When you’re up a hill with a heavy bag on your shoulder, which gets heavier with every step, it will slow and weigh you down. That’s what stress can do to a person. When it gets too much, everything feels difficult and you need to restore balance to your mind and body. This can be achieved by stress management and reducing the triggers that contribute to your stress.
In order to do this, try practicing the 4 A’s of stress management.
Sometimes the stress you experience is common and predictable to you. It could be due to a family gathering, a person you interact with or even your office workload. At such a time, try to avoid unnecessary stress. How?
Manage your surroundings. If you don’t long lines at the bank, try netbanking. In case you aren’t liking the food in your office, get packed lunch from home everyday. By tweaking your environment to your liking, you’ll avoid stress and feel happier.
Start saying “no”. In case you’re unable to do a favour for a colleague after work, say no. If you’re too tired to go out and meet your friends, tell them you can’t make it. Don’t run away from inevitable situations, but avoid putting yourself in stressful situations where possible.
Alter the situation
There might be some situations you’re unable to avoid, which cause stress. At such a time, alter the situation. This may mean you need to change the way you operate and communicate. Try to change the stressful situation in order to feel better. How?
Communicate your feelings openly. Start making ‘I’ statements to ease your own pressure. “I can’t work on this, because I am overloaded.” “I need some help because I am unable to understand this.” “I can’t help right now, because I need to study.” Be polite, assertive and respectful, and make it clear that you are under pressure and can or can’t do something because of it. Put your feelings out in the open, and you’ll be able to manage your stress.
Set boundaries. Be clear with others about how much time you have. Set deadlines with others with clear expectations and timings. Say that you will do a hard-stop at 4 pm for a brainstorming session, or you can only be contacted for related matters until 7 pm everyday. This allows you to have a better structure, schedule and proper downtime at home with your family. It will make you happier and reduce the amount of stress you have.
If you’re unable to alter and change the stressor, adapt and overcome. Changing your expectations and your behaviour will help you adapt during stressful situations is an effective stress management method. How?
Find your flow. Sometimes when you feel stressed, you need a distraction or an activity that sets you back on track. It could be listening to music, practicing meditation or mindfulness, going for a run or even cooking. By finding an activity that makes you feel good, making it a routine, you’ll find a flow that makes you happier, and stronger when stressed.
Look for perspective. Think about what’s stressing you out and evaluate it. Change the narrative of the stress in your head and you’ll be able to tackle it with ease. Ask yourself if this matters to you in the long run or if it will impact your life? If the answer is no, focus your attention and efforts onto more pressing problems. Confiding in a friend or mentor about your problems and getting a fresh perspective is a good idea too. As a result, you feel less overwhelmed and frustrated, and you’ll learn to manage stress better.
Practice gratitude. When everything is looking down and bleak, try to adapt your thinking and give yourself a boost. Take a moment to breathe and reflect on things in life you appreciate and make you happy, including your own strengths and qualities. It could be your pet dog who is always excited to see you, tasty food you will eat for lunch or how far you’ve come in such little time. Hence, sending gratitude to yourself can be very healing and key to stress management.
Accept the stress and situation
Some stresses cannot be avoided, altered or changed. In such cases, it’s best to accept your situation and try to find peace during troubling times. It will be tough, but it’s better than trying to change something you can’t.
Start to let go. Take inspiration from the song by The Japanese Popstars that goes, “You try too hard to keep control. Just relax and let go.” When there’s things out of your control, let them go and you’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders. Focus on things you can control and use that to channelize positivity within yourself and cope with stress.
Talk to loved ones. When it gets too much and you can’t do anything, you can still talk and vent your feelings. Your feelings are valid and matter, regardless of the situation. Sharing is a form of release and will make you feel much better about things and overcome stress.
Personal growth. Use these situations as ways of personal growth. You can’t control every situation, but they do teach you invaluable lessons. Let go of any anger or resentment, and have some sympathy for yourself. Accept them, free yourself and move on. Learn from the stress and see the positive side of things.
Take all these ideas into account and go into every situation with a positive mindset. This stress management technique is one of the few ways you can overcome and manage stress. If you feel overwhelmed and have prolonged stress, we suggest seeking professional help in order to take care of yourself.
Evolve has a special set of guided audios to help you proactively manage your stress.
Originally published at https://www.evolveinc.in on May 11, 2020.