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National Tertiary Education Union

IN BRIEF:

Stress. We all experience it, some more frequently than others, and although excessive stress is bad for you, both physically and emotionally, stress is often inevitable. In order to minimise the negative effects of stress, you have to learn to manage it.

We had a look at five old-fashioned stress remedies to weigh up whether these are worth incorporating into a modern lifestyle to better manage your stress.

1. Using a stress ball

A popular stress remedy has always been the stress ball, a little rubber ball that can fit strategically into the palm of your hand to squeeze in times of stress. When we are stressed, our bodies (especially in the neck and shoulder region) tend to tense up like tightly coiled springs. By squeezing and releasing a stress ball, we are able to relieve some of that anxious energy and tension. Although not a long-term solution, stress balls can help us to decrease both muscular and emotional tension and are a convenient ‘anytime, anywhere’ devise.

2. Venting

Some people who are put under great stress believe that they can only manage their stress by venting or ‘letting off steam’. Although talking about the challenges you are facing is a good way to do this, it is important not to let your venting escalate to where it causes physical or emotional harm to others. Social support is a crucial way to deal with tension and it can be therapeutic to discuss the things that cause stress in your life. Not only will this help to dissipate the stress energy, it may help you to verbalise coping methods to prevent the stress building up again in the future.

3. Taking a deep breath

Although it may sound like a cliché, taking a deep breath can significantly help you in times of stress. According to Dr David Posen, stress expert and author of Is Work Killing You?, breathing changes the homeostasis of the body and signals it to relax. In this way, by taking a few deep breaths and focusing on this process, you signal a relaxation response to your body. It is well worth adding some deep breathing techniques to your stress remedy toolkit.

4. Getting active

Almost any type of exercise can act as a powerful stress reliever. Not only can exercise act as a distraction from any of life’s worries, getting active also helps to boost your endorphins, which is often referred to as having ‘a runner’s high’. Exercise, such as laps around a track or in a swimming pool, has meditative properties, too. Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress and anxiety.

5. Giving yourself a time out

Giving yourself a time out from a task that is causing stress is a useful way of managing the build up of stress, and allows for you to take a moment to collect, re-group mentally, and continue more productively with the job at hand.

Most people don’t realise exactly how much stress they are under. When there are deadlines, crises, excessive demands, illness, and situations we think we can’t cope with, we accurately recognise that we are stressed. But when stress is prolonged, we get so used to it that we don’t even notice it. Try some of these old-fashioned stress remedies the next time you feel stressed at work and see if they work for you.