How To Master Emotional Intelligence Chapter 6 – Learn How To Destress Yourself
Do you feel that too much pressure and demands are weighing on you? Are you losing sleep worrying about tests and schoolwork? Are you eating on the run because your schedule is just too busy? You are not alone. Everyone feels stressed sometimes – adults, teens and even kids. But you can avoid getting too stressed by dealing with everyday stresses and problems, staying calm, asking for help when you need it, and taking time to relax.
What is stress? Stress is a reaction to pressure or threat. Under stress, we may feel tense, nervous, or irritable. The stress response is also physical. Stress triggers an increase in a hormone called adrenaline, which temporarily affects the nervous system. When you are nervous or stressed, you may feel your heartbeat or breathing speed up, your palms sweat, or your knees shake. The stress response is also called the fight-or-flight response. It’s an automatic response that prepares us to deal with danger. But a situation does not have to be physically dangerous to activate the stress response.
Even everyday stresses can trigger it. For example, you might feel stress before taking an exam or giving a paper, facing a tough opponent in sports, or going on stage. Even in these situations (where it’s hardly a matter of life and death), the stress response is activated to help you perform well under pressure. It can help you face a challenge and meet it with alertness, focus, and strength. Facing these challenges – rather than shying away from them – is part of learning and growing. When the challenge is over, the stress response subsides. You can relax and recharge, and you are ready for a new challenge. When stress does not subside
Stress does not always arise in response to things that are immediate and quickly over. Ongoing or long-term events, such as coping with a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can also cause stress.
Long-term stressful situations can lead to ongoing, low-level stress that causes a person to feel tired or overwhelmed. Finding ways to cope with the difficult situation can prevent this and reduce ongoing stress. Sometimes people need help to deal with difficult situations that lead to intense or persistent stress.
Keep Stress Under Control. Here are some things that can help keep stress under control: Resist excessive scheduling. If you feel overloaded, eliminate one or two activities and choose only those that are most important to you. Be realistic. Do not try to be perfect – no one is. Do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you need help, such as with schoolwork or coping with a loss, ask for it. Get plenty of sleep. Adequate sleep keeps your body and mind in tip-top shape, so you are better able to deal with negative stressors. Because the biological “sleep clock” shifts during puberty, many teens prefer to stay up a little longer at night and sleep a little later in the morning. But if you stay up late and still have to get up early for school, you may not be getting all the hours of sleep you need. Learn to relax. The body’s natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It is the opposite of stress, namely a feeling of well-being and calm.
You can activate the relaxation response by simply relaxing. Learn and practice simple breathing exercises and use them when you are in stressful situations. Make time for fun. Schedule time for activities you enjoy – read a good book, play with your pet, laugh, pursue a hobby, do art or music, spend time with positive people, or get out in nature.
Treat your body well. Exercise regularly and eat healthy to keep your body functioning at its best. When you are stressed, it’s easy to eat on the run or eat junk food. But under stressful conditions, you need good nutrition more than ever.
Find the positives. Your outlook, attitude and thoughts affect the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the most of stressful circumstances – and even recognize that you have learned something from the situation. Solve the small problems. Take action to solve problems that come up. For example, if you are stressed about homework, assess the situation and figure out how to manage it better.
Build positive relationships. Knowing that there are people who believe in us strengthens our ability to deal with challenges. Ask for help and support when you need it. Share what you are going through – even the good things that happen. You can do something to manage the stress that comes with each new challenge, good or bad. Stress management skills work best when practiced in advance, rather than when the pressure is on. When you know how to “de-stress” and calm yourself, you can better handle difficult situations.
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