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7 Easy Steps to manage your stress
Categories : How To
Part 1: Mechanics of Stress Management
1) Understand stress is perceptual
Major life event stress
When speaking about stress being perceptual it is important to realize there are at least two types of stress. First stress, is major life event. Major life event stress is an event that occurs to all humans that produce a high amount of stress. Stress from a major life event can impact health, can impact relationships, and can take months to years to recover.
Some major life events, cannot be foreseen and can happen unexpectedly, such as death of a spouse. Other major life events like marriage, divorce, loss of a job or moving can be foreseen. Nonetheless, they are events that invoke a high amount of stress. Stress from a major life event can take months to recover and using stress management techniques can help alleviate but not fully rid you of the stress caused by a major life event.
Second type of stress is stress cause by daily events and this article focuses on this type of stress instead of the stress from a major life event.
Daily living stress
Feeling stressed, is a choice and how we choose to deal with stress is also a choice. I recognize this seems as an over simplification of stress and accept without stress in our lives our lives will boring. Nonetheless, when you think about what stresses you, it is based on your values and what you feel as important. For example, if your boss is chasing for your submission that is due at 5 PM. You may choose to think 'flog-off you will get it when you get it and not a moment sooner,' or you may enter panic mode. Worrying if you are going to meet the deadline because you know how important it is to you.
It can be said, stress is based on how important something is to you and how important accomplishing your task is to you. How you choose to react and how you choose to manage the situation is entirely up to you.
2) Learn your stress triggers
After realizing stress is perceptual. Meaning, you have control on how you view the event and react to it. The next step is, understanding how you trigger your feeling of stress. Understanding how stress is triggered is vital in learning to manage your stress.
A starting point is keeping a journal. In the journal list what occurred right before the feeling of stress occurred. Also, how you felt afterward and any actions you took.
Do this for a few weeks. Once you have a list take time to what occurred before you felt stressed. You will begin to see a pattern. The pattern will begin to highlight your triggers and how you react to stress.
3) Learn how to manage stress
Eliminating, disrupting and minimizing the impact of your stress triggers
Once you understand stress is perceptual the next step is beginning to learn how to manage stress.
In step 2, learning your stress triggers, you kept a journal that highlighted your triggers. Once you identify your triggers, you can begin to develop strategies to eliminate them, disrupt them, or minimize their impact on you.
So, what do I mean by disrupting your triggers? It means finding techniques that make you feel as though you are in control that will either eliminate the stress from occurring or minimize its impact. This can be:
- Avoiding certain situations
- Changing certain activities
- Learning new ways to interact.
- Learning to be assertive
- Time management
- Better planning
Finding what works: Techniques on how to manage your stress
There are many was of managing stress from very basic inexpensive steps like using slime, taking a walk or taking a warm bath. Other ways may be taking courses on becoming assertive, time management, or how to prioritize.
There is no one solution or panacea to stress management. It comes down to dedication to make a lifestyle change and finding what works for you. As you learn what works for you, you will be able to better manage your stress.
Part 2: Making changes permanent: Managing your stress for the long-term
4) Change your attitude
Congratulations, you have made a first step to change your life and lead a healthier lifestyle.
In the first three steps, the mechanics of stress management are discussed. From this point onward, I will be discussing how to ensure the changes you made become permanent changes.
Now, the difficult work begins. Learning to change your perception. As someone who becomes easily stressed, I find stress becomes an issue when I begin viewing events from a negative perspective. Once I begin shifting my perspective, from being negative to positive, I find my stress decrease.
How do you make a shift? As stated in step 1, stress is perceptual. Having a positive attitude means, not focusing on the negative of the situation. Instead, seeing it from a positive perspective. From my experience, stress become unmanageable when, only the negative can be seen and forgetting there is also a positive to the situation too.
To highlight my point, let us use a dog chewing up a couch cushion while you leave to go shopping. It is very easy to see the negatives:
- Torn cushion
- Dog seen as 'bad' because it destroyed the cushion
- Thinking about the cost to replace
- Thinking about the mess that the dog created
- The damage that has been done
- Issues it may cause for your spouse and their reaction
While focusing on the negative it difficult to reflect on your role, what you could have done to prevent it, and it was a cushion that was destroyed that can be replaced.
Now, if you are a very positive person then you might laugh if your dog gives you a silly look and maybe you might be able to find some humor in it.
By taking a positive attitude to a stressful situation, it is not meant to minimize the severity of the situation. Instead by taking a positive approach it means putting the situation in perspective. Granted the dog destroyed a cushion that can be replaced. However, using a positive perspective will be seeing the dog that brings you a lot of happiness is alive from chewing the cushion and the mess that was made will only take a few minutes to clean up.
The point, I am making here is about perspective and avoiding focusing on the negative of the situation by worrying about the cost to replace the cushion and worrying about how others may act. Instead it is about having clarity and seeing the situation for what it is.
5) Surround yourself with positive people
Changing your attitude on how you perceive an event is not easy. Now it is time to get help to support your change. Seek out people who are also positive. Being around positive people will help you manage your stress and help you realize there is good around you.
6) Take Stock
From time to time, take time to review where you are at with managing stress. Do you feel your stress is at an appropriate level? If not look at what else do you need to do.
7) Celebrate you
It is easy to think of others while forgetting about yourself. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments and success.