What Is Stress Management? (Plus 8 Helpful Techniques)

A successful looking woman sits at her desk. She is rubbing her temples and looking stressed out.

Growing up, I never realized the brutal impact that stress would have on my life until it was already too late.  

I used to think that I handled stress well, and never considered what I was currently doing to manage my stress in order to keep it at a healthy level.  

It wasn’t until 2021, when I started getting overwhelmed, which quickly lead to full-on panic attacks and then straight to burnout, that I began to realize the negative impact that stress can have on our lives if we aren’t careful.  

Since then I have learned that while it may seem brave to simply put your head down and keep going, that can often lead to much greater problems down the road.  

The key to managing stress is to focus on taking the best care of yourself using self-care tools and activities, coping skills, and stress management techniques.  

What is stress?  

According to the World Health Organization, stress is a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. It is our body’s natural response to threats or difficult situations that we encounter in our lives.

What is stress management? 

Stress management is a group of strategies, tools, and resources that are created to help us control the level of stress we experience.

These strategies are designed to help lower either acute stress—extremely stressful situations we might suddenly find ourselves in, or chronic stress- the kind that builds up over time.  

We can never fully eliminate stress, but by managing it effectively, we can change how it affects us. 

What is a stress bucket? 

A stress bucket is a metaphor that I created while trying to explain stress and how it can affect us.  

I like to think everyone has a “stress bucket” in their life. Everyone’s buckets are all different sizes based on our personalities, lifestyles, or past experiences (such as trauma), and some people’s buckets have less or more room for stress. 

Whenever something stressful happens in our lives it gets added to the bucket. And whenever we participate in stress management, something gets removed from the bucket. 

 If we don’t participate in stress management, eventually that bucket will overflow—and that is when overwhelm and burnout happens. 

A bucket to represent stress

What causes stress? 

Many different situations can cause stress in our lives, but some of the most common ones are: 

Relationships 

  • Going through a breakup or a divorce 
  • Fighting with a loved one 
  • Getting married 
  • Toxic relationships 

Our health

  • Illness 
  • Injury 
  • Trying to improve our health 
  • Weight gain

Work

  • Starting a new job or losing a job 
  • Friction with co-workers 
  • Difficult managers or employees 
  • Unexpected changes 

Finances 

  • Worrying about money 
  • Loss of income 
  • Feeling trapped in debt 
  • Living in poverty 

And so much more!

What are the effects of stress?  

There can be so many negative effects on our body and mind when it comes to stress, however, some of the most common effects of stress are:  

  • Heart attacks 
  • Diabetes 
  • Stroke 
  • Anxiety 
  • Obesity 
  • Hair loss 
  • Depression 
  • Heart conditions 
  • Burnout 
  • Ulcers 

How to manage stress 

Some examples of stress management strategies include:

1) Increased self-care 

Increasing our self-care activities and developing healthy self-care routines enables us to relax and unwind. This will help to stop our “stress bucket” from overflowing.  

Taking better care of ourselves can make such a positive difference in our lives, and can prevent chronic stress and overwhelm from ever happening. 

Some of the following things on this list can also be included in self-care, but I felt it was important to single them out anyways. 

2) Eating healthier 

When we eat healthier, it increases our physical health which helps to make us more resilient to stress.  

3) Getting enough sleep 

A lack of sleep can make us much more irritable and prone to mood swings, couple that with any stress we may be experiencing and it can be a recipe for disaster.  

4) Therapy 

If you are having trouble managing your stress, therapy is a wonderful resource. Mental health professionals are able to give you specific advice and tools you may need based on your own situation. They can also help you develop better coping skills. 

5) Social support 

Friends and family can be wonderful to lean on in times of stress. Just having someone to vent about your stress to can make all the difference in the world.  

6) Journaling 

Journaling can be wonderful for stress relief. By writing about your stress, and anything difficult you have been through, it might be easier for you to process and let go of that stress instead of holding onto it. 

You can even try specific journal prompts for stress relief.

7) Coping skills 

Coping skills are a quick fix to help you deal with the stress you are feeling at that moment. They aren’t meant to fix your problems, but they will help you get to a better place until you have the space and skills to fix the problem.

8) Eliminate causes of stress 

Many times stress is inevitable, but sometimes you might be able to cut out or reduce the causes of your stress. For example, going no contact with someone in your life who is toxic, will help to reduce the amount of stress you are currently experiencing.

You do not have to let stress cause such a negative effect on you. By learning effective stress management techniques, you can live a much happier and healthier life.

FAQS about stress…

Can happy events cause stress for us? 

Absolutely. There are times in life when situations and happy moments or events can still cause us stress. For example, getting married can take a lot of planning, preparation, and money for one special day. And a lot can go wrong.

It can be overwhelming which causes stress.  

How can I tell when I’m stressed?

Stress affects everyone in a different way, however, when we experience stress we may start to experience physical symptoms.  

Some of these include headaches, body aches, irritability, intense mood swings, trouble controlling our emotions, and brain fog. 

How can I ensure stress won’t affect me anymore?

Unfortunately, I don’t believe it is possible to be completely unaffected by stress. However, by utilizing stress management techniques and learning all about self-care, we can reduce the effect that stress has on us, and become more resilient to future stress. 

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