Recognising stress and how to deal with it
You may have heard the notion that some stress is good for us but this is hard to appreciate when we suffer from exam nerves, pre-presentation stage fright, an increasing workload or trying to cope with a difficult work colleague.
There are those situations in life (such as giving birth or getting married), which are positive states of stress, but most of us associate stress with feeling close to breaking point and feeling physically or psychologically ill.
However, how we perceive stressful situations depends on our previous experiences, our spontaneous behaviour patterns our thinking processes and our mind-sets.
Experts state that we cause 95% of our own stress, depending on our filter systems and it depends on how we filter our feelings and responses to given situations.
We often associate a previously stressful time with THAT place, person or situation.
The thing about stress is that it is all relative; some people thrive on the adrenalin of a 24/7 lifestyle and are at their best in a crisis whilst others fall apart at event the slightest change to their normal routine.
Psychologists define type A personalities; those who are competitive and perfectionists.
And type B personalities; those who are more easy going, less concerned about being number one or what others think of them and are better able to deal with stressful situations.
Knowing the warning signs and what triggers your own stress will help you to understand how to cope with it in a positive way and allow you to make some changes in order to deal with stress as it appears in your life in the future.
Tips on how to deal with stress
Identify what is causing you to worry - if the reason isn't clear, you may have to really think about it. Writing it down or talking to friends can help you sort out your feelings.
Decide what action to take (if any) - work out what part of the situation is under your control and assess it to see if the threat is real or if you are blowing it out of proportion. If the problem is just hypothetical/worst case scenario, work out if your fears are likely to actually happen.
Come up with a plan to tackle the part of the problem that is within your control - taking action to protect yourself is a good way to channel nervous energy and provides reassurance against your innermost fears.
Reframe your inner language - this means turning any negative thoughts or statements you have into more positive ones. This may seem easier said that done but the more you practice new thoughts and habits, the more likely they are to replace your negative ones.
Practice positive self-belief - make a conscious effort to stop your self-limiting beliefs for example 'I can't cope with my current situation,' can be replaced with 'what can I do now to start to change the situation?'
Focus on the present - ignore your inner voice telling you to fear the future eg. 'this will turn out like last time,' and instead focus on the here and now.
Challenge any labels you give yourself - don't think of yourself as a failure or loser; often the only limitations in life are those we bestow upon ourselves.
Look on any setbacks as learning opportunities. When J K Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books she was rejected by publishers on numerous occasions but she kept going and look at her now! Developing an attitude that there is a hidden advantage to be had from most difficult situations can be challenging but there is a certain amount of wisdom in the saying: 'what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.'
Naturally, it takes a lifetime to adopt certain patterns of behaviour and attitudes of mind but, with practice and determination it IS possible to replace our responses to certain situations or people that we find difficult with more ones that allow us to create more positive feelings of self-worth and well-being.
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