Stress Management: Overcoming Stress By Fighting It Out From Within
What is that one thing we can do to ourselves that can turn our lives from bad to worst?
Stress can make existing problems worst. Minor problems turn into major ones as stress overpowers the capacity of the body and the mind to cope. Relationship problems become physical problems as stress seriously affects our health. A simple situation can become complex because stressing out robs us of the capacity to think well in times when we really need to.
This is a major problem but did you know that this behaviour that ravages modern man today is the same behaviour that enabled our ancestors to survive in their hostile environment? This is the body’s natural reaction to external threats. It elevates the hormone level to increase heart rate, blood pressure and to boost energy to deal with the immediate threat or to flee from it. But the threats to our survival have now taken different forms. Wild animals that threatened man before are now locked up in zoos or protected in reservation areas. Man is now confronted with bills to pay, taking care of children, deadlines to meet, relationships to maintain among many other everyday challenges.
The irony is, the very thing that is supposed to give man the capacity to protect himself is now what he needs to protect himself from. But studies have proven that it’s not stress per se that eats up man but its the way man reacts to it. According to the “father” of stress research, Dr. Hans Selye, “Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it….Man should not try to avoid stress any more than he would shun food, love or exercise.”
Handling stress requires the use of our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence gives us the capacity to manage our reactions to external threats. If we are lacking in this, we may be already experiencing the following:
- We perceive stress as an external event rather than as something coming from within us.
- Our bodies manifest responses to stress: muscles are tensed up, we breathe harder or hyperventilate which sometimes leads to panic attacks, heart rate increases and blood pressure goes up. We are anxious, tensed, moody, irritable. We develop dry mouth and exhibit nervous laughter.
- We are unable to concentrate and think clearly such that we become forgetful.
- We worry quite a lot about the future.
- We act impulsively.
- We Have a low tolerance for frustration and engage in unpredictable, sometimes explosive, abusive or self-defeating behaviour.
If we have high emotional intelligence we the competency to handle stress well. We are:
-Sensitive to our feelings. We are aware when our stress level starts to rise.
-Realistic. We accept that stress is part of life such that we can calm ourselves when it arises and deal with it productively.
-In control when stressful events arise. This enables us to keep calm, think clearly, and to handle the situation properly such as acting to improve it.
- Highly tolerable to setbacks and frustrations. We know which situations are worth their effort.
It is crucial to hone our capacity to manage stress well otherwise it will incapacitate us from living normal lives. This requires tapping into our emotional intelligence. Here are some developmental tips to get you started:
- Focus on the other side of stress. Accept that it is a part of daily life and consider it as an opportunity to mature.
- Be conscious of our reactions. Choose a healthier response.
- Expect and be ready for changes; tolerate uncertainty
- Find a relaxation technique that works for you and practice it regularly.
- Seek support from others
- Speak up on our own behalf, there’s no need to accept abusive or bullying behaviour
- Live healthy. Take care of ourselves.
- Talk with friends or someone we can trust about our worries/problems.
- Budget time wisely.
- Plan ahead, avoid procrastination, set boundaries on our time and insist that others honour them.
- Set realistic goals, prioritise, do our best and let it go at that.
- Try not to control everyone and everything; assume control only over what’s within our control.
- Stop blaming self.
- Focus on the positive and the good.
Need guidance and support to get your stress under control? Contact us today.