Stress is a part of daily life because of inconveniences, unforeseen circumstances, differences of point of view, and many additional circumstances within or without our control. People cope with stress, in some positive, but mostly negative ways. This ability and the ability to recover is what makes us all unique. I’m sure everyone has heard of the impact of stress on your body and satisfaction in life. How many of you have compared your situation to another’s and asked questions such as “Why did this happen?” “What can I do now?” “How did they get over it?” Chances are that number is high.
We help clients understand that stress is the enemy of peace and must be used only as motivation to change an undesirable situation. An individual can view this barrier as a nonpermanent problem that can be solved, and this helps to increase motivation. Stress causes unpleasant emotions and reactions that we strive to prevent and reduce, and this increases awareness of our surrounding environments (people, places, things, ideas). Steps to identifying likely contributors include:
- Identifying and labeling your current emotion - This helps to determine if you are experiencing stress or an unfamiliar emotion, which may require a different strategy.
- Identifying preceding events - This allows the individual to identify a “trigger” or situation that has caused the stress. This will be helpful in planning to avoid, prevent, or prepare for future stressful time periods and can likely reduce overall stress.
- Identifying your beliefs about the current situation - sometimes a simple change of thought can reduce stress, i.e. looking on the bright side, rationalization of facts and events. Remind yourself that this is temporary visualize a day when the stress does not exist.
As you can probably see, stress begins in your mind and may be reduced by your mind's power. It is important to recognize the power your mind holds and access this power accordingly. There are also times when the situation can require more physical or behavioral work, and this is what I like to refer to as developing appropriate coping skills. This includes:
- Developing a strong support system. We have all experienced stress in our lives, a stable support system, aids solving the problem. Positive, helpful individuals or programs that can support you in utilizing learned skills and brainstorming solutions can work wonders to reduce stress. Look for good friends or parents' groups who understand your situation.
- Stress relieving activities. Sometimes the situation will require lots of time and patience. It may be hard to manage in coming stress, but you can release stress through other activities. Remember to do things that make you happy. Examples include: yoga, writing, exercise, reading, spending time with friends, etc.
- Thought Reframing. This allows the individual to identify unhelpful thought patterns that cause stress and change them to more helpful. Examples include: “If I don’t get this promotion, it means I am not good at my job”. “Everyone should like me because that means I’m a good person.” When you can identify these thought patterns and disprove them, you have a more realistic view of yourself and the world. This leads to one of two options, you feel able to change your situation, or feel able to accept a recent disappointment.
In summary, I would like the readers of this blog to understand a few things about stress.
- It is most likely changeable and will change over time
- It is a normal occurrence and you are not alone.
- It may require help from supportive people or programs around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.