Stress is like a stretched elastic band in your life. The same situations with stress can be improved in two ways:
- Reduce the forces and consequently how far the elastic band is stretched
- Lengthen the elastic band
Reduce the Forces On the Elastic Band
This first option is actually the more difficult one. Most causes of stress are not under our control so changing them can be quite difficult. This is however where most people spend their effort in dealing with stress. People tend to wonder why things don’t get better or why things happen to them and this typically builds up even more forces in that person’s mind making the stress worse since it doesn’t really address anything. The forces have to be reduced by having a situation relieved, by resolving some problem or perhaps seeing through some responsibility or even by reducing one’s responsibilities which are all ways to reduce the forces causing stress.
Lengthen The Elastic Band
The second option is to change what the stress acts on. The elastic band is you and when you lengthen the elastic band you are lengthening your ability to cope with stress. This comes in many forms, everything from controlling your state of mind to having tools that help you stay calm and less reactive to stress. Creating these internal tools with increase your ability to handle stress and lesson its impact on you.
Perspective and Mind Set
Perspective and Mind Set are the biggest factors to how well one can cope with stress. By perspective I mean how you look at those external forces and how you interpret them. It is easy to see many forces as a negative thing that increases your stress levels but often those perceived negative forces are leading you towards something good, or an opportunity in disguise. How you frame most situations has a large impact on the levels of stress that even will cause you. Mindset is similar but in a larger context. Learning to have the mindset of seeking out positive things in every situation will help you to find the elements of these external forces that are positive instead of negative so that you can keep your hope and optimism without being bogged down by what others might only see the downsides of. This kind of mindset shift will lengthen that elastic band and greatly increase your ability to reduce your stress.
Calm Your Body and Mind
Many simple tools exist for helping you to lengthen that elastic band to reduce stress and here are just a few examples :
- Learn to calm your body and mind with proper deep breathing – Slow deep breathing detoxifies the body and calms your mind.
- Engage in calming activities – Having some time to relax, be quite and especially having time for solitude can greatly improve your coping ability by easy quick tempers, reducing physical tension in the body and muscles and by giving your mind a chance to focus on something more enjoyable without having the stress building up in your mind.
- Prayer or meditation is another great way to relax the body and clear the mind of the forces pushing on it from stress. Being in tune for your inner spirit and God’s spirit will always help to ease the body and mind.
- Balancing your time with enjoyable activities – Changing your activities and engaging in something that is either fun or helps you to stay healthy and fit will greatly reduce your stress and increase your ability to cope with stress. Knowing when you need this and having the discipline to make it happen will lengthen that elastic band so the stress that you already have seem to have less and less of an impact.
Managing Stress Head On
Stress comes about usually from tasks or actions you need to take that can be overwhelming. It also is caused by situational events or things that have happened in your life that force change. Lengthening that elastic in this area means you have to expand your tools and knowledge to react intelligently to stress instead of emotionally. This is done by learning to prioritize your tasks and ensure you make yourself highly productive so that the stressful list of tasks can actually be reduced and managed. Learning to focus, prioritize your work and always ensuring you recognize progress and accomplishments will help reinforce this productive approach.
Staying organized will also help and can be combined with helping your productivity by using lists of tasks, recording and reviewing your accomplishments.
Having the courage to say no to non-important tasks that continue to arise is another critical tool to managing stress. When you are already overloaded or under stress, you should recognize the danger of this and minimize any new forces that will build on that. On the flip side of this, you also need to learn to ask for help and to accept help from others when you can’t manage well on your own. For more tips on handling stress, see my previous article on eliminating negative stress.
It Could Be Worse, It Could Be Better
Comparing to other situations and things that could be worse can help to raise one’s spirits. Any stress you have can almost always be compared to someone or some situation that would be even worse and looking at this helps us to appreciate and realize what we should be grateful for and appreciate. Often the stress we have is a result of our own abundance and what we consider to be a stress is often another person’s dream, especially when stress comes about from money or spending choices. We don’t often recognize that things could be so much worse, but when we do, we realize the stress is not really that important afterall. Do you have your basic needs in life? Do you have relationships to rely on and people that love you? Do you still have a life to live with your own freedom and choices of how to live it? Try these questions when you find stress to be overwhelming.
Most situations with stress could obviously be worse but dwelling on that for the future is also dangerous. You don’t want to focus on the future becoming worse as a result of stress so instead, you need to purposefully seek out making things better and surprise surprise, it usually will happen. Everyone has ups and downs and seeking out the ups and knowing that it could be better is what will enable you to make that happen as well. Seeking out good friends, fun activities and simply spending more time with positive people will help you to see the bright side. Keeping that mindset that it could be better will drive you to get what is better and no longer be burdened by your stress. Stretch out your own internal ability to cope with stress, lengthen that elastic band and enjoy a life with more freedom, pleasure and joy.
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