Feeling stressed in today’s world is pretty much inescapable. The demands of daily life such as bills that keep on piling up, escalating cost of living, work-related problems and relationship issues can take a toll on your well-being. Other stresses such as natural calamities and serious illness can sometimes exceed our ability to cope.
Although research has shown that a little stress can be beneficial by providing us with energy, drive and focus, there are consequences when we are exposed to an extreme amount of stress. Untreated stress can lead to heart diseases, affect our immune system and damage our emotional balance, among other things.
Stress Prevention is the Key
You may feel and think that there is nothing you can do to manage your stress, but the truth is that you have a lot more control on your environment, emotions, relationships and lifestyle than you think. Stress management is all about accepting your situation and taking conscious steps towards getting out of the situation without feeling helpless. No matter how bad you think your situation is, there are steps you can take to deal with stress positively.
6 Positive Ways to Deal with Stress
It is important to note that what creates a stressful situation in one person may not affect another. On the same breath, nothing should be taken for granted. Stress does not just happen. It builds up from seemingly inconsequential things.
Over time, small things become big, harmless indulgences become life-threatening diseases and trivial matters become serious. Learning how to prevent stress before it happens is much easier than trying to treat it after it’s already begun. The first step is to prevent potential stressors from metamorphosing into dreadful stresses. Effective stress management demands that you become vigilant and aware of your lifestyle.
Here are six positive ways to deal with stress:
1. Engage in positive self-talk
Negativity is the beginning of stress. One positive way to deal with stress is to engage in positive self-talk. The things we keep telling ourselves eventually become reality. If you read Thoughts are Things by Prentice Mulford, you will learn that the thoughts you harbor in your mind can greatly affect the quality of your life. It’s good to learn to think and self-talk positively.
Negative self-talk generates stress while positive self-talk reduces it. Learn to turn negative situations into positive ones by adopting a positive and optimistic outlook on things and situations. For instance, instead of saying, “I can’t do this”, say, “this can be done.”
Practicing self-talk everyday will help you feel better. In the morning before you start your day, say something like: “This is going to be a great day. No matter what happens to me, I am going to remain positive.”
To quote Charles R. Swindoll, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
2. Identify behaviors & habits that add to stress
Sometimes it’s easy to identify the cause of stress while other times it’s not so obvious. When you lose a loved one or experience major life events like being displaced by earthquakes. Do not overlook your thoughts and feelings in such situations. If you are constantly worried about something, it is time to carefully look into it to see where the actual problem is. For instance, if your boss is constantly reprimanding you, it could be that your procrastination or chronic lateness is the real cause rather than the actual dob demands.
It is important to carefully observe your own attitudes, habits, behavior and excuses if you want to identify the underlying cause of stress.
- Do you dismiss stress as temporary when in reality you’ve been dealing with the same stress for months?
- Do you blame outside factors for your stress?
- Have you accepted being stressed as part of your life?
Accepting responsibility for the way live, act and think is very critical when it comes to dealing with stress. You need to be in control.
Change your habits, behaviors and the way you react to issues.
According to Huffington Post, keeping a stress journal has proven to be an excellent ways of managing stress. It is recommended that you track all events, things and moments that bring stress. If you do that, you will begin to observe common themes and patterns. Write everything down. Whenever you feel some kind of stress, answer these questions:
- What is most likely to have caused the stress?
- How did I feel both emotionally and physically?
- How did I react?
- How could I have handled it differently?
- What can I do now to feel better?
3. Take a Nap
Yes, it sounds simplistic and cosmetic, but countless studies have shown that taking a nap after feeling stressful can increase productivity by 34%. Some companies like Proctor & Gamble and Google encourage their employees to take a few minutes during working hours to take a nap. Sometimes your stress could even be sleep-related.
4. Find something different to do
Change is like rest. When you feel physically and emotionally drained, one possible remedy is for you to change what you are doing. When you do not feel like doing something anymore, find something that makes you feel good. Find something you enjoy doing to improve your moods.
Here are some suggestions:
- Take up a new hobby.
- Make new friends.
- Start an art project such as painting, weaving, creating toys with children.
- Read your favorite book.
- Play golf.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Take a walk.
- Watch a movie.
- Play board games with friends and family members.
- Connect with friends and loved ones on social media
These are by no means exhaustive, but the bottom line is to do something you enjoy. Also, read through our list of stress management techniques for more tips.
5. Mind how you manage your stress
This sounds strange, doesn’t it? The methods you currently use to deal with stress can compound your problems even further. Are you employing unhealthy and unproductive strategies to cope with stress? Unfortunately, many people resort to unhealthy stress management techniques.
Here are some of unhelpful ways of coping with stress that may cause damage in the long run:
- Drinking alcohol or using hard drugs
- Spending too much on TV or social media
- Doing things that make you to avoid facing your problems
- Blaming someone else
- Venting on others
At best, the above “stress relievers” are temporary. In most cases, you get into more physical and emotional pain.
6. Adopt the 4 A’s: Avoid, Adapt, Alter or Accept
Sometimes stress comes to us and there is nothing we can do to avoid it. Some stressors arise as a result of your environment, nature of work or internal conditioning. That means the only option is to change either your reaction or the situation. It is important to apply the 4 A’s: avoid, adopt, alter or accept.
- Avoid: Some stressors can be avoided because they are not necessary. Avoid people who stress you out and take control of your environment. Learn to distinguish between what you should do and what you must do. That being said, it is catastrophic to avoid stressful situations that need to be addressed.
- Alter: If a stressful situation cannot be avoided, learn to alter it. As already mentioned in the first tip, the way you communicate to yourself will determine whether something becomes stressful or not. Instead of bottling up feelings, try to express them. It is also important to be assertive in some situations.
- Adopt: Try to look at your problems from a more positive angle. Learn to make lemonade out of lemons. Sometimes bad situations can actually turn out to be blessings in disguise. Are you looking at the big picture instead of wallowing in self-pity? Try to see if perfection is the main cause of your stress.
- Accept: Accept the things you cannot change. If you lose a loved one, what can you do? As difficult as it is, you will eventually have to learn to accept it. It is part of life. Do not waste time trying to control the uncontrollable. Be grateful for what you are and have.
If you have tried these tips and still nothing seems to be changing, perhaps it is time to take it up a notch higher and see a mental health professional. Remember no one is entirely stress-free. It is how you deal with it that matters.