“Any problem well-defined is half solved”.
Have you ever had one of those chaotic days when feel like all you are doing is spinning in circles and not accomplishing anything? And how about all those times when it seems like it’s one stressor after another? You feel like you are putting one fire out, only to find another one starting to burn? You are at your wits end, feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and burnt out!
Stress is how you react to the changes occurring in your life, both physically and emotionally. Stress is not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what is happening to you. Managing your stress successfully and effectively is possible.
Understanding that YOU have control is a vital component for managing your stress. Improving how you can control your levels of stress can also improved your mental health, physical well-being, and your relationships with others.
Stressors are the cause of stress. There are 2 primary types of stress — Positive Stress or negative Stress. A Positive Stress Response is feeling energized and motivated to complete challenging projects that are time sensitive, or having determination to overcome current obstacles causing you distress.
“When you focus on the good, the good gets better”.
“Aim for progress, not perfection. A little bit of progress each day adds up to big progress over time. There is no failure. If an option doesn’t work, learn from it and move onto the next one. Knowledge is power, but determination and enthusiasm pulls the switch”.
A Negative Stress Reaction to the same example as above, is feeling overwhelmed by having too much to do, staying stuck on worrisome thoughts, and focusing on the problems vs the possible solutions. Often times we are quick to react, which leads to unpleasant emotions, and negative cognitions. Negative Stress can result in mental, emotional and physical health problems.
“When you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond. That’s where your power is. Remind yourself you have been in this predicament before, and you got through it. You have felt scared, alone, stressed out, anxious and uncomfortable, yet you survived. Breathe…Know that you can survive this too. I know it feels unbearable right now. Just breathe. This too shall pass, and you are going to be okay”.
3 things you can do to help you put stress in perspective includes:
- Take some time for you every day. Schedule “Self Care” time on a daily basis, and make a commitment to do it. Write down the things that are contributing to your feelings of negative stress. Identify and include your emotions and symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, tension in your body, anger, frustration, difficulty sleeping, tearfulness, isolation, and so on.
- Identify the things on your list that you can realistically change right now, and those things that you can’t control or change. Start by focusing on what your priorities are, and choose 3 things you want to change. Brain-storm different options and solutions, and how you are going to change them. AVOID trying to tackle too many tasks all at once. The goal is to effectively manage stress, not increase it. Looking at your problems in an organized way helps reduce stress. An organized approach helps you define the problems, think about options, visualize solutions, and create an action plan.
- Realize that there will always be things you cannot change. The key is knowing when something cannot be changed, and accepting that some things are always going to be stressful or challenging. This is referred to as Radical Acceptance. Focus on changing the way you think about stressful circumstances. Work on changing your negative thinking patterns that are causing you uncomfortable feelings and behaviors. It all starts with your cognitive abilities: Thoughts = Feelings = Behaviors. You have to be willing to change your unwanted thoughts first. Practicing this every day will help you rewire and retrain your brain on how you are going to respond to stressful situations. Think of it as the domino effect: Your thoughts lead to your feelings, resulting in your behaviors. If your thoughts are not helpful or productive, try to redirect them by doing something positive, like an activity you enjoy, deep breathing exercises, physical exercise, calling or texting a friend, writing in your journal, or doing something nice for someone.
“At some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening”.