified therapist at PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online