6 Ways To Get Control of Your Stress
Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Stress is not always a bad thing.
In daily life, we often use the term "stress" to describe negative situations, i.e “I am soooo stressed.”
This leads most people to believe that all stress is bad for you, which isn’t really true.
Stress is simply the body's natural response to changes that create taxing demands.
While yes, some stress is negative, stress can also be positive.
Positive stress is called “eustress” and its characterized by stress that motivates, focuses energy, is acute, and usually feels exciting.
The flip side is the stress we all complain about, negative stress or what’s called “distress.”
It’s everything eustress is not. It causes anxiety, causes declines in mental or physical health, is often chronic or ongoing and feels draining.
Because everyone responds to stress uniquely, it’s hard to categorize stressors as being either eustress or distress. It’s not black and white because we all react to different situations differently.
But in general examples of positive stress could be a promotion or raise at work, getting married, moving or buying a new home, having a child, going on a vacation, the upcoming holidays, etc.
Negative stress examples could be the death of someone you love, unemployment or financial issues, divorce, injury or illness, legal problems, job insecurity, conflict in your relationships either at work or at home, etc.
Negative stress can be caused externally, but it can also be caused internally. Believe it or not your feelings and thoughts, even your habitual behaviors can cause chronic negative stress, the kind of stress that manifest itself physically, in gastrointestinal distress, altered bowel movements, headaches, acne, joint pain, chronic fatigue, weight gain, loss of sex drive, frequent cold or illness, etc.
For example internally caused stress could be the result of fears, excessive worrying, unrealistic or perfectionist expectations, even negative thought patterns or toxic self talk.
You may even have some stress causing habits or behaviors- things you do without really “thinking” about it like a tendency to people please, over- scheduling or managing your time poorly, even failing to be assertive or advocate for yourself and your needs.
And when it comes to negative stress- the MOST COMMON IS INTERNALLY CAUSED.
Meaning you’re stressed because you’re making yourself stressed. Not because of something going on around you but because of what’s going on within you.
The good news in this is that if internal stress is self caused it also therefore self alleviated.
Some basic tips:
1- Take control of your perspective. Assign a rating to your stressor, with 1 being a minor hassle to 10 being a total catastrophe. You’ll likely find that most of what you get worked up over falls somewhere in the 2 to 5 range and this will help you get things into perspective.
2- Learn the art of saying no. Be clear about your limits.Boundaries are healthy, both for you, and for those around you. I know that it's not easy, but it's worthwhile to release the desire to please everyone all the time.
3- Plan ahead and organize your time so that you are not constantly feeling rushed, overwhelmed or chaotic. Having a plan in place creates calm.
4- Let. it. GO. Control what you can let go of what you can’t. Once you've done your best to deal with a situation, that’s all you can do.
5- Progress not perfection is an annoying overused quote but there is truth to it. Trying to be “perfect” creates a whole lot of unnecessary stress in your life. Don't be too hard on yourself or overly critical. Like I say to my clients “give yourself some grace.” We ALL make mistakes. Learn and grow from them and move on.
6- Use positive self talk. Sit down and compose a short, positive affirmation that you can use if you struggle with negative self talk. If you catch yourself spiralling down the rabbit hole of “I can’t” “I’m overwhelmed” repeat your mantra (example: 'I feel calm, I can handle this' ) to help relieve stress.