We feel stress for a variety of reasons. To some degree, it depends on what is important to us. Sometimes it happens because of tragedies, such as the recent Boston Marathon bomb blasts mentioned in my welcome message. Other times, it happens because of the economy, weather related disasters, relationship or health problems, a death, or approaching a life transition like retirement.
It has been said that as long as you are alive, you will experience stress from time to time. Since stress is a fact of life, it is important to know how to manage it. For that reason, the month of April has been chosen to raise the awareness of people about it.
What is stress?
For our purpose, stress is your reaction to people or things going on around you. Sometimes these things are positive, i.e. a vacation, a promotion, or special event – competing in a sports event or giving a speech. Sometimes the things are negative, i.e. a traffic ticket or someone you care about is ill.
It's known stress affects your decisions, behavior, emotions, and health. therefore, it affects your life and lifestyle. Even so, there are steps you can take to manage your mood when you are feeling stressed. For instance, how do you manage your mood when:
- There is too much to do and not enough time to do it in?
- Things are happening around you that you have no control over?
- People around you seem to have time to do fun things and you don't?
Susan Vaugham, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University states in her book, Half Empty Half Full that optimists have the ability to feel in charge of themselves. This does not mean everything goes well. It means they will not be overwhelmed emotionally when things get hectic or do not go well. They are able to calm themselves. This is important because then it is easier to be resilient and eventually happier.
Let's look at the steps you can take.
When you are stressed or not happy about how things are going in your life, you have three choices:
Your choice will depend upon the situation you are in. I suggest you choose one of the following 3 tips to move forward in a positive direction:
- Alter – Ask yourself if you have control of the situation or if you can influence someone who does have control. If your answer is YES, often you can alter the situation by problem solving, direct communication, organizing/planning, or time management strategies. If your answer is NO, altering is usually not an option. There is no point in focusing on things you cannot change.
- Avoid – Know what your top five values are. Ask yourself what is most important to you. The more you are living your values, the more satisfied you are with your life. Saying No or removing yourself helps you to avoid tasks that will drain you. In addition, it is necessary to know when it is appropriate to delegate tasks in work and family situations.
- Accept – When you cannot alter or avoid a situation, you may have to accept it. In this case, you need to build your resistance by any one or combination of the following:
- Eating healthy and exercising.
- Practicing positive affirmations
- Building your support system
- Intimacy, faith, and/or commitment
Since number 3 is so common, let me give you this additional tip – you may have to change your perception of the situation by asking yourself if your expectations are realistic. If they are not, is there another way to look at the situation or redefine it? Maybe you can look for an opportunity to do something else.
Remember, it is important to see the situation as temporary and keep it as specific as possible. For instance, if there is tension between you and someone important to you, be specific about why the tension is there and make appropriate adjustments. Also, try thinking of it as temporary.
When you feel your stress level increasing, remember you have three choices: alter, avoid, or accept. To determine your best option, you also need to ask yourself two more questions:
- What do I want to do?
- What do I need to do?
First, focus on what you need to do because your needs are a high priority. They match your values or what is important to you. Wants are different from needs. You can want many things. Those that are most important to you will be the ones you strive for in your life.
In summary, to best manage your mood, consider your needs, wants, and values before you choose to alter, avoid, or accept the stressful situation in your life. Then take positive steps to move forward confidently. My hope for you is that you will use these 3 tips to manage the stress you feel in your life. They work!
If you want to discover more about how to design a stress proof, ultimate freedom-based retirement lifestyle, we need to talk. Email me if you are interested in a complimentary retirement conversation about your situation.
Comment below about what helps you to manage yout stressful situations?
Until next time,