By Georgina El Morshdy
Does stress get in the way of you being your best self?
We all have different stress thresholds. What overwhelms me may feel like a tiny niggle to you! What’s more, stress is unavoidable because it’s an innate response to life’s opportunities, circumstances, and challenges.
The good news is that some stress can be useful for you because it inspires focus and action.
But of course, there’s a flip side.
Besides detrimental health concerns such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, stress can impact your ability to show up as your best self.
Stress can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to manage pressure. It can spark nerves and panic, which reduces your emotional intelligence or ability to think clearly. In turn, it becomes harder to feel decisive. You can miss out on opportunities, too - believing you can’t cope with the pressure they’ll place on you. Stress can negatively impact your relationships as well - causing you to shut down or push people away.
When stress gets out of control, it can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life and your ability to achieve your goals.
That’s why it’s smart to have a series of techniques and measures in your toolbox - so you can better deal with stress when it does show up.
There’s a second benefit to knowing how to manage your stress.
The more you can cope with pressure, the more capacity you’ll cultivate to hold all that life has to offer - both the ups and the downs.
Check out these five simple, yet powerful strategies for managing stress.
1. Accept the moment as it is
A lot of the stress comes from resisting what is. Unfortunately, no amount of wishing can change the situation. What’s present is what’s present.
The problem with resisting the now is that you give away all your power.
It’s ok to feel angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, overwhelmed - or whatever emotion a stressful situation creates for you.
Don’t make your feelings wrong. Permit yourself to feel them.
Also, allow yourself to accept fully.
Acceptance can be painful, but it’s also a hard-hitting reality check that sharpens your focus. When you’re clear on what you’re facing, you’re better placed to take action and find solutions.
Breathing is one of the simplest and quickest ways to combat stressful moments and situations.
Deep breathing changes the way you feel by slowing your heart rate, allowing more oxygen into the bloodstream. This process increases the circulation of ‘feel good’ endorphins too.
A conscious focus on your breath also brings your focus back to the present moment. It grounds you in what is happening NOW - not what might show up in the future. The only time in which you can take action is the present moment. When you’re present in the now, you tap into creativity and get clarity over your next steps.
What’s more, breathing can be done anytime and anywhere - even during a busy commute or an uncomfortable conversation. It’s a practice you can do here and now, and this accessibility is powerful.
3. Create a stress log
Did you know that the average person has around 70,000 thoughts a day? Crazy, right? What’s more, a big chunk of those thoughts are low-level and repetitive meaning they don’t really go anywhere.
Stress and overwhelm can take over your thinking.
And when we’re worried about something, our minds can take us to all kinds of dark and intimidating places. As a result, we can find ourselves worrying about what might be - and often, the thought of what might happen is a lot worse than reality.
An overthinking, hyper-stressed mind has little space to breathe and let things be.
This is the power of a stress log.
Take all the things that are causing you stress and anxiety out of your head and put them on paper. You’ll find this is a powerful strategy to free up headspace and bandwidth.
See your stress log as an external brain - something that can hold everything safe for you, but without you needing to keep it in your mind.
This process is surprisingly healing…
The act of writing things down helps you organize and process information outside of your head. With a clear head, stress takes on a different weight. When you see what’s bothering you in the written word, you’ll find it easier to spot priorities. You’ll know where you’ve blown things out of proportion and you’ll also identify areas where you can take action.
There’s power in unleashing the ability to move forward.
A stress log will help you do that.
4. Track stress
Understanding your own stress response can be a huge help when it comes to managing your stress.
The more aware you become of your relationship with stress, the more proactive you can be in its management.
A stress tracker can be an invaluable tool for making your stress visible—[And what’s visible will always be easier to manage].
Use your log to track your triggers. You may want to rate the intensity of different situations and also make a note of whether the trigger is in or out of your control.
As you gather this information, you’ll start to see a pattern. In turn, you can implement measures and guardrails to reduce the occurrence and intensity of the stress you feel.
5. Take action
Stress can make you feel stuck and stagnant, and then the energy of stress compounds on itself leaving you feeling even worse.
Doing something when you’re stressed can help you work through the emotion and come out the other side feeling freer. Choose to believe there’s ALWAYS something you can do in any stressful situation - even if the situation is overwhelming and tough.
The Stress Dissolver Tool inside the Stress Management Pack is a useful tool that can help you understand the cause of your stress and plan your next steps.
Use this template to become the witness of the situation. Examine what’s happening from the outside looking in, and just like you can always advise a good friend, you’ll likely find some words of wisdom for yourself.
Just writing down an action plan can make you feel empowered - because at least you can see that there is a way forward, even if the road ahead isn’t perfect.
Are you looking for tools to help you manage stress effectively?
If so, check out the downloadable Stress Management Pack. Inside, you’ll discover a collection of six tools that will help you understand, manage, and dissolve the stress you feel in your life - so you can cope better with pressure and feel your best self.