Four steps to better stress management
Even at the best of times we can sometimes feel that our lives are just too stressful to enjoy things as much as we would like. Here are the steps to take to help you get through those more difficult times.
Step one: Acceptance and control
We all need some degree of stress or life would be completely dull and uneventful. Planning for a big event or taking on a new challenge inevitably brings with it increased stress. But there are also plenty of less pleasant types of stress such as that caused by relentless time pressures at work, a threat of redundancy or long term illness in the family.
Stressful situations are a part of life and an acceptance of that fact is often more helpful than just wishing the situations would go away. Rather, it is by managing our response to such situations that we can learn to control stress to an acceptable level. That begins with distinguishing between the elements of any situation that we can control and those that are outside of our control. Then, as the famous Serenity Prayer advises, we need to accept the things we cannot change, find the courage to change the things we can, and acquire the wisdom to tell the difference.
Sometimes just saying "no" more often when people put unreasonable demands on you can be all you need to take back some control of your life.
Step two: Focus on the good stuff!
At any given point in our lives there is a spectrum of things going on from aspects that cause us stress and sadness to things that are bland and uninteresting to things that bring us comfort joy or excitement. Sometimes we all can have a tendency to focus on the less pleasant part of our lives, worrying about it day and night, and overlooking the good stuff!
Actively thinking about and being grateful for all the good things in your life can make a massive difference to your ability to cope with stress.
And if there is not enough good stuff going on already, then perhaps you need to create more. Examples might include booking a holiday, going out more often, taking up a new hobby, getting a pet, contacting an old friend, or practicing meditation. Life is for living! It's not supposed to be always easy but it is supposed to be worth it!
Step three: Take care of yourself
It all begins with you! If you don't take care of yourself you will not be strong enough to take care of anything in your life. To manage your emotions effectively, it requires your conscious mind to be fresh and have plenty of available energy. When that is not the case, when you are tired and feeling drained, you can become the victim of your own emotions, especially fear, anxiety, sadness and anger.
The priority in this respect is getting enough sleep; and that is best supported by taking plenty of exercise (especially in the fresh air) and by having a good diet with very little processed food and not too much alcohol, sugar or other carbohydrates.
Step four: Talk things through
If you are feeling stressed and anxious, it is never a good idea to keep things bottled up. Talking through your situation with a friend or family member can be a great form of release and can also help you gain a different perspective on your situation. There is always something you can do to help yourself but sometimes we can convince ourselves that we are completely trapped.
Talking things through with a coach can be particularly helpful at times of stress, because a good coach is always supportive and non-judgmental, and you don't need to filter the things you say for risk of causing offence. A coach also has no vested interest in any decision you make so won't try to influence you to do things that you don't feel are right for you.