7 Simple rules for coping with stress
There has long been a silly myth that a certain amount of stress is good for you. To be blunt about it, that is rubbish. The people who push this myth are confusing pressure with stress; two very different experiences, both physiologically and psychologically. A certain amount of pressure is good for you. It keeps you alert and helps you to perform at an optimum level. However, when you feel that you can no longer cope with the pressure, stress kicks in. Coping with stress can be extremely difficult on you. If you fail to recognise stress and, deal with it early, the consequences can be very severe. Stress can take over and govern your life. Today there are several stress management courses, and many coaches (including myself) who can help you to regain control of your life after stress has taken over. However, it is far better to deal with the situation before it escalates. There are many skills which you can develop to help you become more adept at coping with stress and pressure.
1. Improve your perspective
Very few things in life are either fact or, set in stone. A lot of stress is generated by the way we look at things i.e. our perspective. The problem is that our perspective is heavily influenced by our values, beliefs and assumptions. Take the classic cliché of a glass that is either half full or, half empty. People who have learnt to deal with stress will have a more positive outlook on life and will see the glass as half full. But people who make stress a part and parcel of their lives will have a negative outlook on life. They will see the glass as half empty and will stress themselves about thinking about what isn’t there.
If you could improve your perspective and focus on what you have rather than what you don’t, you could conquer stress in a very emphatic manner. One great way to improve your perspective is to try and view each situation from all sides e.g. if you are having an argument with somebody else, try putting yourself in their shoes and viewing the situation from their perspective. Also, if you are feeling negative about a situation, you can ask yourself ‘If I was feeling positive about this, what would I be thinking/doing?’
2. Don’t overexert yourself
Taking on more than you can handle is a sure way of stressing yourself out. This is a major component of workplace stress today. People are so keen to impress others that they accept too much work. They have to struggle to get the work completed. This leads to working extra hours, insufficient rest and neglecting their personal life. All of these factors will quickly lead to a build up of stress. You need to balance your workload to avoid overwhelm and stress.
People set unrealistic deadlines for themselves and take onmore work than they can manage, in a bid to build their reputation and income. But the result – they lose out on the work and their health as well. This can be avoided by learning to manage your time and resources productively, ensuring that you get the most important tasks completed, thus achieving the best results with the resources available to you.
You can learn more about productivity with Quick Fixes for Your Productivity.
3. Don’t blame Circumstances
Ups and downs happen in everyone’s lives, but people’s reactions to them are different. Some of them would be stoic about changing circumstances while others would get totally worked up. People who learn how to take responsibility for the events in their life are more empowered. Even if you cannot prevent something from happening; you can control your response. By choosing the best response, you will tackle the issue more effectively and get your life back on track with the minimum disruption.
4. Seek balance
Extremes are generally unhealthy. By seeking balance in each area of your life, you will be able to perform at your optimum level for longer periods. Whether you are focusing on work, relationships, diet, exercise etc.; it is best to avoid extremes. Find the right balance, which works for you and, stick to it. This will allow you to be more centred in life and, you will be much happier.
5. Learn to avoid
A lot of people who are stressed out to the max are so because they don’t know how to say a simple monosyllabic word when the time comes – ‘No’. As a result they fall into the trap of doing things they should have avoided in the first place. Then, rather than accept that they are responsible for the situation; they often get angry with other people e.g. passive aggressive behaviour. This is a self defeating behaviour whereby you are causing yourself unnecessary hardship.
If you are committing yourself to work you don’t want to do, spending time with people you don’t want to or, agreeing to things which you would rather avoid; you need to accept responsibility and learn to say ‘No’. At first, you may find it difficult, even stressful, to say ‘No’ to people but in time, you will reduce your stress levels and free up large chunks of time to spend on the things you actually want to do.
This is your life and, you only get one life so, learn to spend the time on the things which are important to you. Learn to say ‘No’ and start living life on your terms.
Relaxation techniques work much more effectively than you think. For some reason, relaxation techniques have received a negative attitude from large sections of society. Something as simple as the correct breathing exercise can relieve a great deal of stress. Personally, I practise transcendental meditation and find it to be incredibly beneficial.
Coping with stress effectively involves releasing the small amounts of stress which build up each day. If this stress is not released, it builds steadily until eventually it becomes a major problem. Many people who have had terrible experiences with stress find that they ignored the signs early on. In the end, they were forced to deal with their issues. Finding a relaxation technique which works for you and, implementing it daily, is one of the most critical tools in coping with stress.
Many people have no idea how to prioritise. They simply draw up a list of tasks which need doing and start working through them. They often focus on the easiest tasks and complete them first. There is a major flaw with this system – the easiest task is rarely the most important. To prioritise you must learn to understand how important any task is. Then you focus on completing the most important task that you can complete, with the time and resources available to you. This one strategy will drastically reduce stress because each day will become more effective. You will learn that an effective day is not measured in the quantity of work you complete. It is measured in the quality and importance of the work you complete. This will help you in managing your life optimally and you can do very well at keeping stress away.
Stress is a major problem in modern working life. It can cause serious health, work and relationship issues. If you get to the point where you can no longer cope; you may find it very difficult to overcome stress. Coping with stress before it escalates is a more effective strategy. The techniques listed above are some of the most powerful for coping with stress. You will experience some pressure each day but when you apply these techniques, you will release that pressure before it builds into something dangerous. Coping with stress does not have to be difficult. Apply these techniques today and, every day, and you will be coping with stress effectively, with little additional thought or effort.
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