Stress is a naturally occurring biological phenomenon. All living things experience stress, from the antelope being chased by a lion over the plains of Africa to the bomb squad expert deciding whether or not to cut the blue wire or the red wire. Stress is part of life, it cannot be avoided – accept that now! But there are ways to help manage your stress so that it does not control your life.
1. You Can: Identify and acknowledge stressors
Identifying what causes you stress and acknowledging it is the first step in coming closer to reducing your stress levels. Stress is like a bell curve. No stress at all and we’d never do anything as we would have no desire to strive for survival. A little bit of stress is needed for optimal performance, too much stress and your quality of life becomes seriously diminished. Determine the really big obvious stressors, such as work related issues, financial issues, health concerns; as well as the minor ones such as your partner’s annoying quirks that irk you, things your kids do that drive you nuts and the irritants you encounter each day.
2. You Can: Select what stress you can get rid of
Some stress is easily dealt with, and it is best to start with these things. Any issues that causes you stress which you can delegate – do so! Any problems you are dealing with that aren’t yours to begin with – get rid of them!
3. You Can: Prioritise
If you’ve got a lot on your plate, trying to deal with it all at once can be daunting. Prioritise what has to be done today, this week, this month etc. Now once you’ve done that go through your list again and really review it. What have you put down for dealing with today that you can really put off for the week? This doesn’t mean you are being disorganised, you are learning to prioritise.
4. You Can: Get help
Where has it ever been engraved in stone that you aren’t allowed to ask for help? Whether it’s a colleague, your partner, your parent, your child, your neighbour, your best friend, your stepmother’s gym instructor’s cleaning lady – if you ask you will usually find that there is someone who can help you if you need it.
5. You Can: Cope
Coping with stress is one of life’s essential skills. And you can do it, you already are, even if your current coping mechanism is doing so many different tasks you never have any time for yourself, you’re simply trying to distract yourself from the stress by keeping busy. There are countless ways to cope with stress, far more than what I could possibly cover in this post. Learning to relax is one such coping mechanism– which may seem easy in theory, but may be very difficult for many so don’t be concerned if you take some time to learn this skill. Learn to identify your body’s signals – it will tell you when you need to stop and take a break before you burn out.
Yes, you can manage stress, but you cannot beat it. Embrace stress, as trying to “fight stress is only going to increase stress and anxiety by raising adrenaline levels, creating a higher level of fear. Acknowledge how stress makes your body feel and notice those subtle changes. We all experience stress, just don’t let it stop you from experiencing the rest of your life.