Most people want to alleviate stress in their life; so much so, that they stress over it, but there’s actually a good reason to embrace stress. Stress can make us think and behave in various ways, but you can control stress by the thoughts you allow yourself to think, and by the way you allow your body to respond.
We often increase our own stress by losing sense of our personal power. We don’t set appropriate boundaries and then we become frustrated by the way people treat us. We say “yes” when we want to say “no”, and then we resent it later. We aren’t forthright in our word and may end up regretting it. We allow our thoughts to exaggerate our fears and we allow our fears to exaggerate our thoughts. When does it end? If you choose, it can end right now.
You can make stress work for you, rather than against you. It’s all a matter of understanding your emotions, what drives them, and knowing you have power over them. You have power over your thoughts; it’s a matter of perspective and making better choices. Once you have better control of your body’s response and of your thoughts, stress will feel different. You can understand it as a way of keeping you motivated and aware, rather than frantic and disoriented.
Here are six ways to change how you respond to stress:
1. Look at the complete facts in the situation. Set realistic goals based on what you know to be true and what you know you can achieve, even if you have to stretch yourself a bit. This will help you grow into who or what you can be, while maintaining a healthy level of stress. It will keep you motivated to move forward. By achieving little steps along the way and being realistic about what can be done, you will have successes to break the stress.
2. Put the situation in perspective. How will this look in 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Think about the situation and ask yourself a few questions: What is the worst thing that can happen? How probable is this? What is one thing I can do to stop the worst from happening? What is the best thing that could happen? How would this feel?
3. Take things one step at a time, practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the state of being in the present moment. This can be difficult as our brains are made to constantly search for dangers in our path. You have the capacity and power to bring your thoughts and focus back to the present. Breathing and body scan meditation exercises can help bring your attention and awareness to your present self, in the present moment. Even if your mind wanders, accept it as normal for your brain, then bring your focus back to your breathing or how your body is feeling in the specific moment.
4. Avoid “should” statements. Once you think or say “should”, your brain begins to emote guilt for not having completed what it “should”. Instead, think of what “could” be done or what “can” be done. You have the power to choose what action to take or what thought to believe – there is no “should” in life except what we pretend there to be.
5. Acknowledge that time is ever evolving – it will pass. Often, we put unhealthy time restrictions on ourselves or on events. Remember that everything has its time and place. If it’s not your time, perhaps it’s someone else’s. Be graceful and humble, your time will come when it’s right. Be ready for that moment. Plan ahead and schedule your time accordingly. Make sure you are prepared for the moments in your life, which at times may mean allowing the moment to unfold.
6. Every once in a while, just step back and look around you. Allow yourself to be in awe of the miracles of nature. Be grateful to be in this time and place, you are a gift to the world, and the world is a gift to you. Realize the vastness of it and recognize what is important to you – what will last and what will give you back tenfold what you put in. Not necessarily monetary value, but what will give you memories that make you smile, warm your heart, and which you will hold on to.
Once you change the way you think about stress, you’ll see a change in the way you respond to stress – in your mindset, in your response to certain emotions, and in the way you make decisions. You’ll feel a freedom like never before. You’ll want to make sure to continue this trend by making stress your goal!
Paige Dest is a certified Emotional Intelligence Coach and Core Values Index Practitioner. As the owner and President of BYODestiny, she provides emotional intelligence coaching to individuals and presents retreats, workshops, and national webinars on emotional intelligence and related topics. Paige is also the founder and President of The Flutter Foundation, Inc., a non-profit that supports Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs in Connecticut schools, and she has most recently been named the Global Mentor Coordinator for 6seconds’ POP-UP Festivals, celebrating World Children’s Day annually in November. She may be reached by emailing her at: paige@BYODestiny.com or by calling 1-860-550-1844.