During the last decade, one of the hot topics everywhere is about stress. Companies adopt programs, hire experts, build and implement programs, offer help to their employees on how to manage stress, etc.
But What really is stress and how to deal with it is still an open topic.
The word stress comes from the Latin word “stringere” meaning “to tighten”.
The Cambridge English Dictionary describes stress as:” Great worry caused by a difficult situation, or something that causes this condition.”
Through the centuries the word stress has meant different things to different people. In the 17th century, it was associated with hardship. In the 19th century, it was associated with people concerns about engineering work workload. Nowadays people talk about stress with reference to mental pressure in performing a task, or having some kind of situation wich is making them worry. Stress has become an inescapable part of modern life. If we have to describe it in the modern environment we can say that stress is caused by everyone’s rush and hurry with deadlines and is about pressure and reaction. It creates an imbalance between the level of demand, placed upon the single person and their capability to meet this demand.
Only if you can recognize what stress is and what causes it you can learn how to deal with it.
During the years of professional development, I have had to build my own system of how to recognize and deal with stress.
Before you do something else, you must first understand several basic things:
- Stress is normal for every living creature;
- Stress levels are individual and depend on persons characteristics and behavior;
- To successfully manage stress, you need to first recognize it
- To manage stress you have to be aware of the minimum, optimum and maximum level of distress for your personality.
- The minimum level of stress leads to no reaction. People with this level of stress are calmly sitting in their comfort zones.
- The optimum level of stress can be described as the level of stress causes productivity, creativity progress, satisfaction, and actual change;
- The maximum level of stress is the level that is associated with exhaustion, fatigue, low self-esteem, and frustration.
There are two different types of stress that the human can experience: Physical and Emotional. To recognize what type of stress you experience you must look at the signs you see in your body and behavior.
When experiencing Physical stress you must recognize it by following signs:
- Increase or decrease in appetite and sleep;
- Hot/cold waves and headaches;
- Dry mouth and breathlessness;
- Muscle tension and trembling;
When experiencing emotional stress here are the signs you must look for:
- Sense of failure and low self-esteem;
- Loss of interest, inability to concentrate and irrational thinking and acting;
- Loss of confidence, isolation, and withdrawal and tearfulness;
- In terms of feelings, when you are under big stress you can easily recognize this condition by exploring several signs:
- Low self-esteem
- Acting in a clumsy manner
- Feel less competent, guilty and overwhelmed
- Feel angry about most everything that goes in your way.
In an APA research, published in 2016 in American Psychology journal, researchers have found that in more than 80 percent of the stress situations people enter they invest more than 90 percent of the time worrying about something that may never happen. Stop and think: DO you want to be like those 80 percent of the people or maybe you want to effectively deal with stress. In 2013 Jack Ma (The Alibaba Group Founder) said in an interview that “The reason for stressing out comes from that people think about trouble things in life most of which have never happened.”
Bellow are 4 steps I have adopted to tackle the stress:
– Stressor identification – there is nothing more wrong then the situation causing you stress without you, knowing were this stress comes from. In each situation causing stress, there is a main reason called stressor. If you want to lower your stress levels you must first identify this reason;
When identified you need then to deal with the stressor for a particular situation. Just sitting and waiting for it to move won’t help you. You need to structure plan and actions helping you to lower stress levels. Your plan should be structured for each particular stressor or situation. Don’t try to generalize actions. Each specific situation demands specific actions.
unable to change: accept it
Some stresses cannot be managed or solved. If this is your case then you can put in action 2 strategies. The first strategy can be to move away from the conflict in a different area. The other way to handle stress is to start learning how to live with it. When pointing on this second strategy you will have to opportunity to know better the reason for the conflict and adapt your style of working and living, so that the stress will become a daily acceptable situation and you will learn how to be successful, without putting your energy in trying to solve the situation. That will lead to minimizing the stress level by accepting it and adapting to the stressor.
not accepted then better move away
There are some stressors that are more aggressive than a single person can handle. If you face a stressor that you cannot handle or accept then you must use the exit strategy. This strategy includes a plan to exit the stressing situation without creating additional stress for you. To do that you will need to plan ahead what activities you will take on to ensure your exit and minimize the impact of the stress your living can cause to others.
When under stress you need to pay attention to yourself and look after your mind and body. While planning and executing your strategy to minimize stress boost your self-image by:
- Accepting compliments from others
- Praise yourself when you do well
- Acknowledge your value by writing a short list of things you are good at
- Watch your body signals and answer to them(for ex. If your body needs a break give it to yourself)
- Write a list of things you like about yourself
To be sure that you are an energetic and wealthy focus on not stopping or hiding, but expressing your emotions:
- Accept that expressing feelings and emotions is OK. Don’t hide them or feel embarrassed to share them;
- Develop a network of supporters and conduct regular two-way communication with your network;
- Share your feelings with someone you trust
- Try to find more moments to smile and express positive emotions;
The last strategy you can put in practice is to actively try to distract yourself in a stressing situation. You can distract yourself from the stress by:
- Switching off from the stressing situation to recharge;
- Take a break(coffee break, short vacation days if needed, etc.)
- Use relaxing techniques such as yoga, meditation, etc.
- Relaxing your mind by moving from the stressor to thinking about something relaxing;
Stress is one of the deceases of the 21st century. People often don’t recognize the negative effect of stress before it is too late. To become part of the group of people who successfully manage stress in life and work you will first need how to recognize it and then fight it by building a longterm flexible strategy, able to meet different forms of stress and help you stay positive, productive and healthy.
Are you ready to heal yourself?….