Stress wreaks havoc on our emotional stability and takes its toll on our physical health. It narrows our ability to function well and enjoy life. Stress is actually our body’s response to the changes happening in our lives. Since life involves inevitable changes, there is no way avoiding stress. Our goal shouldn’t be to eliminate stress, rather to eliminate unnecessary stress and effectively manage it. We should learn and discover things to manage stress so we can keep it at bay.
Identify the stressors. Managing stress starts with clearly recognizing the causes and it is not as easy as it may sound. Most of the time, the true causes of stress aren’t obvious. We tend to overlook our own stress-inducing thoughts, behaviors and feelings. We may be aware that we are worried about a work deadline, but maybe it is our procrastination rather than the actual demands of the job that leads to a deadline stress.
Study how you cope with stress and identify the strategies you are currently applying into your life. Are they healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unhelpful? Examine your coping strategies, see if they are just temporarily reducing stress but causing more damage in the long run. Do you drink too much, smoke, overeat, procrastinate, zone out and withdraw from friends and family? If you do, then it is time to stop these surviving ideas. Learn the healthier ways to deal and manage stress. Remember that your methods of managing stress should be contributing to your greater emotional and physical health. So you either change the situation or change your reaction. There is no single method that will adopt for everyone, there is no unique response to stress. You need to experiment with different strategies and techniques to find and realize what is useful for you. Once identified, focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
When you choose to change the situation, you have two A’s to work with. Avoid the stressor and Alter the stressor. Not all stressors can be avoided. But you have to learn to say “No.” Know your limits and stick with them. Take control of your environment. Avoid people or things that stress you out. When you have too much on your plate, distinguish between the “should’s” and “musts.” If you really cannot avoid the stressor, try to Alter it. Learn to express your feelings. Voice it out, because if you don’t the resentment will build up and your situation will likely stay the same. Always be willing to compromise. If you want to change something or someone’s behavior, make sure to do the same for yourself.
When you choose to change your reaction, then these another two A’s should work for you. Adapt to stressor. If you cannot change the situation or the stressor itself, then its time to change yourself. Learn to change your perspective. Look at the big picture. Adjust your standards. One of the major causes of avoidable stress is perfectionism. Do not set yourself to failure. Be reasonable with your standards for yourself and for others. Lastly, Accept the stressor. Accept the things you cannot change. There are stressors which we really cannot avoid neither change. These are the loss of a loved one, a serious illness or a national recession. These situations only call for acceptance. It may be difficult at the moment, but it is a lot easier to accept rather than to rail against a situation which you cannot change.
Always make time for fun. Life is short, make the most out of it. Do not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Nurture yourself. Build relationships. Live a healthy lifestyle. You are and will always be stronger than the stressors.