Become Aware of Your Stressors
The first thing to do is become aware of what causes you stress and how you cope. Are your coping techniques helpful or destructive? How much is your attitude contributing to your stress?
1. What are your sources of stress? What can you do about them?
Once you know your sources of stress, see if you can do anything to reduce them. For example:
- Can you work to resolve conflicts with others?
- Can you prepare in advance for stressful situations, so you feel more confident going in?
- Can you set realistic goals and let go of perfectionism or other unrealistic expectations you might have for yourself and/or others?
- Can you deliberately choose to view change as a positive challenge, rather than a threat?
If you can't eliminate or reduce a stressor, simply being aware of it can help you recognize when you need to take corrective action.
2. How do you experience stress?
Knowing how you experience stress will help you recognize when you are at risk. When you are feeling stressed:
- What are your symptoms or behaviors?
- Do you become irritable?
- Do you develop tense shoulders or get a headache?
- Do you get stuck in negative thoughts?
Answering these questions could lead to greater awareness and understanding how stress affects you.
3. How do you cope with stress?
Do you have healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, or getting support from family and friends? Or do you overeat, watch too much TV, drink, smoke, or rely on other destructive coping practices to reduce stress?
The more certain you are of the strength of your coping skills, the less likely you are to feel overwhelmed by stressors.
Adjust Your Attitude
People often create much of the stress in their lives through their own negative, defeatist, or worrisome attitudes. If this sounds familiar to you, know that simply adjusting your attitude can reduce stress. Try the following tips to shift your attitude:
- Accept that there are events you cannot control. Don't worry about what you can't change.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
- Divide large tasks into smaller components to make jobs less overwhelming.
- Schedule your time wisely and honestly, always allowing time for interruptions and unplanned change.
- Learn about therapeutic approaches for dealing with distressing thoughts or feelings. One approach that you can research online or talk to a therapist about is called cognitive-behavioral therapy.