In today’s world, it is clear that stress can have an enormous negative impact on people. It ultimately robs us of our ability to operate effectively and to enjoy life fully. When coaching clients ask about stress, I often share the following ways to begin to interrupt the natural progression of stress. Here are a few to think about. Give yourself room. It is helpful to remember that it is completely natural to experience stress from time to time. When this happens, allow yourself time and space to experience just how you are being impacted. A natural response to serious events, or numerous events that require your attention at the same time, is to sometimes become numb, distracted or angry. This takes away our ability deal with the situation in an effective way. It helps to create a distinction between what stress is and what causes it. Stress is not based upon outside sources but rather how we perceive a circumstance and then react to it. Observe your reaction. The key here is to react appropriately to “what’s really happening” rather than “overreacting.” How does one know if he or she is overreacting? You can begin by making a distinction between “what’s actually happening” versus “what you think about what’s happening.” This will open up unseen possibilities as to how to handle the crisis. As you start to action your stress will begin to disappear.
Another thing that I have noticed is that most people experience stress when they are feeling like something is out of their control. There are many demands and expectations that are placed on each of us, from others and from ourselves, and we often fall into the trap of mistaking these expectations as the way things “should” or “must” go. To deal with stress that results when our expectations go unfulfilled, I invite you to try letting yourself be 100% present to a situation, to watch the events unfold rather than trying to force those events to conform exactly to your expectations. For example, even if we know better, we “expect” people to do exactly what they say they will do by the time at which they say they will do it. Therefore, when people fall short of doing what they said, our unfulfilled expectations leave us upset and stressed. We may even blame them for our feeling so upset. This over reaction then leaves us stuck in the middle of how things “should have gone” vs. “how things went”. This robs us of the power to deal with what needs to be accomplished with the available resources at hand.
Ultimately, when people experience stress, they are simply reacting to life not working out the way they want or expect. Becoming aware of what is really happening, separating what happened from our interpretation about what is happening, allows us to discover that much of what we considered already determined, given or fixed, may in fact not be. Situations that may have been challenging or stressful can become more fluid and open to change. This can create new levels of ease and enjoyment. You may actually surprise yourself and find areas in your life where you have said good-bye to stress!