- June 9, 2020
- Posted by: Phil Gray
- Category: Wellbeing
If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk.
Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.
Stress management is a wide spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies aimed at controlling a person’s level of stress, especially chronic stress, usually for the purpose of and for the motive of improving everyday functioning.
It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level. The bills aren’t going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think.
Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at predictable times: your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings for example. When handling such predictable stressors you can either change the situation or change your reaction.
When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation
Have a good think about the people or situations that consistently cause you stress and make a list of them, then write out ways you can work around them to avoid them in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude. How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are tell-tale marks of self-defeating thoughts.
Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run it’s easier than fighting against a situation you can’t change.
Final words of advice:
Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Make time for fun and relaxation. You’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come. You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health, so maintain a consistently healthy moderate diet and do regular exercise. Learn to manage your time more effectively. Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life. Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation. Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviours to reduce stress. Seek out social support and spend enough time with those you love, and those who’s company you enjoy.
We recommend the next positive step is completing one of our related online courses. Start with Stress Management. Take up our FREE offer for the ‘Stress Management’ online course, this is for first time visitors and only for available in June 2020. Use coupon code ‘STRESS-LESS’.
Then consider Managing Pressure and Maintaining Balance. Finally, you may want to do our course titled Successfully Managing Change. Each online version of these courses runs for approximately 2 hours. Click on the provided links for a full description and costings.