Let’s discuss what approaches to deal with difficult situations are effective in helping us manage our stress levels and increasing our abilities to cope with it.
The number one thing that can help you cope with stress is creating a strong support network around you. Studies over and over indicate that, when we feel supported, comforted, reassured and empathized with by people we love and respect, our abilities to handle stress greatly improve. Likewise, when we are alone, isolated and socially and emotionally disconnected, our strengths decrease considerably, and we are more vulnerable to external and internal stressors.
Do you have a strong support network? Remember that emotions always look much less scary and overwhelming when we have someone who can hold our hand, figuratively, and tell us that everything is going to be ok. Our fears, in particular, can be managed much better in these situations. So, think about how you can strengthen your support system – by being available to people who need you; by reconnecting with people with whom you have not been keeping in touch; by making an effort to reach out through your work, or your place of worship, or through your community or school.
One element that considerably increases your ability to deal with stress is knowledge. The more you know and understand about a situation that could cause stress, the more prepared you will be to deal with it. For instance, one situation that creates a lot of stress for most of us is our health. If we have medical problems, or if we need medical treatment or surgery, the more information we gather on what our condition is and the various treatments, the less stressed we are going to feel. So, get on the Internet and find information. Take the time to talk to your doctors and go to medical appointments with a list already prepared of all the things you want to ask. Go for a second or even a third opinion if necessary, and make sure that you know enough to feel comfortable with your level of knowledge and understanding. Being informed will help you better manage your anxiety. Also, make sure you bring a loved one with you.
Another element that helps you better manage stress is control. The more you feel you have a handle on what’s going on with you and what you need to do, the less likely you will be blindsided by something you didn’t see coming and thus didn’t have time to properly prepare for it.
So, write daily lists of what you need to do, and keep them in a place where, periodically, you can look at them. Consult them throughout the day, and check them off as you get them done.
Organize this list in terms of priorities, from the most to the least important, and make sure you don’t avoid what you don’t like to do! Pushing things aside, even though at first it can provide some relief, in the long run will make you more anxious. If you tackle these disliked things right away, it will reduce the level of stress for you.
These tips for stress management, and others we didn’t mention in this blog for lack of space, have the purpose of changing your assessment of stress. They do so by improving your views about your abilities, assets and strengths. This view, in turn, makes you see the stress as less overwhelming and intense.
Do you have some techniques that you found to be very helpful in dealing with stress? Can you share them with us?