Every day you hear news about the terror attacks, rapes, hunger deaths, kids trafficking, betrayals, recession, crashing stock markets and so on. In fact, just watching the evening news is more than enough reason for you to get stressed out and lose a good night’s sleep. Have you wished to have better control of your life? Learning to cope with stress is one way of taking charge of your life. Regardless of how stressful your life is right now, there are ways to relieve the tension and regain control.
Life is never a walk in the park. In your quest to find happiness, you are sure to face lots of challenges, frustrations, and other forms of disappointments that only throw you off your balance. When life throws the unexpected towards you, stress can quickly overtake you and make your life somewhat miserable.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress, and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
– George Burns
Stress is a normal feeling of emotional or physical tension that comes from any thought or event that makes you feel angry, frustrated, or nervous. It is the reaction of your body to a challenge.
You can read about different types of stresses, stress response and leading causes of stress in the post
When it comes to stress management, there are different strategies you can use to cope with stress. I am discussing Four A’s of Stress Management in this post.
The Four A’s are: Avoid, Alter, Adapt and Accept
Before looking into the strategies to cope with stress, first, you need to identify your stressors.
1.Write a Stress Journal
Note down your stressors when you feel stressed out.
When you maintain a daily log, you will find your stress patterns.
You can write down the answers to below questions when you feel tensed
- What are the reasons for this tension?
- How did you feel? You can note down your physical and emotional feelings.
- What was your response?
- What did you do to feel better?
Once you understand your stressors better, you can cope with stress using one of four A’s.
How can you use these Four A’s to cope with stress?
Avoid Needless Stress
One of the best ways to cope with stress, and keep it from transforming into anxiety is by eliminating unnecessary stress.
We all know Stress is part of our life. If you analyze all your stressors, you will find that many of the stresses are unnecessary.
2.Avoid People who stress you out
Do you have a friend who always teases your look? Let him know that “you are uncomfortable with his comments!” If he continues to tease you, then avoid him whenever possible.
If a particular person is the source of your stress, cut him or her out of your life or limit your exposure to him or her.
3.Avoid Activities that stress you out
Do you always reach late to office? Do you often get nervous about being late to a meeting? Learn some time management techniques and learn to keep time.
Do you often think about past events? Do you compare yourself to others? Learn to be optimistic and improve your self-confidence.
Read on: why you lack self-confidence
4.Be more organized
Do you often waste lots of time searching things? Have you found your car key missing just before leaving for office? Being more organized and having a designated place for each item can help you cope with stress induced due to lack of planning.
Get your priorities straight and break down responsibilities into parts you can manage and focus on things that are important to you. Use a planner to keep track of your To-Do list.
5.Learn To Say NO
Do you often get stressed out by overwhelming work? It could be your office work or house chore.
Know your restrictions. You don’t have to do everything you are asked! Weigh the pros and cons of new commitments carefully and decide whether it will be worth adding it to your current workload. Learn to say a firm and polite NO. Speak in a clear and non-threatening tone and say no in a way that also respects others.
6.Learn To Delegate
Are you feeling overwhelmed as you are trying to do everything on your own?
Learn to delegate wherever is possible. Click To Tweet
Delegating work is possible only when you trust others and believe in their capabilities. Accept that others are just as competent at their jobs as you are. Even if, they are not, guide them to become more skilled as you. Giving more tasks to others will free you up for personal time.
For instance, you can ask your kids to arrange their rooms. Initially, even if they may not do it perfectly, eventually, they will be perfect at it!
Find people you can trust in your life with tasks that you’re too anxious or stressed to handle.
Give the responsibility of sending kids to school to your husband, if you are busy cooking in the morning hours.
Learning to say ‘No’ and delegating are meaningful ways to cope with stress caused due to tiresome or excessive workload.
7.Take charge of your environment
Do you get worried after watching the evening news? Nowadays, we rarely get to see any positive news. All the negative information around the world come to us through the news. Watch a comedy program instead of news in the evening.
Do you dislike washing dishes? Ask your partner to help you. Is the regular traffic to office stress you out? Choose a different route even if it is a bit longer. Are you tensed about weekly grocery shopping? Buy online.
Knowing what makes you unhappy or stressed is important in choosing the ways to cope with stress.
Alter the stressful situation
Sometimes you may not be able to avoid a stressful situation; then you can try to change it. Try to modify the way you communicate to others and function on a daily basis.
8.Be ready to compromise at times
We all grew up differently. Different life experiences conditioned us to be the way we are. If you expect every other person to behave just like you, you are going to get stressed out. Be willing to compromise whenever required, so that you can derive a happy middle ground in a stressful situation.
9.Be more Assertive
Are you bothered by your manager’s decision to pick your teammate over you for promotion? Communicate the same to your manager in an open and respectful way.
Is your friend wasting lots of your work time, by chitchatting, let him know about it.
It is important you express your feelings; else the stress will increase over time.
10.Have a balanced life
Work is one of the leading causes of stress. Try to bring a work-life balance into your life. Have time for family, play, and friends.
Include Relaxation techniques part of your life to cope with stress.
Have a favorite Hobby
It is easy to push hobbies away when you get stressed and anxious. When you do something you love, you will feel refreshed and able to cope with stress more effectively.
What was your favorite pass time in your childhood or college days? Can you incorporate that into your life now? If possible, restart it. If you can’t bring back your old hobbies, you can find out a new one.
Take a Warm Bath
When you are stressed, taking a warm bath will relax your muscles and help soothe away stress.
Go fishing, walk through a park or do anything that interests you in the outdoors. It’s difficult to experience stress when you are witnessing the beauty of nature. Nature has a magical way to help you cope with stress. Sunlight is known as a great cure for depression often tied to anxiety and stress.
Adapt to the stressful situations
If you can’t change or avoid the stressful situation, change yourself. Change your expectation and attitudes towards the stressful situations.
11.Identify the thoughts that lead to stress
When you experience negative thoughts, it triggers the release of the stress hormones.
Stress begins with your perception of a situation.
Are you stuck in traffic and feeling stressed out? What is making you stressed out? Change your focus to something else like listening to music or talk to your friends.
12.Change Your Perspective
Try to look at stressful situations from a positive viewpoint. Ask yourself:
What is the significance of the stressful situation in the long run?
How does it impact you in a month or a year?
Is this strain worth? If your answer is no, then change your focus to the big picture.
13.Try to concentrate on the positive side of all situations
Some people always expect the worst out of any situation and blow small problems out of proportion. This negativity will only instigate stress and anxiety. So always try to look at the positive side of any situations.
14.Avoid what if thoughts
Do you have internal conversations where you’re always wondering “what if” about the things you fear?
‘What if I’m late? , ‘What if I get sick?’, ‘What if they do not like me?’
15.Set realistic standards for you and others
Do you have a strict internal list of things you should, or should not do? When you fail to adhere to this list, you feel anxious or stressed. Perfectionism is known to be one of the leading causes of stress. Do not set very high standards for you and others. Failing sometimes is okay!
16.Write a gratitude journal
When you feel down, write down all the right things in your life. Note down all your good qualities, appreciations you got. Focusing on positive things will make you more positive about the current stressful situation.
Accept the situations you can’t change or avoid
Needless to say that you can’t modify or eliminate all stressors. For instance, the death of dear ones, recession or major illness.
When a stressful situation is unavoidable, there isn’t much you can do about it except accept it.
17.Focus on things within your control
Rather than stressing over things you can’t control, focus on things you have control over such as your reaction to the behavior of other people.
18.Learn from your mistakes
Even worse things happen for a reason. Look at your challenges as an opportunity for personal growth, or an opportunity to learn. Are you in the current, stressful situation because of your past decisions? Rather than pondering over the mistakes, make an effort to learn from them and move on.
19.Always have a mindset to forgive
None of us are perfect beings. We are all going to make errors at one point or another.
Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and we are all prone to mistakes. Do not carry anger and resentments. Instead, forgive yourself and others, free yourself from negativity.
20.Talk to a trusted friend
If you cannot do anything to the situation, you are in, sharing your feeling with a friend of confidence will help you cope with stress. Sometimes talking your heart out will help you look at the situation from a different perspective or even bring solutions to the problem.
In essence, to cope with stress, first, understand your stressors. If the stress is unnecessary, avoid the stressors. Try to alter the stressors, if you can’t avoid them. If you cannot change or avoid the stressors, you better learn to adapt to the stressors by changing your expressions and attitudes. Finally, accept the unavoidable stressors as part of life.
How do you cope with stress in your life? Please do share your thoughts as comments below.