The television is blaring…the phone is ringing…and someone has just arrived at the door. You have stress anxiety – big-time. As a result, you may feel a loss of control. If it’s a particularly bad day, you might even feel as if there is no way out. You feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with the stress you’re under.
What you may not realise is that stress management, it is entirely within your power. You may not have control over what happens in your life – but you can control your reaction to various stressors.
Of course, a knee-jerk reaction to stress may be to try to remove it entirely from your life. But this is not always possible and, in some cases, it may not be the best approach. Instead, you might consider limiting your exposure to a certain stressor. In other words, if you’re really feeling overwhelmed, can you take a break from the action? Just a few minutes outside can help clear your head, enabling you to better handle things in the long run.
Another habit that can make stress more difficult than it needs to be is all-or-nothing thinking. For instance, if you’re having trouble studying for a test, do you assume that you are going to fail? If you have a disagreement with your spouse, do you think that he or she will leave you? Such disaster-oriented thinking can make a difficult situation even more trying, even more stressful. By adopting a more realistic approach to problems, you can limit your emotional reactions.
Perfectionism may also be at the root of your stress anxiety. If you think that you have to be perfect in the office and at home, you can never really relax. In other words, you are putting yourself under unnecessary stress. If you begin to focus on performing tasks well rather than perfectly, you can establish more realistic expectations for your life. This new-and-improved thinking can enable you to face challenges with more confidence.
Losing your temper can also cause you unnecessary stress. If you are feeling as if you are about to explode, think of something calming, such as an ocean or a rainforest. Don’t give into the temptation to self-destruct. Getting angry will not solve your problem and could, in fact, create additional problems. If you feel as if your blood is about to boil, stay cool, take a step back, and re-assess your options. With a clear head, you may be able to find the solution to your problem relatively quickly. Your stress level should also drop.
It should be said that it is not easy to control your reactions to stress. It takes time, patience, and emotional effort. If you tend to react quickly to stress, you might have to teach yourself to slow your reactions. You will have to learn to make controlling your reactions to stress a habit. It is well worth the work involved. Otherwise, you could find yourself battling a stress-related illness. When all else fails, remember this slogan: ‘Take a breath and take a break’. While you might lose some time in the short run, you could benefit a great deal over the long haul. And your friends and family will notice a distinct change in your emotional reaction to stress.
Some other things you could try to help relieve stress – yoga, reading a book, taking a walk, having a chat with a friend or loved one, doing some exercise or going for a walk, buy some flowers..
Which of these, or one of your own, are you going to incorporate into your week?