Many of us tend to fixate solely on the stressors in our lives—the never-ending to-do lists, deadlines, and responsibilities. We feel frustrated when we can’t achieve what we want. But what if I told you that redirecting your focus towards your relationship with stress is the key to unlocking a healthier, more productive, and fulfilling life? In this blog post, we will explore this through four concepts.
1. Stress is inevitable
Here’s the truth: Life will always throw challenges our way. It’s unrealistic and self-sabotaging to believe otherwise. Once we accept that there will always be stressful situations, we gain the power to choose how we navigate them. We can choose to change our perspective and approach to stress, or we can choose to keep repeating the same cycles of feeling stuck and frustrated while focusing on things beyond our control.
2. Perception is everything
In the past, when I faced stress, I found myself getting stuck in the unfairness of the situation. While it’s essential to acknowledge the unfairness, the situation can also be other things. Such as being both unfair and motivating. Stressors can motivate us to make positive changes in our lives, such as improving our health, pursuing purposeful work, or strengthening important relationships. This shift in perspective brings us closer to what truly matters to us and aligns our actions with our values.
3. Stress can be a teacher
Stress has a unique way of teaching us valuable lessons if we are willing to pause, reflect, and learn from it. By examining why we are triggered we gain insight into our values, limitations, and areas for improvement. This process enables us to make informed decisions about the best course of action, even if it this means stepping outside our comfort zones. Here, by adopting a growth mindset, we build resilience and discover strengths and abilities we never knew existed within us. To read more about this topic check out my blog “Embracing Discomfort: The Surprising Key to Personal Growth and Resilience”
4. Choose our response to stress
While stress may be inevitable, our response to it is within our control. Here are some practical strategies to improve your relationship with stress:
Journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection and action setting. Set aside a few minutes each day to reflect and set intentions around stress, here are a few prompts to get you started:
- What are my common stress triggers?
- What are my immediate reactions when feeling stressed? (e.g. run away / hide, argue, go into doing mode, people please)
- How does stress impact my health? (e.g. over exercise, avoid food, sleep difficulties)
- How can I reframe my perspective on a particular stressful situation to view it as an opportunity for growth and learning?
- What are some healthy coping strategies that I can incorporate into my daily routine? (e.g. deep breathing, meditation, yoga, walk in nature)
Professional coaching or therapy
Working with a professional coach or therapist can provide valuable guidance and support in developing healthy coping mechanisms and shifting your perspective on stress. Working with someone like me can help you uncover underlying beliefs and patterns that contribute to your stress and then assist you in building practical strategies to manage stress more effectively. Psychotherapy should be sought for those who are experiencing high stress or stress related disorders causing them difficulties to function at work and/or at home.
Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness-based activities can all help you cultivate a sense of calm and groundedness, by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing this daily allows you to use it more automatically when you need it most so you respond to stress from a place of intentional responding rather than reacting impulsively.
Physical and emotional self care
For many of us setting some boundaries might be the most important area to work on when it comes to managing stress. To check if this is something you should consider you can assess your commitments and responsibilities, and identify areas where you can delegate or say no. If you would like to learn to establish boundaries step by step in a non-aggressive way check out my online course here
Also consider your physical self care by prioritising activities that recharge you, such as nutritious food, hobbies you love, spending time with people who make you feel good, gentle exercise, getting to bed early etc…
By actively engaging in these strategies, you can develop resilience, strengthen your emotional well-being, and reclaim control over your response to stress. Remember, it’s an ongoing practice, and with time, you’ll discover a greater sense of empowerment and fulfillment as you navigate life’s challenges.
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