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Stress triggers: how to control them

Mental Wellbeing

Deadlines, endless to-do lists, errands to run – what do they all have in common? Stress.

When you begin to feel any kind of demand, danger, or threat (regardless if they’re real or not), your body responds with the stress response, similar to the fight or flight response.

Good vs Bad Stress

Stress can sometimes be beneficial to some people – it can help you rise to meet challenges. It acts as that little push we need to get things done. It helps you stay on your toes during a presentation, gives you that extra burst of energy to score the winning goal and drives you to fold that last load of laundry when you would rather plop down on the couch.

However, when stress reaches a certain point, it stops being helpful and instead becomes harmful to our body and mind.

Your perception is key

What causes you stress depends on your perception of it. For example, some people get excited about flying while some people who do not like to fly may feel very stressed before their flight. 

How well you deal with stress can be affected by many factors:

  • Your support network

Having someone to lean on when you’re stressed can help you tremendously. Building a strong network of friends and/or family can prevent you from succumbing to stress.

  • Your sense of control

Self-confidence and your perspective on life can have a huge impact on your stress tolerance. If you are confident in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it could be easier to cope with stress. As you’re confident you’ll be able to tackle any obstacle.

  • Your attitude and outlook

You’ll be less vulnerable to stress if you’re generally hopeful and optimistic. Embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humour, believe in a higher purpose and accept change as an inevitable part of life.

  • Your ability to deal with your emotions

The ability to deal with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress. Figure out a routine you can follow to soothe yourself whenever you feel triggered, angry, sad or upset in any way.

How to control stress triggers

The key thing in stress prevention is recognising what is stressing you out. These situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stress triggers. This doesn’t always have to be a negative event – anything that feels demanding to you can be stressful.

It does not always come from an external factor either, stress can be generated internally when we worry too much over something that could happen, from a pessimistic attitude, or when we continually use negative self-talk.

While it is impossible to avoid all stress, there are several ways we can control them:

  • Practice relaxation techniques

Taking the time to relax in intervals throughout the day can help manage stress and protect your body from the physical impacts of stress. Try deep breathing and some mindfulness meditation. There are many apps nowadays that guide these techniques so why not try it on your next break?

  • Reduce stress triggers

There may be too many demands in your life and too little time to fulfil them all. For the most part, these demands are there because we chose them to be. Free up your time by practising time management skills and don’t shy away from asking for a little help. Set your priorities, pace yourself and reserve some time for yourself.

  • It’s okay to say no

Don’t be shy to say no to the demands that will place too much stress on you. You do not have to please everyone. Look after yourself first.

  • Set realistic goals and expectations

It is okay to realise that you cannot be 100% successful in everything you do all at once. Be mindful of the things that are within your control and the things that are not.

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