How To Survive Stress
A little stress is a good. It encourages you to grow and take your skills to the next level so that you can to manage life more effectively.
Ongoing or chronic stress – that’s not so good! The negative ramifications are numerous, including illness, insomnia, weight gain, and depression. It also diminishes your work performance, and creates issues in your relationships. Nobody wants that!
According to Dr. Karl Albrecht, author of the bestselling book Stress and the Manager: How To Make It Work For You, there are four common types of stressors:
1. Time Stress
Fretting over deadlines, rushing to avoid being late, or worrying about time – having too much time or too little time all fall into the time stress category of stress. Also included in this category are tasks you have to do, potential failures, and feeling trapped or hopeless.
2. Anticipatory Stress
This is the kind of stress you experience when you focus on an upcoming presentation or have an upcoming dentist appointment. Anytime you dwell on the events in the future, especially in a negative way, it creates pressure and anxiety.
Learning to be present and addressing your deeper fears like fear of failure or all the possible ways what’s ahead might go wrong is the fix. It is the perfect opportunity to take your thoughts captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
3. Situational Stress
This is the type of anxiety that shows up when you are in a frightening situation or have no control like in the midst of an emergency. Conflict evokes this kind of stress for many, but it can also include moments like getting fired or making a silly mistake in front of the people you lead. It’s sudden and unexpected.
Tools that can help minimize this type of stress are being more self –aware and connected to your feelings, learning how to handle conflict, being more prepared, and having grace for yourself. You create extra stress when you expect perfection from yourself.
4. Encounter Stress
This could also be called “People Stress” because it is the strain that’s created when you worry about interacting with certain people or groups of people, or when you must interact with people on a regular basis. Examples would be a counselor, doctor, or teacher. Introverts might experience “people overload” and experience feeling being zapped of energy or overwhelmed following extended times that involve people.
To reduce encounter stress, focus on improving your people skills and growing your emotional intelligence.
When you are able to give stress a name (one of the four types above) then you can so something to remedy the situation –perhaps one of the solutions suggested above.
So how do you typically react to stress? That’s the second step!
If you fall into the avoid category, you might respond to stress by escaping, shutting down, or procrastinating. Regrettably this only increases and prolongs stress.
Essentially this is externalizing your stress – serving up big helpings of it on those around you. Stress is contagious! And as you unload you are reinforcing negative thoughts in your mind and advertising your fears rather than getting rid of your negative emotions.
Replaying events over and over again in your mind compounds the pressure! Whatever got you going…it isn’t going to get smaller by dwelling on it or focusing all your energy on it. It’s actually a way of meditating…and definitely not in a healthy way!
Instead of venting or complaining, you doubt or blame yourself for the stress you are experiencing. Just like complaining, it will keep you from taking responsibility in a productive and proactive way.
If you are prone to handling stress in one or more of the above ways, odds are that you are stuck, which creates more stress!
Finally, here are 4 ways to deal with stress:
1. Do What You Can Do
Stop dwelling on all the things that are out of your control and make your focus what you can do something about. Limiting your responsibilities – saying no more often, exercising, engaging in activities that bring you joy are all amazing ways to combat stress. What habits or skills do you need to work on?
2. Examine Your Thoughts
How you think about situations seriously contribute to your stress. Unrealistic expectations, unreasonable assumptions, and the flat out lies you tell yourself translate into unnecessary anxiety! Give yourself permission to slow down and reflect on your self-talk. Challenge your thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions.
9 times out of 10 your thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions are not true!
3. Make Adjustments
What tasks or responsibilities do you need to eliminate? Is it time to delegate? What new skills or habits do you need to learn so that you can operate more proficiently? How can you modify your schedule in a way that will serve you better? What other adjustments do you need to make?
4. Get Help!
Of course you need God’s help, but sometimes you don’t take your worries, struggles, and concerns to Him. You try to fix them on your own. With all the many distractions around you, you forget that He is with you every moment of every day ready and willing to help you!
You might also need the expertise of others like a coach to help you take constructive steps towards managing your stress.
It takes a confident person to seek out help. It’s foolish to not benefit from what experts bring to the table!
You aren’t the only one who experiences stress! I’ll let you in on a little secret: last week was stressful!
Technical problems are a big source of anxiety for me –that’s not my area of my expertise and I often feel helpless when issues pop up. This past week I faced a puzzling problem with my email program and some challenges with my website simultaneously. It kind of felt like the world was working against me! Those frustrating situations kept me from getting work done. Rather than shut down, I sought out help and pushed through the issues. Even though it consumed a big chunk of time, both issues were successfully resolved. In the process, I had to practice all four of the strategies above! And when it was all over, I felt pretty good about surviving the experience and trusting God to work out the details and even coming up with a creative solution on my own!
When I give into stress my brain gets fuzzy making it tough to come up with workable solutions. When I am able to remain calm I can work through stressful challenges, including technical ones, with a clear head. That’s when I am more than surviving stress – I am breaking free of it!
How well are you surviving the stress in your life?