Dealing with stress in a healthy way - How the right coping strategies make you strong in everyday life

Once again you are caught in rush hour traffic and the time to your appointment is running out. Will you make it on time? The workday was so intense that Du forgot about lunch. While everyone settles down at the table to eat dinner together and exchange stories from everyday life, you go through your open to-do list. Just before the movie starts, you quickly type a work-related email into your mobile phone. You probably know this or similar scenes from your life. What a stress!

Maybe sometimes you dream of a life without stress. And every now and then things go really well, but then the stress hits again. Maybe you annoy DI think that you still haven't managed to banish stress from your life forever. If you know this or similar trains of thought.

Here's some good news for you: you don't have to get rid of stress! It is an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. We can't eliminate it but we can find a healthy way to deal with it. There is no trick to it. Anyone can learn it and the three pillars of stress management according to Kaluza are a valuable support.

The three pillars of stress management

Especially when we are stressed, we often feel overwhelmed and do not know what we could do. Here, the three pillars of stress management offer a good orientation and starting points for improvement.

Stressorgen

The first pillar of stress management is dedicated to stressors. With the question: "What situations, things or people in my life are stressing me out?"you can get to the bottom of them. Frequently mentioned stressors are too much work or too high performance requirements, conflicts in relationships or time pressure. An inventory gives you an overview.

In a further step you can check whether there are possibilities to get rid of stressors. Maybe it is possible to hand over work, for example? Maybe you can cancel less important appointments to create free space? Maybe you can also have a clarifying conversation to clear up a conflict? 

Personal stress amplifiers

But not always we have the possibility to eliminate stressors. Then we may find support through the second pillar of stress management. It is dedicated to the personal stress amplifiers. You can uncover them with the question: "With which demands on myself and on others and with which attitudes do I put myself under pressure?".

For example wear PerfectionismThe difficulty of handing over work and the need to be liked by everyone contribute to stress. So-called thinking errors such as personalization: "If he doesn't greet me, he doesn't like me" or catastrophization: "If I don't get this done, I'll be fired" can also put us under stress. 

But we can learn to consciously perceive and question our stress-reinforcing mental patterns and to deal with ourselves in a friendly and supportive way. Sentences directed at ourselves such as: "It's okay, I'm allowed to make mistakes", "I'm allowed to disappoint others", "I'm allowed to ask for support" can be enormously relieving.

And a positive attitude towards others and the world also strengthens us. For example, people who regularly pause consciously to consider what they are grateful for are less stressed and more resistant to stress. You can have that too! Gratitude can be practiced, for example, with a gratitude journal, gratitude notes, or a gratitude letter.

Stress reaction

When we experience stress, a lot goes on in the body. On the one hand, the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system responsible for rest, is slowed down. On the other hand, its counterpart, the... Sympatheticresponsible for activation. The stress hormones Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and Cortisol are released and physical changes occur, such as an increase in pulse, blood pressure or muscle tension.

If stress persists in the long term, it can put a great strain on the body and psyche. Besides depression, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, there are many possible health consequences. Therefore, the third pillar of stress management is dedicated to regeneration. Taking breaks, meditation, relaxation training or sports help us to "come down" again, but also to "recharge our batteries".

Getting a grip on stress

Here are a few tips on what you can do in your everyday life to mitigate the negative effects of stress or avoid getting stressed in the first place:

1. interrupt an acute stress reaction

When you're stressed, your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive: With targeted abdominal breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, you can slow down the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This way your body can come to rest again.  

2. get an overview

Analyze the situation and get an overview: Where is the "hitch" and what can I do? Can you get stressors out of the way? Can you change your attitude towards things, towards others or towards yourself? How can you recover and recharge your batteries? 

3. tax long-term against

Uncover your stress-reinforcing mental patterns, question them and develop helpful alternatives. Ask yourself, for example, how often the catastrophes you have prophesied have occurred. Consider whether it is at all possible to do everything perfectly and where you could be more relaxed. Would it be possible for some things to be done by others instead of you?

There may be an opportunity or two to hand over the reins. And develop Mindfulness for yourself, your needs and boundaries and lovingly meet yourself and others: "Oh dear, that went in the pants. But it's okay. Sometimes mistakes happen." In this way you relieve yourself and others. This has a positive effect on your mood and strengthens you and your relationships - a buffer against stress! 

The Pocketcoach app

An easy way to gain access to stress management techniques and skills is to use the app Pocketcoach.

In the app, a digital companion called Pocketcoach guides you through an approx. 8-week program. In chats, Pocketcoach offers you a lot of information about stress and guides you to your own reflections and exercises. You will be guided by audio through practices for stress management, relaxation training and other exercises and provided with knowledge about the topic in psychoeducational films.

With a cognitive-behavioral approach, the app offers state-of-the-art support - supported by all three pillars of stress management. For example, you can use Pocketcoach to improve your time management, work scheduling, and social skills to get rid of stressors. 

You can also work on personal stress amplifiers.Pocketcoach guides you to uncover and challenge stressful demands and attitudes and take a helpful look at things. You will also be introduced to mindfulness. Last but not least, Pocketcoach trains you in regenerative stress management. With breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, imagination and PMR you will learn ways to recover from stress and recharge. 

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Literature:

  • Kaluza, G. (2018). Stress Management: Training manual for psychological health promotion (4th ed., corr.). Springer. 
  • Achor, Shawn (2010). The Happiness Advantage. The Seven Principles that fuel Success and Performance at Work. Random House UK Ltd.
  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.
  • Hanson, Rick & Mendius, Richard (2010). The brain of a Buddha. The applied neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom (2nd ed.). Arbor Publishing.