There are different reasons why people have stress. Stress is unavoidable, most especially in these times of a global pandemic, however, tackling it the right way can help. Doctors say that anxiety is the body’s normal response to stress and this response happens when someone faces a real or perceived emotional or physical threat. Lisa Cynthia Niwenahisemo, a psychologist, says stress can be overwhelming and she recommends controlled breathing and exercising as ways to cope. “Breathing exercises help people to feel calm. Controlled breathing reduces stress and anxiety, increases alertness and boosts immune system. Look for a comfortable position and relax your body and tune into your breath slowly for seven minutes,” says Niwenahisemo. She points out that exercise can improve your mood and distract your mind from what is making you chronically stressed. “Find an exercise that you regularly enjoy doing and will do consistently, it can be a 30-minute run or walk in the neighbourhood. You should not let stress interfere with your exercising schedule.” Niwenahisemo notes that with stress, the mind and the body are linked. One can view stress as something wreaking havoc on your body, or as something that is giving you strength and energy to overcome adversity. Stress is inevitable, but getting sick from it is not, so it is better to change your perception. Such small shift in thinking can make a difference. She recommends that when people have too much stress, it is better to step back and reset their mind to prevent any sort of blackout. Focusing on one thing at a time helps in dealing with everything happening step-by-step. Vincent Sezibera, a psychologist, tells Wellness that people should be aware of what is causing the stress and anxiety so as to know how to handle it. “Stress cannot be prevented a hundred per cent but knowing when it is high helps in the process of relieving it. “It can cause one’s heart to beat fast and if you are not aware, you might think you already caught some heart disease, but knowing it is stress helps as you can cool down with deep breaths,” he adds. He points out that relaxing helps to relieve stress, especially with people who work a lot and get emotionally drained. “Doing sports or any exercise activity helps in taking your mind off what is stressing you and keeps your body active. “Some people who get stressed at work think that overworking and staying late helps in performing better, which is quite the opposite. They should leave work and go to their family. The next day, they’ll be better prepared to work”, Senzireba adds. TIPS Ground yourself During emotional storms people with stress should ground themselves by noticing thoughts and feelings, connecting with the body by stretching and breathing, and engaging with the world around them. Unhook yourself Notice that a difficult thought or feeling has hooked you. Then try to pay full attention to whatever you are doing. Work on your values Choose the values that are most important to you. For example, being kind, hardworking, among others. Then act accordingly. Trying to push difficult thoughts and feelings away does not often work very well, so instead, make room for them. Allow the painful feeling or thought to come and go like the weather.