Who doesn’t want some stress relief? Whether it’s work deadlines, traffic, or just plodding along without enough free time, a ton of people are up to their eyeballs in stress. There are many ways and methods people use to provide themselves with temporary stress relief. According to the APA 2015 Stress In America Report, the six most common stress relief activities include:
- Listening to music (46 percent)
- Exercising or walking (43 percent)
- Surfing the Internet/going online (40 percent)
- Watching television or movies for more than two hours per day (39 percent)
- Reading (35 percent)
- Spending time with family (35 percent)
Many of these methods can keep stress at bay and contribute to overall health, but they are only one side of the coin. Instead of just trying to relieve stress, people need to focus on preventing and managing stress. If your own unique causes of stress are not managed effectively, your stress relief efforts can only go so far. And high stress levels can still impact your overall health, both physically and mentally. A key to preventing your stress over time is to create an awareness of what triggers stress in your life. Since stress is highly individual and to a large degree based on our perceptions of events, emotions, and our own thoughts, understanding your individual way of reacting to your triggers can be extremely helpful. Awareness of the issues and thoughts that trigger your stress response allows for a deeper understanding of them and an opportunity to change your perceptions and responses. Once you have an awareness of what is triggering your stress response, you can employ a few tactics. You can work towards eliminating the direct cause of your stress, change how you perceive or frame the triggers, or use your newly acquired Breathe, Move, Pause tools to effectively manage the stressors when change is not possible.
So it is not an either or scenario when it comes to stress relief and stress management. Use a variety of techniques and continue to be curious about what triggers you. Finding healthy ways to alleviate the stress of your daily life and staying healthy is one side of the coin, while creating awareness, changing your framing, and when possible, eliminating stressors, is the other. By focusing on both sides of the coin you may find that your days go by just a little bit easier and that you have the energy and insight to handle the bigger issues that are sure to arise in your life.