You can prevent stress by learning relaxation techniques, managing time properly, acquiring personal and economic resources, changing the interpretation of the facts and other strategies that I will explain later.
The word stress is quite modern and until recently it did not belong to the field of psychology, but to that of physics.
How to prevent stress
In 1974, the physiologist Hans Style said that the process of adapting people to difficult living conditions was like the pressure of large buildings, bridges or buildings.
He defined it as a human overload that depends on the intensity of the pressure that is suffered and the resources that the individual has to deal with. It is a state of activation and constant alert in the expectation that a problem or difficulty may arise at any time.
But stress is not always bad or counterproductive. It can be classified into two types:
- Positive stress. It is the one that appears when the person feels pressured, but interprets that the consequences of the situation can be favorable for him. The tension in this case acts as a motivating element. It is related to positive emotions such as joy or satisfaction.
- Negative stress . This type of stress is related to the anticipation of unpleasant consequences. In this case the voltage acts as a destabilizing element. It is related to negative emotions such as sadness, anger and although not in all cases, also with anxiety.
What situations cause stress?
Unlike the anxiety that can have its origin in ambiguous situations, the stress is related to very concrete situations. Some research indicates four characteristics of stressful situations:
- The changes. Modifications of situations or events that we suffer throughout life, whether for good or bad, lead to stress. For example, the birth of a child, the change of job or a move is situations of change that can cause it.
- The interruption. When something important in our life ends abruptly preventing us from adapting adequately to the new situation that is generated, stress may appear. For example before the rupture of a relationship.
- The conflict. It can cause high discomfort and high levels of stress. In addition to solving the situations that appear before the conflict carries a great emotional wear and tear.
- The defenselessness. When the resources or strategies that we routinely use to deal with the difficulties do not work, the person feels helpless and without resources. This can occur in situations such as an irreversible disease or a natural disaster.
There are other classifications such as that of the psychologist Sylvan S. Tomkins, one of the most important researchers in the field of emotions, who indicates three types of stressful situations depending on what causes them:
- Damage or loss. The problem has already occurred and you have to respond to it.
- Threat. The problem has not yet occurred but everything indicates that it will be triggered imminently.
- Challenge. The individual is going to face a situation that he believes he can overcome.
And another way to classify stressful situations is the one indicated by the psychologist Francisco Labrador, who categorizes them according to the following aspects:
- Intense and extraordinary vital events.
- Events of the daily life of less intensity.
- Situations of sustained chronic tension.
In any case stressful situations are not for all people equally or with the same level of intensity. This varies depending on the resources and forms of coping of each individual.
The orientation of the so-called cognitive-behavioral psychology is based on the premise that it is not the situations themselves that cause us discomfort, but is the way in which each perceives and interprets that situation.
Therefore, the things we say when we face them are the ones that will make us feel one way or another. Therefore, in the same event, each person lives it differently.
Ways to Prevent Stress
Here are some easy and simple ways we can put it in practice to prevent the onset of stress:
1- Identify the causes of stress
Reflect on the situations or events that cause it. Knowing when the discomfort appears can help you control it, either by changing the situation or by changing the way you deal with it.
2- Learn to say NO
On many occasions we are overloaded with more tasks or activities than we can cover. When asked by relatives, colleagues or supervisors to perform some tasks we say yes, when deep down we know we do not have time, or we do not know how to do it and this is going to generate discomfort.
Accepting these tasks increases our nervousness and stress level. Learning to say not adequately and assertively will contribute to greatly improve our mental and physical health.
3- Avoid toxic people
In recent times this name has been used a lot to refer to people who exert a negative force on the environment. They spend the day complaining, criticizing and in a bad mood, without bringing anything positive and acting on us as if they took our energy.
When we have to share time, for example at work, with such a person is best to get away from it so that we do not end up contagious. If it cannot get away you try to “filter” the things it transmits to you to affect you as little as possible. Accepting the fact that you are facing a toxic person can help you not internalize everything that you transmit.
4- Practice relaxation techniques
Techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation help us, among other things, to decrease the level of physical and mental activation and to relax the muscles of the body.
By definition the state of relaxation is contrary to that of activation, that is, we cannot be activated and relaxed at the same time. If you cannot go to teach some of these modalities you can learn some of the relaxation techniques and practice at home, at work, etc. Once you learn to do it the right way is internalized and is a resource that we can use anytime we feel discomfort.
5- Change the interpretation you make of what happens
As we indicated before, one of the main sources of malaise is ourselves and our thoughts. There is no doubt that in life there are really difficult situations that we have to go through, but in most cases we give these situations the category of threats or terrible circumstances when in reality they are not.
In interpreting this situation as a threat our body activates and prepares to flee from it in proportion to the value we give it. That is, if we are afraid to speak in public, and interpret it as a really terrible situation our body will start to have an activation response as if we had to escape from a lion in the savannah.
We begin to feel palpitations, stomach pain, sweating, tremors, etc. But the reality is that the “public speaking” situation does not require our body to respond in this way.
If we perceive the situation as neutral or think we may be uncomfortable talking to people, but this discomfort will last only a few seconds, the level of discomfort is going to be reduced considerably.
6- Practice positive thinking
Numerous studies show that people who maintain a positive attitude on a daily basis are happier and experience less stress.
Also when a difficulty arises they have more resources to face it. Maintaining a positive and open attitude allows for more alternatives and solutions when a problem arises.
7- Start managing your time properly
Often it causes us greater discomfort to think about all the things we have to do throughout the day or all the tasks that we have pending to do them.
In these cases it is very convenient to have an agenda or notebook in which to plan the time that we are going to dedicate to each activity.
It is not the same to think that we have to go to work, to make the purchase, to pick up the children, to finish a presentation for tomorrow, to make the dinner, etc. to visualize it at specific times.
For example, from 9 to 16 works, at 16.30 pickup children, from 17 to 18 make the purchase, from 18 to 20 finishes the presentation, at 20 make dinner.
In addition to having it organized and in writing frees up space of the mind to dedicate it to other activities and not to be constantly thinking about the next thing that needs to be done or with the fear of forgetting to perform some of the tasks.
8- Divide problems or tasks into smaller parts
When confronted with a problem or task that is made up of several points or sections, it is convenient to divide it and begin to address each point separately.
Facing the problem in a global way can overwhelm us and leave us blocked. For example if we have to do a job for the university and try to tackle everything at once we do not know where to start or how to approach it.
If we divide it into parts (introduction, procedure, conclusions) and face each one independently focusing on solving them one by one will be much easier to address.
9- Finish with perfectionism
Most people like to perform a task as well as possible and strive to achieve it. But in some cases this goes further and even when things are well done they do not perceive it like that, they are never happy with the result and they do it and redo it several times until they consider it appropriate.
This behavior generates a lot of stress; firstly because they never seem to be happy with what they do, they never seem good enough. And on the other hand, they invest a lot of time in a task because they review and modify it several times.
That time is being subtracted from what they need to do other tasks with the nervousness that this generates. It is convenient to learn to distinguish between doing good things and pathological perfectionism, which far from being a good thing harms us in our day to day.
10- Use the sense of humor and laughter
Maintaining a good attitude and sense of humor has many benefits. It not only lowers the stress level but also improves relationships with others.
We all prefer to surround ourselves with people who smile, who are usually relaxed and who take things with humor. If you act in this way you create a good environment that allows us to face difficulties more effectively.
11- Do not try to control the uncontrollable
Many times we try to control what is not in our hands. For example, the behavior of the boss, the behavior of a partner, the traffic or bad weather.
These are things that can generate a high degree of stress and discomfort but it is not in our hands to modify them.
Instead of trying to control them we can direct our efforts in controlling how they affect or influence us.
It has been shown that practicing exercise on a regular basis decreases levels of stress and anxiety among other things.
In many occasions we use the excuse of not having time, but if we organize well it is easy to find a moment to go out for a few minutes, walk or swim.
13- Healthy eating
What we eat is what gives the energy to our body. If we feed properly the energy we are giving it is adequate to deal with the day to day.
14- To sleep sufficient hours and of adequate way
When we are tired we experience higher levels of stress. It is essential to sleep enough hours and also with quality so that you can rest your mind and body and be prepared to face the day.