Dealing with stress: Some helpful tips and strategies
WASHINGTON – Have you ever been around a moody person? If you have, you’re already aware that you never know what type of behavior you’re going to encounter next. Or what innocent statement or incident might trigger that person to go off the emotional deep end. At times, even the thought of this person can overwhelm you with stress. And dealing with stress is one of the hardest things most of us confront.
Several times in the past week I have heard clients say they feel like they are “walking on eggshells.” That’s not a pleasant way to live. But it’s a lot like what you may encounter when working with a moody, unpredictable individual. Or when you run into some unexpected incident you’re not prepared for. All these and more can cause stress as well.
Easing some things in your everyday life can help reduce low level stress. Likewise, successfully dealing with stress you confront from the impact of moodiness or unexpected setbacks can put you in a better place. But how to do it?
Setting healthy boundaries and limits can reduce stress
Recently, I was in line at my local Whole Foods when I saw the cover of a recent issue of Time magazine. The cover page promoted the current feature, “The Science of Stress: Manage It. Avoid It. Put it to Use.” One of the articles included under that theme stood out to me. It was a piece by Audrey Noble, entitled “Simple Ways to Manage Your Mood.”
In the article, Noble provided useful statistics about stress. She noted that a Gallup poll found 8 out of 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. In addition, she observed that according to the American Psychology Association, the top three stressors were
- The uncertainty of the nation’s future,
- Money, and
Workplace stress, in fact, accounts for nearly $200 billion in health-care costs, according to Forbes.
In her article, Noble pointed out that healthy ways do exist for dealing with stress in your professional and personal life.
Here are a few tips for doing just that.
Focus on Intention
Direct your emotions involving upcoming goals or obligations toward positive feelings instead of habitually focusing on the negative. Practice feeling that positive feeling or emotion. Doing so will prepare you to carry that helpful mindset whenever your stress level starts to arise.
Set Realistic Expectations
We live in a world where everyone and everything pushes “bigger and better” into every aspect of our lives. That sets us up for failure. People feel can only experience less stress if they get a better this or a bigger that. Put aside those lofty but often unachievable standards pushed by others, and set realistic expectations instead. Focus on feeling gratitude for the things we all have in our lives that fulfill us.
Find a Confidant
When you’re with a certain individual or individuals, do you customarily feel little if any stress? Do you feel that you’re in a personal “safe space.” If so, get an outside, objective perspective from this individual or individuals. Being able to safely confide in someone and consider options can significantly reduce stress.
Change Your Mindset
Intentionally activating positive heart emotions such as care, appreciation, compassion and ease tends to decrease stress. The key to this approach is learning how to react positively to negative stressors as they arise.
Write It Down
Once you’ve identified what triggers you, what causes your stress levels to rise, write them down. Writing things down can be a therapeutic mode of expression. Once you write down and list your typical stressors, share them with someone you feel safe with at work or personally. Such discussions can help lead you to new, positive ways to counter stress.
Seek Peace and Love
Finally, spend five minutes a day to find something that brings you serenity. Listening to non-stressful music or finding quiet time for yourself can often help bring you to your own calming, peaceful space. And surround yourself frequently with caring friends or family. These and other affirmations of peace and love can help elevate your mood, enabling you to deal more effectively with stress when it occurs.