We all have stress in our lives, it is unavoidable so the question becomes, how can we best manage that stress such that it no longer prevents us from being happy and productive.
What is stress?
Many people view stress as something external to them…problems with your job, your relationships, people around you that you can't deal with, situations in which you have limited control are all examples of what we think of when we think of stress.
What is largely ignored however is that stress is the IMPACT that these situations are allowed to have on our bodies.
That impact is emotional (anxiety, fear), chemical (adreneline, cortisol – fight or flight chemicals), and physical (tight muscles, non-functioning digestion, poor body language)
Mainly, the entire concept of stress describes the combined impact that a certain situation or thought has on our entire mind and body.
So it goes without saying that if we can somehow control the impact that these stressful situations have on our mind and body we can significantly reduce how stress affects our lives.
So what are some options for reducing stress?
1. Ignore it, pretend it's not there…seems intuitive, but for anyone who has ever tried this approach, you will know that most times this simply does not work. In fact, the attempt to hide our stress reaction buries it deeper and can have worse results than experiencing temporary bouts of stress. This is how chronic stress develops over time until you must seek further measures to relieve yourself of years of pent up stress. Stress becomes a bad habit at this point, a habit that is tough to break.
2. You can try and avoid it. Sure, to a point you can control your life to largely avoid those things that you know cause you anxiety, fear and frustration thus having an overall positive affect on your life by lowering stress. The challenge with this approach is threefold: 1) You may be avoiding good things along with the bad 2) You can't avoid many stress causing scenarios in your life, especially if it comes from your own thoughts and 3) You lose confidence in your own ability to stand up to stress when it does happen causing you more anxiety and a loss in self confidence
3. Change your outlook on how stress impacts your life. Again, not foolproof, but a growing area of research on stress shows that people who have an outlook on the things that cause us stress as making us stronger, making us work harder, as a necessary step on the path to success and happiness tend to be far better at controlling the negative stress in their lives. Basically with this approach you are short-circuiting the "typical" negative stress responses by changing the rules of the game (in your mind) to see the stressful situations you experience as GOOD rather than negative. According to this study, the results are rather profound showing that people using this approach to reducing stress see some very positive results.
There is no single silver bullet when your goal is to reduce stress in your life, it takes a broad range of practices and changes to reign in the negative impacts of stress on your life. You can place yourself in more non-stressful environments, change your outlook on the role of stressful situations in your life and use techniques like meditation and relaxation to help keep stress at bay – many of these techniques are outlined in the life-enhancing Attracting Greatness Guide.
The end benefit is to be yourself, play to your maximum personality and productivity and have a deeper sense of self confidence, happiness and fulfillment…outcomes that are all worth the effort.
How do you handle stress?