Stress can be caused by a multitude of issues ranging from mild anxiety to panic attacks. We all get stressed out from time-to-time. Dealing with it means understanding why it happens and having a plan to promote stress relief and reduce anxiety. Depending on one’s resilience levels stress can impact each of us differently. What is a minor annoyance for one can be an emotional breakdown for another. It can also manifest itself in a variety of ways from profuse sweating to angry outbursts. It can also be controlled using many of the same techniques as dealing with anger.
The Importance of Self-Awareness
All individual change starts with an honest assessment of ourselves. When do you experience stress and how do you react to it? Your reaction might vary depending on your environment, how well rested you are or who you’re with. The key lies in beginning to recognize patterns in what cause you to get stressed out to begin with.
What you may find is the issues are really more about you, and your reaction, than any external conditions. Winston Churchill once infamously stated, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Do you tend to blame others for your issues? Is your first thought when something goes wrong an excuse? If so, then it is you that needs to change. Why? The only thing you can truly change is yourself. Trying to change others is just about control, which is borne of fear, not strength. This is great news because your path to experiencing stress relief and and your ability to reduce anxiety is in your hands!
How to Achieve Stress Relief – Avoidance
Once you have identified what causes your stress determine if it is something that can be avoided. If an individual causes you to become continually upset do you have the option of removing them from your life? This should be relatively easy if they are just an acquaintance. Ask yourself, “does the value they bring to your relationship outweigh the angst?” There is little value in being constantly stressed out by having someone toxic in your life if eliminating them from your day-to-day is possible.
Quite often eliminating toxic people from your life is not so simple as they could be your boss at work, a family member or a teammate. In that case try to avoid putting yourself into positions in which you typically get stressed out. Work with your boss to suggest a different, mutually beneficial, solution. Suggest to your relative that you not talk about politics when together or use your persuasive talents to convince your teammate that their actions are hurting the team’s success. If all else fails simply engage in minimal, but always positive, interaction wherever possible. Remember, it’s not your job to make someone else happy, only yourself. Be reasonable, polite and fair at all times but remain resolute. Your ability to reduce anxiety will increase, not only for yourself, but for those around you as well.
How to Achieve Stress Relief – Acceptance
Consider the words of Gandhi: “You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it.” This principle is vital to embrace. Victor Frankl understood this and it helped him to survive the Nazi death camps. Ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish in any given situation. Is it more important to be right or to be at peace? You might be absolutely justified in your reaction but does it truly serve your emotional needs?
Once you accept that stress will inevitably occur you will begin to give it less relative weight. It won’t take you so much by surprise. To help in this approach it is vital you have a plan for how to deal with the next time you get stressed out. To reduce anxiety and feel less stress you need a plan . . .
Don’t Wait Until You Get Stressed Out
Like change, stressful situations are inevitable. The better you’re prepared for it the better you will be able to handle it when it occurs. If a co-worker insists on continuously provoking you devise a strategy of deflection. Try different approaches, like moving the conversation toward a more productive direction (without being obvious). See what works but never take the bait! If driving on the freeway during rush hour freaks you out then consider a different route. You may have to leave earlier but you will arrive in a much healthier frame of mind.
No matter the issue it is important that you are resolute and determined to affect change. The next time you feel stress, really feel how painful it is and store that awful feeling in your conscious memory. Use this memory as incentive to try a different approach in future so you’ll never have to feel that pain again. Stay positive and really work to reduce anxiety and build a strategy for stress relief.
How to Help Someone Else with Their Stress Relief
Sometimes it is our loved ones that suffer from stress. Encourage them to talk to you about it in a safe, non-judgmental, open and honest way. Allow them to vent and express their pain until they have fully expressed themselves. At that point remain supportive so long as the conversation continues toward some resolution and doesn’t dwell on perpetual complaining.
Help them see their stressful situation as an opportunity to learn more about themselves as opposed to dwelling on the stress. As long as they are growing and improving, each subsequent stressful moment has the potential to become a positive learning experience. As painful as it can sometimes feel, we only grow through adversity so learn to embrace it.
How to Reduce Anxiety
There are numerous ways to cope with anxiety and stress that are relatively low maintenance. The best way is to have gratitude. Make a list of the things you are grateful for and look at it constantly. This can help put some stressful moments in context even as they are occurring. Always remember that stress and anxiety are not permanent states.
It always helps to keep things in context. When we employ active empathy we tend to stop judging people in an immediate knee-jerk manner. We begin, instead, to put ourselves in their shoes and to see a situation more through their eyes. This allows us to stay more calm, level-headed and reasonable. It also helps reduce our tendency to complain when things don’t go our way. The calmer we remain the more likely others will respond in kind. This opens up opportunities for resolution instead of heightened conflict. All of these things apply to ourselves as well . . . be gentle and forgiving with yourself. We all make mistakes.
Finally . . .
Don’t think in terms of completely eliminating all stress from your life. That simply isn’t reasonable. Moreover, some stress is not only natural but also healthy. It is our body and minds way of alerting us to danger. The goal, instead, should be to control what you can and put all other moments in context. Coping with stress and anxiety will become easier if you know when and where it affects you and accept that there are benefits to discomfort if your mental approach is correct.
Learn from your mistakes, try not to repeat them, forgive yourself when you aren’t perfect and your life will improve.