In the last article, we talked about different kinds of stress and associated positive and negative impacts. The focus of this article will be on ways to manage worry effectively.
Let’s Jump Into Leading Techniques to Deal with Stress:
1. View it positively. How you see it makes all the difference. A study tracked 30,000 adults in the US for eight years and began by asking people, “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?” and “Do you believe that stress is harmful to your health?” Researchers then used public death records to find out who died. The results showed that people who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year and viewed it as harmful to their health had a 43% increased risk of dying. People who experienced a lot of anxiety but did not see it as harmful were no more likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including people who had relatively little strain. Changing how you view stress can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Furthermore, when you tell yourself, this is my body helping me rise to the challenge, you channel that energy to work for you and not against; you turn stress from debilitating to enhancing. Reframing it can provide a different look and open up an array of healthy possibilities to stare down the tension from an empowering position.
2. Get help. When you share with somebody how you are feeling instead of bottling it up, you can relieve some of the effects. When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you, there is a built-in mechanism for resilience found through human connection. When you reach out to others to seek support, you can bounce back more easily than if you choose to isolate yourself. You may be surprised that the very worry that you are convinced only relates to you is shared by others and more common than you think.
3. Play and laugh. The best antidotes to stress are play and laugher. It is hard for the human brain to think about more than one thing at any given time. You cannot be both pepped up and driven down at the exact same moment so when you find ways to laugh, you are reducing the stress emotion.
4. Get busy. Winston Churchill famously said, “I have no time for worry.” If you are doing something that involves planning and thinking, it is hard to fit in worry. Sometimes, taking your mind off the nagging worry will allow you to return to the problem on your own terms. What kind of project or task can you work on that will occupy your full attention?
5. Rehearse the worst-case scenario. Instead of having these uninformed nebulous catastrophic thoughts bounce around in your skull, you can think through the worst-case scenario which can shed new light. Perhaps we realize that it is not as bad as we are portraying it, or we discover the strength we need to get through the toughest times. When we visualize, more information can surface to assuage our concerns and we can plan to mitigate those circumstances.
6. Know it will pass. Believing in the idea that the stress is temporary and that there is nothing life could bring to you that is beyond your strength to endure. You can also ask yourself… how much is this thing that I’m worrying about really matter in the grand scheme of things? How much am I willing to pay for this worry, how much have I already paid?
7. Engage in future think. Picture yourself in the future, perhaps 1–3 years from now, and how you will not care about this trivial matter. It helps us visualize not being in this painful moment but in a more joyous time. When we are so ensconced in the short-term, we are filled with all kinds of emotions, but when we can shift our mind to the long-term, the more rational side can balance the emotional side.
8. System design. If there is a problem that is causing you stress, you can address it by designing a system to combat the problem. This involves the following:
A. Have a process: When people panic they make mistakes, they override systems and disregard rules. If you have a familiar process, you will be less stressed because you have prepared for this before and know exactly what to do.
B. Get started: Maybe the first thing you do is write down what is causing the problem. You do not even need to devise a solution, you just need to begin. You can even pretend you are somebody else objectively collecting facts for the problem. When you devote your time to research, worries tend to evaporate in light of knowledge and clarity.
C. Break down the stress: When you can dismantle something or look at it from a new angle, it loses its power over you. Don’t focus on the big goal, break it down into small pieces, and pay attention to taking the first step.
Other techniques can include: getting adequate sleep, regular exercise, mental downtime, taking vacations, doing controlled breathing, practicing yoga, mindfulness meditation, getting acupuncture treatments, walking in nature, journaling, being of service to others, and practicing loving-kindness to name a few.
The main takeaway is that we are not powerless to stress. When we proactively manage it, we will regain control and find more ways to be happy and fewer ways to worry.
Quote of the day: “It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” -Hans Selye, Father of Stress Research
Question of the day: What technique do you use that is not on this list? Comment and share below, we would love to hear from you!
[The next blog in this series 3/4 will focus on ways you can learn about the sources of your stress]