Stress Relief Techniques: Why The Right Fit Is Essential

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Stress Relief Techniques: Find The Right Fit For The Stress You Face

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Hero Images/Getty Images. Hero Images/Getty Images

"I tried ________ to relieve stress, but it didn't work for me."  As one who helps people manage stress, I don't question people when they say this, but I sometimes question the circumstances when the technique in question was used.  I have often heard people say that certain stress relief techniques don’t work for them, and others work quite well, but often the techniques that don’t seem to work for a particular person are ineffective for one of two reasons: either they are a poor match for the person’s personality, or for the situation. For example, breathing exercises can effectively relieve stress, but may not be a powerful enough technique to be the sole coping strategy for someone experiencing caregiver stresschronic job stress, or anther type of chronically-occurring stress.  Meditation carries amazing benefits overall, but it can be a difficult fit for certain people in some situations, such as perfectionists who feel overwhelmed and want to simply relax quickly on their own without learning a new practice.  (Meditation can be easily learned, but sometimes there are easier routes to stress relief when someone already feels overwhelmed.)

There are so many different ways to relieve stress that sometimes finding the right technique for your personality and situation may seem overwhelming. Whether you have a few techniques that work for you and are just looking to add one or two, or need to overhaul your way of dealing with stress and create a whole new system, the following list can help. These stress relief techniques are grouped according to various categories you may be looking at when deciding how to best manage your stress. If you have any favorites that you don’t see mentioned here, use the link at the bottom to share your best stress relief strategies and how you use them.

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Quickly Let Go Of Acute Stress

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Learn to relax quickly and you'll feel much less stress in life in general. Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images

Acute stress is the type of stress that throws you off-balance momentarily. This is the type of stress that comes on quickly and often unexpectedly and doesn’t last too long, but requires a response and shakes you up a bit, like an argument with someone in your life, or an exam for which you don’t feel adequately prepared. Acute stress isn't damaging in the way that chronic stress is, because you are able to recover from it before long-term negative effects set in.  Still, if you aren't able to calm yourself after an acute stress episode, you can become chronically stressed, and this can bring many negative consequences.  Learn to relax quickly, and your stress will pass far more easily. These stress relievers can help you to relax and more quickly recover from acute stress.

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Chronic Stress: Know How To Cope

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Dougal Waters/Getty Images

Chronic stress is the type of stress that tends to occur on a regular basisThis type of stress may leave you feeling drained, and can lead to burnout if it’s not effectively managed. This is because, when the stress response is chronically triggered and the body is not brought back to a relaxed state before the next wave of stress hits, the body can stay triggered indefinitely. This can lead to the host of health issues that are generally associated with stress, including cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, depression, and a host of other conditions. (Here is a list of stress-related health issues.) This is why it is important to effectively manage chronic stress. Managing this type of stress often requires a combination approach, with some short-term stress relievers (like those for acute stress), and some long-term stress relief habits that relieve overall stress. (Different emotion-focused coping techniques and solution-focused coping techniques are important as well.) The following long-term habits can help you to better manage general stress that you may feel from the chronic stressors in your life.

More: Quiz: Might Your Stress Levels Be Putting Your Health At Risk?

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Emotional Stress: Manage It Before It Manages You

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Emotional stress can affect your physical and emotional health, causing significant stress. Fortunately, there are several things you can do. AlexanderNovikov/ Getty Images

The pain of emotional stress can hit harder than some other types of stress. For example, the stress that comes from a conflicted relationship tends to bring a greater physical reaction and a stronger sense of distress than the stress that comes from being busy at work. Anxiety, rumination, anger, and other strong emotional responses to stress can all take their toll, and contribute to greater levels of stress if you're not aware of how to minimize the downward spiral and get yourself on ​a stronger emotional footing.  Therefore, it is important to be able to manage emotional stress in effective ways. Strategies that help you to process, diffuse, and build resilience toward emotional stress can all work well, and different approaches can work in different situations. Here are some ways to manage emotional stress.

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Burnout: Get Back To Being Your Better Self

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Burnout is the result of the prolonged chronic stress of situations that leave people feeling a lack of control in their lives. Certain conditions of a job can create a greater risk of burnout, including not only a high level of demands, but also unclear expectations, lack of recognition for achievements, and a high level of risk of negative consequences when mistakes are made. (Does your job put you at risk for job burnout? Take the job burnout quiz to find out!) Once you reach a state of burnout, it is difficult to maintain motivation to work and accomplish what you need to accomplish, and you can feel chronically overwhelmed. In addition to the strategies that work well for chronic stress and emotional stress, the following strategies can help you to come back from a state of burnout—or prevent it entirely.

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