What Are Some Common Techniques For Stress Management?

Updated January 24, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It can be common to feel stressed out by different situations, people, or stimuli in your environment. While some degree of stress is normal, and even healthy, experiencing too much of it can lead to negative outcomes and cause you to feel overwhelmed. Learning healthy methods of stress management can allow you to live a more productive, fulfilling lifestyle despite the obstacles put in your path. 

Are You Struggling To Find Relief From Stress?

What Is Stress Management?

When events around you trigger your fight-or-flight response, you’ll often naturally feel stressed until you can leave the situation or do something about it. Modern life presents us with many such challenges in daily life and during traumatic events that we may encounter. Removing yourself from a situation or fixing it isn’t always an option, and you can begin to develop both physical and mental health problems without solutions. In these cases, having stress management techniques you can turn to can make the difference between emotional distress and a sense of calmness.  

Stress management encompasses a variety of techniques used to prepare for stressful situations, cope with events as they happen, and deal with their aftermath. In short, they help us stay calm and clear-minded. They improve our functioning during life's greatest challenges and through the ordinary stresses that may come up each day. Although you may not practice the full spectrum of stress management techniques, the complete stress management definition includes them all.

Stress Management Activities

Sometimes, simple stress management tips aren’t effective. You might be experiencing higher levels of stress that require advanced techniques to find relief. These could include activities, hobbies, exercises, classes, books, videos, therapeutic approaches, and more. Consider trying and implementing the following strategies into your routine: 

  • Deep breathing exercises - Breathing in a slow, controlled way can help your body handle stress more effectively. At the same time, you can choose to focus your mind on your breathing, which may allow you to think less about the stressors you’re facing. Breathing techniques include belly breathing, breathing and holding, and breathing slowly and steadily while counting to a specific number.

  • Meditation - Regular meditation can result in a lower baseline of stress. You can learn to start your day feeling calm so that when stressors come, you end up at a lower net stress level. Learning meditation takes time, and people usually need to follow guided meditations at first. You don't have to eliminate all thoughts from your mind. Instead, you can notice thoughts and then let them pass by without holding onto them.

  • Guided imagery - You can find guided imagery recordings or work with a counselor who practices this stress management technique. The guide's slow, gentle voice can help keep you grounded, and the narration they provide often allows you to lose yourself temporarily in a pleasant imaginary world where stress doesn't exist.

  • Stress journal – You may choose to start a journal where you record your thoughts about stress and stress management, both in general terms and in terms of your own stressors.

  • Mindfulness - Mindfulness means being aware of your environment as well as your actions within it. Try focusing on the sights, sounds, sensations, aromas, and tastes present to you at this moment. This helps keep you in the here and now as you allow your worries about the future and regrets about the past to fade.

Stress Management Group Activities

  • Deep breathing - You can participate in stress management group activities that include a component of deep breathing. Many yoga classes begin and/or end with deep breathing exercises. The group leader gives the instructions, telling you when to breathe in, when to hold, and when to release the breath. Many other types of group activities begin the same way.

  • Popping a straw - This is a group exercise that releases built-up tension. You simply take a straw, twist it until a bubble forms in the center, and then have someone smack the bubble to pop it. The loud noise startles the group, providing a sudden burst of relief. You can also have a bubble-wrap popping party as an alternative activity.

  • Passing cups of water - Everyone stands in a circle except the group leader, who stands aside to give directions and fill cups. They fill the first cup half full and give it to a group who then passes it clockwise around the circle. More cups are added; then some cups filled three-quarters full are added. The group naturally begins passing the cups faster. At some point, the leader suddenly yells 'Stop!' Everyone tries to stop as quickly as they can, and water tends to go everywhere, releasing built-up tension.

Developing A Long-Term Stress Management Strategy

The above methods are only a few of the many stress management techniques that have been used in a variety of settings. To put some of them to use in your life, it can be helpful to develop an overall stress management strategy.

You can start by learning more about stress. Find out what causes it, how it affects your mind and body, and how stress management can improve your life. Gather a list including every stress management technique you find online, hear from friends, read about in books, or learn from your therapist. Then, take those that help and leave behind those that don’t. If you’re already doing something that reduces your stress levels, continue to rely on it, but don’t let it hold you back from trying new techniques either.

Practicing Stress Management Techniques

It may not bring many benefits if you simply know about stress management techniques but don't know how to put them to use. Many stress techniques might not seem natural to you at first, but with practice, you can learn how to get more positive outcomes. A therapist can function as a leader and observer, giving you instructions to help you improve your use of techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

Other Stress Management Tips

Sometimes a few simple stress management tips can make all the difference in your ability to cope with everyday stressors. Try these suggestions to help you manage your stress on your own or with the help of a therapist.

  • Get the right amount of sleep - Too little rest may set your nerves on edge and give you difficulties with concentration.

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and sugar - Coffee, nicotine, and energy drinks can keep you tense and make it hard to calm down when in a stressful situation. Alcohol may seem to make you feel calmer at first, but the overall effect is often poorer functioning. When you aren't at peak performance, challenges may seem even more stressful. Too much sugar can boost your energy too quickly and then send you into a crash later. This can make you feel sluggish and unable to manage small tasks.

  • Get physical - Exercise helps relieve tension. If the thought of going to the gym makes you cringe, try taking a long walk or playing a sport instead.

  • Get into nature - Research shows that being in a natural environment can improve the body's functioning and decrease stress levels.

  • Have a heart-to-heart with a friend - Talking to a friend can help with stress management in two ways. First, it gives you a chance to release tension that has built up during the day. Second, you can talk about other things to distract yourself from the stress.

  • Take a class or read a book about time management - When you manage your time effectively, your day might seem less rushed. Tasks may feel easier to accomplish, and your schedule can become more manageable.

  • Don't say 'yes' to everything - Saying 'no' when you need to can keep you from overbooking your schedule. You may need help learning to say 'no' if you feel obligated to do everything that's asked of you. If you are afraid people won't like you when you say 'no,' building up your self-esteem can help you feel confident enough to say 'no' when needed.

Are You Struggling To Find Relief From Stress?

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

You can get help learning how to cope with stress through the Anxiety and Stress Management Institute or some other mental health facility where stress management is taught. However, such a program may tie you to a specific location. It can take time to get there and more time to keep up with an intensive program. If you’re facing barriers to traditional therapy, online counseling may be a resource to consider using. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that offers services via your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. You can choose when and where to get connected and learn new strategies for managing your stress alongside someone who has experience with these types of concerns. 

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Those looking for stress relief may benefit from online counseling. In a study of 264 employees with elevated symptoms of stress, researchers found that a web- and mobile-based intervention was effective in reducing their stress long term. They concluded that “Internet-based stress management interventions should be further pursued as a valuable alternative to face-to-face interventions.”

The Takeaway

Stress management can look different for everyone. Although there are recommended ways to go about relieving your stress, what works for one person may not work for another. You can explore different avenues of stress management to find what works most effectively for you. Working with an online therapist may help you experience relief from stress from the comfort of your home. 

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