Coping with stress is more about learning how to react to your stress-inducers rather than avoiding them. Avoiding them helps if you can but the reality is is that the bills won’t stop coming, there’s always only going to be 24 hours in one day, and you’re going to have deadlines and a million different people needing your attention. Coping with stress is about emotion management. You are the master of your own ship. You control how you choose to feel and what you choose to do based on how you feel. Here are some simple ways to help you get more control:
Start a stress journal. Chronical all the things that bring you stress. These can be as specific or vague as you want, as long as you’re honest. Next, identify how you currently deal with your stress. Do you smoke, get angry, eat, drink, take pills? Once you have identified what causes you stress and then how you choose to react to that stress, think of healthier ways to cope with your stress. You can’t know how to deal with stress in a healthy way until you know exactly what causes you stress and how you want to improve.
Decide what you can and cannot control
For stress-inducing things you cannot control, ultimately it will come down to acceptance, but there are a few things you can do to release tension in a healthy way:
starting a hobby
meditation and deep breathing
take breaks to do something enjoyable
For things you can control, learn to incorporate these aspects into your life:
Learn how to say “no”
Avoid hot-button topics
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
Be more assertive
No matter what kind of stress you’re dealing with, you’re going to need to do a little of re-framing within yourself. For example:
Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts.
Engage in positive self-talk. We all talk to ourselves so why not make it positive? Saying “I can do this” or “Things will work out” is more effective than “I’ll never get well” or “I’m so stupid.” Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress.
Whether the issue is big or small, we all have stress and we can all deal with it better. Sometimes it just takes a little reminder to take a breath, step back, and not let the situation get the better of us. You deserve better than living a stressed-out, anxiety-filled life.