Stress is something we all deal with, no matter what our job status. It has become a global problem and is on the rise. Many stress-relief programmes focus on things like improving our diet, exercising, smoking cessation, deep breathing and getting plenty of rest. Although all these things can be helpful, it often requires other approaches to get to the root of the problem and transform stress into productive energy.
Stress researchers have determined that it’s our response to external events, not the events themselves that cause stress. To effectively deal with stress, we need to learn how to change our mental and emotional responses to external events. Here are three keys to advanced stress management.
It’s not a big deal
External events like job pressure, relationships, money issues and even the morning commute are things that can easily trigger a stressful response. However, the degree of stress they cause is directly proportional to the amount of significance we give them. When you find yourself stressing over something, step back and tell yourself to take out the significance. Try not to keep piling on the mental and emotional energy as that will only make things worse. Find a balanced perception about what has triggered your stress. Ask yourself, “Is this really such a big deal'” Reduce your energy investment in your unpleasant perception of external events.
Stop the blame game
When we are confronted with a stressful situation, the natural tendency is to blame someone or something, thinking, “They’re stressing me out!” “This job is driving me crazy” or “I hate it when they do that”. Blaming others only adds fuel to the fire. It gives us an assumed right to keep getting more and more stressed.
When you find yourself blaming others for your stress, try instead to take responsibility for your own mental and emotional reactions. By taking responsibility for how you are feeling and reacting, you take back your power, which feels good. You gain control, and in doing so, you are transforming stress into a new ability to remain balanced, calm and self-secure.
Find something to appreciate
When stress has you in its grip, one of the most effective things you can do is to replace it with a feeling of appreciation. Stress narrows our view of others, ourselves and of life.
Appreciation acts like a wide-angle lens on a camera. It expands our perception and opens the door to a more balanced perspective on whatever has caused the stress. When you find yourself stressing out, stop for a minute and find something to appreciate. Think of the good things about your life and appreciate them — your friends, family, successes you’ve had, enjoyable events that are coming up and so on. As you begin to appreciate these things, you’ll notice that your stress level is decreasing. Stress can’t own you when you count your blessings in life.
So when you find yourself stressed, try to reduce the significance you are adding to your perception of the event that triggered it. Take control by assuming responsibility for your own reactions instead of blaming others.
Step back and find something to appreciate to help shift into a more balanced, comprehensive view. Applying any or these three keys is not always easy, especially when you are feeling highly stressed. However, with a little effort, you’ll find they can give you a new sense of release and a greater ability to perform better and enjoy life.