Whether you are a student, a single parent or a full-time employee, you must have been faced with a situation where you’ve felt an overwhelming amount of stress. While some of these situations last only a few moments or hours, others can stay with you weeks or months on end. You may not even be aware of it in the beginning, but eventually, the stress will wear you down.
From back pain to anxiety and depression, stress manifests itself differently in different people. And even if the symptoms are not the same across the board, you can be sure that it affects chronic stress affect us all in the same way: it dampens the immune system and can even speed up the aging process.
So, even if stress is inevitable, you will have to build the necessary skills to deal with it.
Developing Good Coping Skills
You must expect stress to creep in your life at an unexpected moment and learn how to control your body’s response to it. Getting through a stressful situation depends mostly on us and is precisely what will make all the difference.
Tip Nº 1: Know what’s causing the stress
Before you learn how to cope with stress, you will have to understand why you find that particular situation stressful. Unless you are able to identify that, you will be unable to deal with it appropriately. Yes, changing jobs and upcoming exams are common stressors, but more than that you have to understand your feelings and thoughts. What is it about this event that’s causing you to worry constantly?
Tip Nº 2: Journal
The easiest way to find the source of your stress is by writing in a diary regularly. You can not only use the diary or journal to pinpoint the exact event that triggered the stress, but it will also allow you to see patterns, behaviours, and attitudes that may be contributing to the problem.
Tip Nº 3: Remove the source
Once you’ve identified the stressors in your life, decide if it’s something you can eliminate or not. Are you swamped with work because you are unable to say no? You need to learn your limits and refuse others. If anything, they might end up respecting you more for it. Better say no, than drive yourself into the ground to get it done or miss deadlines. The best way to do that is to write a to-do list. Is it a page long? Then, you have too much on your plate. You have to focus on paring it down instead of always trying to please everyone. Are there people around you who make you uncomfortable or constantly anger you? Don’t be scared to cut off people. Your time is too precious to be spending it around people who consistently causes stress in your life.
Tip Nº 4: Adapt
Heard of a post-mortem, right? Well, do the exact opposite. Go over everything that CAN go wrong and deal with them before they even happen. You will typically want to adopt this method when dealing with situations that you can’t eliminate or avoid. An example of such a situation is an upcoming exam. You can’t just ignore the exam – it won’t go away. So, instead of rooting out the cause, you have to take control of your environment and alter it instead. Write down everything you think may go wrong. These thoughts are exactly what is stressing you out.
Now that you know the things you are worrying about, write down everything you can do to remedy each of these items. Let’s say you have to drop off your the kids at school on the same day you have an important client meeting. What are the things that can go wrong? You may be late to the meeting, you might forget your laptop at home, the projector may not work. You forget your speech. So, now that you’ve written down everything you think might go wrong, find a solution for each of those. Set the alarm 10 minutes early. Pack your laptop the night before. Have the IT guy check the projector before leaving on the day before. Rehearse your speech one last time before bed. These small things will help you feel more confident and as a result, the level of stress you are experiencing will drastically decrease.
Tip Nº 5: Take care of yourself
If you are constantly putting out fires at work and at home without even a moment of respite, you will most assuredly burn out. Commit to a positive attitude and do small things that give you pleasure. Walk your dog. Go to a spa and get a massage . Put on some music and dance around with your partner or on your own. Exercise. These will all give you a well-deserved break that can help burn away tension and stress.