Manage Your Stress By Facing It Head On
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Center Career Transition & Job Search Coach | Certified Stress Management Coach
Are you tired of hearing the same old suggestions for how to manage your stress? Not to say that they aren’t good ideas for the most part. Some proven stress management strategies include yoga and cardiovascular exercise, for example. Others include practicing meditation and getting more sleep. Additionally, using time management tools can help as well.
There are other ways to get yourself out of your stress rut, though, that can be fun and are very doable. These methods can cause other improvements such as improving your health. And they can lead to more positive thinking.
Most stress-management advice is to avoid things that stress you out. You're told to keep those negative thoughts at bay. Think positive thoughts instead.
But what if you decided to look stress straight in the eye and let yourself worry and fret freely for a while? Might that help get it all out of your system once and for all?
Try Sitting with Your Stress for a While
Instead of avoiding it, what if you took your stress on as a project? Might you then be able to see it with fresh eyes? Take a time out and sit with whatever is causing your stress and see if that helps.
The fact is that by turning away from your stress it and avoiding it, you often give what is worrying you even more power. You might avoid the stressor in the short term, but it always comes back. And when it does, it can feel even stronger than before. It will continue to try to pull you down.
When you get to the bottom of what’s bothering you, it may be easier to find a solution than you thought. So, consider staring the problem in the eye for a change. You may be able to put an end to the issue if you give it your full attention and problem solve it instead of avoiding it.
Talk it Out
Talking about what is stressing you out is one of the best ways to figure out ways to deal with it. Whatever the issue is, find someone to talk to about it. You may be able to confide in a good friend. Perhaps your minister would be a good confidant. Or you may need to find a good coach or therapist, depending on the nature of the problem.
If the problem is of an emotional nature or stems from your past, a therapist may help. If the problem stems from your career and concern about your future, you may want to hire a career or success coach.
Taking stress head-on is like turning on a light in a dark room. Things suddenly take form and snap into shape. It’s also like hitting a loaded piñata with a baseball bat. Once it falls apart and you can see what’s in it. You can decide what you want to keep and what you can throw or give away.
Another good thing that can come from facing your stress head-on is that you’ll get in touch with your symptoms. That may help you find the best solution.
For example, if your neck and shoulders ache, you may you realize that too much stress at work is making you tense. The tightened neck muscles will hurt after a while. One solution is to take more breaks. Go get a full body massage. Learn some neck and shoulder exercises. Or just take a walk.
It's difficult to take time out of a project when you're being productive and have a deadline. But it can make an incredible difference for your body to take frequent breaks. Long-term stress on the body causes serious health problems. Because of that, it's important to confront your stress and get a handle on it. Stress gone unchecked affects your digestive, muscle, heart and immune systems.
Stress can also cause mental problems as well as physical problems. Lack of mental acuity can make you less productive and more prone to accidents. By confronting the stress that causes mental slowdowns, you can find ways to deal with the stress. And you will regain your mental alertness.
Some jobs are more "high stress" than others. Police officers, for example, have to deal with acute stress that is job-related. So do emergency room doctors and nurses. Firefighters and other first responders also deal with a lot of stress in a short period of time. High stress that occurs in a short period of time is called "acute stress."
First responders are not the only ones who experience stress, however. New parents, newlyweds, someone who has just lost a loved one. Someone who just lost a job. These are all stress-related events.
And the group of people I deal with most--teachers--are also subject of high amounts of stress. Teachers complain of increasing workloads and demands on their personal time. They also sometimes struggle with difficult classroom management issues. If you throw in a weak administrator and unsupportive parents, you have the perfect recipe for too much stress.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you ignore the fact that you're stressed at your own peril. Stress can cause serious health issues like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. It can even contribute to the onset of Diabetes Type II and certain types of cancer.
If you start to feel overloaded and overwhelmed, you need to face what is going on instead of ignoring how you feel. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you ARE overwhelmed. You don't need anyone's permission. You feel the way you feel.
The real trick is to find healthy ways to cope with what is happening so you can ease the stress and strain on your body. In fact, you need to do this for your body, mind, and spirit.
If You Don't Know Where to Turn
If you are at a loss as to where to turn, seek help from a therapist. Your stress may be the result of a specific incident such as an accident or physical or mental abuse. Many people suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a particularly stressful event. Soldiers who have come home from service abroad often report symptoms of PTSD. But they are not the only ones who exhibit the symptoms of PTSD.
The bottom line is that you don't have to suffer in silence, and indeed, you should not suffer in silence. Please talk to someone. Reach out to a counselor, minister, family member, or friend. Don't try to handle everything by yourself.
Don't let stress get the best of you. Life should be enjoyed. And since I want you to enjoy your life, please accept my gift, Stressed, Stretched, and Just Plain Overwhelmed. I wrote that ebook after experiencing a lot of stress myself a while ago. I am also a certified Stress Management Coach, so I hope you will accept the gift. And I hope you will find some of the strategies offered in it useful.