Today, I’m not going to spend time writing about the stress people carry every day. Instead I want to get to the nitty-gritty of how to manage stress.
One common requirement to successfully manage stress is that you have to understand who you are. That means knowing your trigger points, your reactions, and your level of desire to change. Beyond that, you have to make choices that are good for you. Choices that allow you to take positive actions versus being in a negative reactionary mode. The right choices that engender confidence in your ability to minimize, end, and/or avoid stress.
I have helped many people to manage stress and live happier using the following approach. May it be helpful to you and bring you success.
Select Your Stressful Issue
First, write down what stresses you. Then, select one issue on which to focus.
Do not select a huge issue to work on at first, unless
A) You are sure that at the onset or during the stressful moment you will be able to just walk away, or
B) You are confident you can break down the bigger issue into smaller manageable parts and then select one part to focus on
For example, if someone is abusing you,
A) You may have the strength to finally just leave. If not,
B) You will have to take more manageable steps such as staying at a safe place, then getting a Temporary Restraining Order, notifying family and friends of how you would like them to support you, attending a support group, moving your belongings out, etc.
I recommend working on smaller (more manageable) stressful issues first. It is easier to succeed and build up confidence. However if you decide to solve your toughest issue first, you must break the big issue down into smaller steps in order to be successful.
Once you know what issue you want to work on, complete statement number one.
1. The stressful issue I am working on is …
The best way to train yourself to recognize stress is to make a list of the various times you experience it. When, where, and how it occurs. This way, you prep your brain to be aware at those specific stressful moments. The endgame is that your conscience is raised to where you recognize stress at the onset.
Limit The Impact of Stress
Ask yourself, “How can I avoid experiencing this stress?” This is a fundamental question for alleviating stress. Remain calm and honestly reflect on the question. Usually you can figure out a solution. If not, get guidance from a professional or a helpful friend.
Another question to ask is, “Am I carrying someone else’s stress?” Oftentimes others load their stress on you and you react by taking it on and allowing it to make your life miserable. This happens at work. You’re in a good mood, your boss enters in a rotten mood and barks orders for things that have to be done “NOW.” All of a sudden your day becomes stressed. Instead, choose to do what your boss requests without carrying his stress. Just do your best, working as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Minimize Stress When It Occurs
To minimize stress when it commences takes focus and determination. You already identified your stressful moments. Now, you need to preplan positive thoughts and actions for each situation. Write out healthy actions that allow you to detach, resolve, lessen, and/or avoid the stress. Understand that to successfully detach means you no longer carry the stress. So the more you practice detaching, the more control you will have managing stress.
Be sure to avoid making emotional choices. Listen to your gut, your feelings, and your intellect. You are the one in control of your own stress. Moreover, do not blame others for what you are allowing them to do to you.
Consider the following example of how to create preplanned thoughts and actions.
Let’s say you have a sibling who always accuses you of dumping the care-taking burden of your parents on him. You feel awful that you don’t live nearby to help out. You want to do more than send money. Over time you actually grow to believe that you are not helping out enough, but you don’t know what else you can do. You feel like an awful daughter and sister, and your sibling reminds you of that weekly.
PREPLANNED THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS (AKA, SOLUTIONS):
Accept that you are doing your best. When the phone rings and it is your brother, before you answer quickly remind yourself that you are doing your best. Understand that your brother is only voicing what he believes. Know that what he believes is not your truth. Tell your brother that you understand that he feels that way, but you disagree and furthermore, it appears we are not able to agree on this topic. So all we can do is continue to do our best. Blaming each other does not change the fact that we are doing our best to help our parents.
The more you believe and practice your preplanned thoughts and actions, the faster you will detach from the stress of the situation. Whatever preplanned choices you make, stay focused and use them to manage your stress better.
Now complete statement number two regarding your stressful situation.
2. My preplanned thoughts and actions are …
Write Your Stress-Management Goal
This is the simple part. Write out the following:
I desire to be more in control of me and reduce the negative impacts of stress. [Insert statements number 1 and 2 here.] Every day I will check-in with myself to see how well I handled the stress and ascertain how I may improve in the future. I know that in order to be successful, I must remain focused and patient.
If you are like Einstein and believe that “time” is an illusion, then do not include a deadline with your Stress-Management Goal. However if setting a deadline motivates you, then do so.
When you check-in to evaluate your progress, do not beat yourself up for not being as successful as you would like! If you were never trained to manage stress, then you can’t expect to be perfect overnight. Plus, it takes a while to program your mind and body to disallow negative reactions while under stress. Reacting is a defensive mode. Yet during a stressful moment, if you are mindful, you can detach before reacting and gain greater control and take healthy actions.
It takes work, but it’s worth it to train yourself to manage stress so you set yourself free to live happier and healthier!
Wishing you happiness.