Stress is consistent in life. And like we all know good or bad it reminds us that we have things going on. Stress management is more than remaining calm and taking deep breaths. Stress needs to be dealt with more intentionally just like our day-to-day tasks. When stressed we are faced with options in which to manage it before we react. Sometimes our emotions take over before those options can be weighed. Choice behavior determines your coping and the outcomes you experience. How do you do it?
The ways in which we handle stress determines the outcomes we experience. The law of cause and effect fits nicely here. Our thoughts and words, in this case, are the cause that sets out to create the effect. There are 3 approaches to stress I would like you to consider and their outcomes.
If you are not practiced in expressing or being honest about your feelings, internalizing your feelings is more apt to happen. In stressful situations, the first response should not be to panic or feel defeated. The first line of defense is to be aware that stress made you feel some way. Blocking the way, you feel or trying to tuck it away like it doesn’t exist is the definition of internalizing it. This only leads to mental anguish.
Holding stress inside effects the way your body functions, it causes you to be unbalanced. Your immune system is weakened, muscles are tensed, the nervous system releases hormones. These are just a few of the things that take place. One of the hormones released is called cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels are linked to weight gain, blood pressure and it interferes with learning and memory. There is much more to mention here, but I think this paints the picture well. Internalizing stress doesn’t stay on the inside it shows manifestations that show up on the outside.
Engaging in self-destructive behavior only leads to more stress. Any behavior that causes self-harm is not good. Some of the popular go-to behaviors involve drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, overeating, isolating yourself or engaging in promiscuous sexual relationships. Not one of these serves to fix the stressful event, they only offer added consequences to deal with. If being self-destructive feels like it’s your only option, seek help right away. Some activities may feel good at the moment you are doing them, but don’t be fooled they do take something away from you each time. It could be your confidence or your character, the point is they don’t add anything beneficial.
It’s important to know your limitations when it comes to stress. This helps you become aware when the pressure gets to be too much. Don’t hesitate to call in help and support from people you trust. Have more than one person you can reach out to just in case you can’t get a hold of the first person. When stress has you on the verge of self-destruction, it is not the time to feel you are invincible. Look intentionally for the best outcome at the moment. We are not always given another chance or a redo.
Adaptation is a part of survival. It is not just for the animals. It’s for us as well. I like using the term adaptation when talking about stress because it illustrates the planning process. As I wrote at the beginning of this blog, stress is consistent in life. We can create a stress management plan that works for every stress we may encounter. The challenge in creating a plan is creating points that will be useful to you in a stressful situation. Keep in mind something that works for someone else might not work for you. Consider the following points for your stress management plan.
Stress Management Plan:
- Be calm, don’t think the worst.
- In any situation, first get all the information and gain perspective on the situation.
- List all possible options for outcomes.
- Get support. It helps in some cases to get a different point of view of the situation.
- Own your contribution to making something stressful, then make moves to improve.
- Express frustration without allowing it to consume your whole day.
- Don’t take on anyone else’s energy that doesn’t help the situation (panic, angry, anxious).
- Engage in relaxation techniques like, meditation, bubble baths, listening to music, etc…
- Work off stress energy by exercising, ride a bike, take a walk, or go for a run.
- Breath and know that you will make it through.
Stress is not going anywhere soon, yet we don’t have to let it take control of our lives. You have a choice in how you will handle your day-to-day stress. Even the sudden episodes of stress don’t have to end your game. I have given you some points to consider. The next time stress comes your way, it’s okay to pause for a moment and determine your coping strategy. The truth is, you do have the last say when it comes to dealing with stress.