6 Simple Ways to Manage and Overcome Stress
Put your ego down and ask for the help when you need it.
Life and business are anxiety provoking every single day. Yet, a certain amount of stress is necessary to drive motivation and hard work. The kind of stress that creates deep, painful feelings of anxiety is usually situationally based and short term. We are most easily hijacked by feelings of anxiety when we are under the pressure of uncertain outcomes or circumstances. The most effective way to deal with intense anxiety is to reconnect to yourself. Here are six ways to manage stress effectively so we can live our lives feeling emotionally abundant rather than emotionally drained.
1. Take a minute.
Whenever we’re stressed and feeling as if our lives are out of our control, it's critical we learn to take a mental and emotional "time out." We need to take a minute and calm the reactive nature of our mind so we can work towards embracing the understanding that our lives aren't out of control, it is simply the situation we're in that feels out of control. We must remind ourselves that all things come to resolution eventually. When we’re feeling anxious it is common to try and push the river as a method of ridding ourselves of the painful and intense emotions we are feeling. However, forcing situations to their closure often comes a greater cost than dealing with the current levels of anxiety we’re feeling. Take a minute and remind yourself that giving things a little space is sometimes the best way to bring uncertainty back to certainty.
2. Balance what you can.
When times are tough, we have to take hold of the areas of our life we can exert a reasonable amount of control over, such as eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, exercising and limiting our intake of alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine is known to trigger and even cause panic attacks, especially if it is used to supplement for a lack of sleep or used as a meal replacement. When we balance our body physically and chemically, stress is much easier to manage and cope with.
Feelings of extreme stress or anxiety cause us to take short and shallow breaths which doesn't provide our brain with the necessary oxygen to think rationally and critically. When we can force ourselves to slow down and focus on taking slower, deeper breaths it grounds us almost immediately, and things begin to feel less hopeless. If our stress feels so severe that slowing down to breathe for a minute feels impossible, force yourself to count to ten, and count slowly. Focusing on numbers takes us away from focusing on the circumstances we cannot control. Breathing not only soothes anxiety but it puts us back in touch with the present moment allowing us to be more conscious of our thinking and decision-making processes.
4. Hard work
Sometimes the best way to beat stress is take stay in action. We can work our way through nearly anything. We must possess the “never give up” attitude regardless of how pressured and exhausted we may be feeling. Hard work keeps us active, focused and in search of solutions to our challenging and stressful circumstances. As long as we’re working hard, we’re likely making some sort of forward moving progress towards our goal. Hard work keeps us focused on solutions rather than problems.
5. Stay positive
It takes zero effort to think negatively when under stress. We must do all we can to manage the thoughts which travel through our mind and force our thoughts to be hopeful, positive and flexible. The more fixed and rigid we stay in a defeatist mindset, the more we limit our ability to be innovative when trying to find solutions. We must not allow our fears to hold us back when we’re under stress, but to push us forward. The more hopeful and positive we stay, the better our quality of life and the more open we keep our decisions to out-of-the-box solutions.
6. Seek advice
Stress shuts our thinking process down. We tend to hold fixed ideas about how we think things in life should turn out, and fixed ideas about how we want them turn out. However, these fixed ideas may be in opposition to how things are actually going in reality. When we cannot get ourselves out of a painful rut into workable solutions, it is wise to seek advice from others who are more experienced. This outside advice can do wonders when it comes to opening our mind and making us feel less alone and more supported. We all need support. People want to help other people. All we have to do is put our ego down, ask for the help we need and remain open to new ways of thinking.
Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.