How do you manage your stress, or are you just ignoring it? Many of us think we are handling our stress well, yet when the topic of "stress management" comes up, many of us have no set strategies or plans that we can lay out or utilize to help us manage our stress during difficult times. Unfortunately, this is part of the problem, we wait until our bodies are shouting at us before we are willing to take control.
Before we talk about ways to manage stress, let's look at what stress is and how it works for us and against us. Stress is the body's way of protecting us from potential danger. The surge of adrenaline, the faster breathing, increased heart rate, all give us added strength and energy to either fight or flee from a danger. Unfortunately, this defense mechanism tends to be abused. We see too many things as life-threatening that need not be.
There are good stressors too, in fact some stress is seen as healthful. Falling in love, winning a race or getting a promotion are all stressors important ones! Life would prove to be very boring without them.
Some of the more typical causes of excess stress are the daily traffic jams, difficult people, noise, time pressures and work overload, but more importantly how we perceive these sometimes daily events has more to do with the amount of stress we create for ourselves. Therefore, stress management needs to be an ongoing daily thing. Planning our work and working our plan is still the best method.
The three C's of daily stress management are commitment, challenge and control.
Commitment means believing in and feeling a deep involvement with one's self, family, friends, work, and moral convictions. When we have this support in place, and generally have a healthy respect for family and friends, we are more apt to turn to our support network to help us through potentially stressful situations.
People who view life changes as challenges are less likely to feel powerless in stressful situations. Rather than seeing the loss of a job as the end of the world, this person will view this seemingly "negative" change as an opportunity for positive growth.
Self-determination or control, is a third significant factor in successful stress management. People who feel their situation in life is beyond their control are more likely to feel helpless when faced with a new or challenging situation.
Daily practice of these ideals is necessary for managing stressors in our lives. By developing the three C's commitment, challenge and control toward life, you can control stress before it controls you.
Till next time, Rebecca.