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Stress has got a bad name lately, but believe it or not, we need stress in our lives. Because stress is what gets us up in the morning, gets us to work on time, gets the project done, pays the bills and keeps our schedules running. However, it’s when we have too much stress in our lives or it’s not managed well that it can cause problems for us.

In short, the benefits of stress of are:

• Increased motivation and drive
• Renewed energy
• Attention to detail and accuracy
• Increased self confidence
• A sense of purpose and goal

But when we have too much stress or it’s not managed well it can have a negative impact on us.

The consequences of too much stress are:

• Depression
• Resentment anger and irritability
• Short and long term memory deteriorate
• Self-confidence decreases
• Drug and alcohol abuse increases
• Interests and enthusiasm decreases
• Sleep patterns are disturbed
• Withdrawal from others

The way each of us thinks plays a big part in how stressed we will become.

Have you noticed that some people will be stressed by an event and others won’t be? A personal example is driving in the city. I get totally stressed by it, but my husband doesn’t. The difference is the way we think about it. Basically, I have negative thoughts about it, like” We will get lost, we are going to crash, etc”. My husband thinks differently, he thinks “we’ll be right, if we get lost we can find another way, we are not going to crash!”

It’s our different thoughts that impact the outcomes. For instance, my thoughts make driving in the city stressful for me and I avoid it like the plague. However, husband’s thoughts don’t make him stressed at all, so he drives in the city no problem!

Thoughts that make us stressed can be labled “stress building beliefs” and come in different shapes and sizes.

Are you a perfectionist?
Do you:
• Feel a constant pressure to achieve?
• Criticise yourself when you are not perfect?
• Feel you have not done enough no matter how hard you try?
• Give up pleasure in order to be the best in everything you do?

Do you have to have control?
Do you:
• Have to be perfectly in control at all times?
• Worry about how you appear to others when you are nervous?
• Feel that any lack of control is a sign of weakness or failure?
• Struggle to delegate projects to others?

Are you a people pleaser?
Do you:
• Worry what everybody else thinks of you?
• Avoid doing things because you are afraid of disappointing others?
• Care for others more than for yourself?
• Keep most negative thoughts inside to avoid displeasing others?

Do you question your competence?
Do you:
• Think that you can never do a job as well as other people?
• Feel that your judgement is poor?
• Tell yourself you lack common sense?

If you answered yes to any of these, that’s a stress building thought!
My driving in the city stress comes under the competence section. I think I’m not competent to drive successfully in the city, this makes me stressed and makes me avoid it.

Management Strategies

The good news is, stress can be managed: Let’s use a CRASH acronym.
Control analysis
Relaxation
Adjust to the stressor
Stress reduction
Healthy lifestyle

Control Analysis
• Determine what you can and cannot control
• Accept you cannot control the uncontrollable
• Try to keep a positive frame of mind
• Practice the art of forgiveness

Relaxation:
• Controlled Breathing
• Meditation
• Invest in positive social networks
• Engage with activities and interests that you enjoy doing every day

Adjust to the stressor:
• Adjust your expectations
• Express your feelings in a safe way instead of bottling them up
• Practice compromise
• Practice appropriate assertiveness

Stress reduction:
• Learn to say “no” and implement appropriate boundaries
• Avoid the people that distress you
• Stay away from discussions that cause conflict

Healthy lifestyle:
• Get sufficient sleep
• Exercise regularly and appropriately
• Eat a healthy diet
• Reduce caffeine and sugar intake

Because I sometimes now have to drive to the city for work, I am working on my stress management so that I can do it successfully. For instance, some of the things I do are : I make sure I plan my journey well, have Google Maps on, leave plenty of time to get there, practice deep breathing, have soothing music on and tell myself over and over “you can do this, you have done it before, if you get lost you will find another way”

In conclusion, there’s no way we can eliminate stress from our lives, the goal is to manage it. If you would like some help to manage the stress in your life, feel free to make an appointment with me via this link. Appointments can be in person or online.