Management is defined as the technique, practice, or science of managing, controlling or dealing with something.
This definition helps us to understand the importance of Stress Management. It is "PRACTICING" in order to "CONTROL" our stress.
Anyone who has ever learned to play a musical instrument knows that if you never practice, you won't become very advanced. If you have a concert but you don't practice your part, you will likely have trouble feeling successful. Just like playing an instrument, at first, some stress relieving activities are going to feel a bit awkward. It isn't going to be great. That's okay--its practice! As we continue to practice, it feels a bit easier and we think "I got this!" But if you stop practicing, your ability will likely slip back to earlier stages so when you play again (or practice again) you'll feel awkward again because you're "rusty". To prevent this, its important to practice every day. When I took piano lessons as a child, my teacher wanted me to practice for 30 minutes a day. We should strive to have the same diligence in our stress management. Imagine how stress free we would be (or how adept at lowering our stress level) if we practiced 30 minutes a day every day--whether we were experiencing stress or not!
I have a theory. I call it the "pitcher theory of stress." I think of it this way--each of us is a big pitcher (all different sizes and shapes) and the minute we're born, we're placed under a leaky faucet. The faucet drips... drips... drips... continuously. We can never really shut the faucet all the way off. Sometimes its a slow leak and sometimes its a fast leak and sometimes, when a really stressful thing happens, the faucet gets turned on and the water comes gushing out! Now, if we never remove any of the water from our pitcher, eventually, even with a very slow leak, the water will fill up the pitcher and it will spill out (this is a panic attack or a big "blow up" with your partner, child, or boss.) In order to prevent these from happening, its imperative that we do things every day to remove some of the stress. We don't know when that stressful event is going to happen--it could be an unexpected occurrence or event--and if the water is already at the top of our pitcher, this is really going to send us over the edge! We sometimes know when stressful events are going to take place--we know we have a big test in geometry on Friday--so its wise to make sure the water level in our pitcher is low so we have room for that event.
The good news is, we don't even have to spend 30 minutes a day doing a stress-relieving activity (practice). We might only spend a few minutes doing breathing exercises or 15 minutes doing exercise of some kind. Its important, however, that we do this with intention. If you're walking for 15 minutes, be aware that you're walking in order to reduce your stress and that this is part of your practice for today. If you're doing a few yoga poses, do them with the intention of it helping your stress level to go down a few millimeters. The more stress relieving activities you do, the lower your level and the more space you have (the better prepared you are) when an unexpected event turns the faucet on full blast!