Stress is an inevitable part of everyday life, from simple things such as day to day responsibilities, to major stressors, like changing jobs, going through a divorce, or having a child.
The key to stress management is to restore a sense of control – over your life, thoughts, emotions, and problems.
And one way to achieve control is by working with a therapist on helpful tools you can implement on the daily.
Sometimes stress is just the result of normal life.
But when we experience stress chronically, it’s usually a sign that there are things that we need to reexamine in our lives and underlying issues we need to explore.
Exploring and shifting our underlying ways of processing emotions and coping with life’s difficulties is an important first step in beginning to overcome stress and anxiety.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you explain away stress as temporary (i.e. “I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
- Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?
- Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably experiencing chronic stress as a result of the way you’re approaching your life and your responsibilities.
The goal of effective stress management is to feel less “under pressure” and more balanced.
One healthy strategy you can use when you feel stressed includes tracking your stressful emotions in a journal to help you identify the regular culprits in your life, and how to deal with them.
Notice any patterns and common themes, and write down the following: what may have caused your stress, how you felt physically and emotionally, how you acted in response, and what you did to make yourself feel better.
Exercise, time management, establishing a healthy diet, getting a good amount of sleep, and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake are also effective ways to manage your stress levels.
THE FOUR A’S: AVOID, ALTER, ADAPT & ACCEPT
- AVOID unnecessary stress and learn how to address situations that do need attention. For example, you should learn how to pare down your schedule, and make sure that you’re not hanging out with people who stress you out.
- ALTER the situation if you can’t avoid it by expressing your feelings instead of bottling them up, being willing to compromise, and creating a balanced schedule.
- ADAPT and change yourself if you can’t change the stressor by adjusting your expectations and attitude. This can be done by looking at problems in a different way. You should also focus on looking at the bigger picture, adjusting your standards, and practicing gratitude.
- ACCEPT the things you can’t change or avoid, which can include any uncontrollable circumstances such as the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or the loss of a job. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable; instead, look for the upside and the silver linings, learn to forgive, and express your feelings.
COMMON CAUSES OF WORKPLACE STRESS
One of the most common sources of stress is in the workplace.
Although this kind of stress is very normal, you have to remember that you have the power to learn skills to find peace and balance regardless of how stressful your environment is.
With the right tools, you can prevent excessive stress from interfering with your productivity and performance, your physical and emotional health, and affecting your relationships and home life.
Causes of stress at the workplace include:
- Fear of being laid off
- More overtime due to staff cutbacks
- Pressure to perform to meet rising expectations, but with no increase in job satisfaction
- Pressure to work at the optimum level (all the time!)
- Lack of control over how you do your work
- Signs and symptoms of excessive workplace stress
- Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
- Apathy or a loss of interest in work
- Problems sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension or headaches
- Stomach problems
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of sex drive
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope
TIPS FOR WORKPLACE STRESS
- Cultivate supportive relationships at work by turning to coworkers for connection, camaraderie, and advice
- Make time for regular exercise
- Make smart food choices so that you are able to feel energized at work
- Don’t skimp on sleep; you need 7-8 hours each night in order to feel refreshed in the AM.
- Improve time management by creating a balanced schedule, using a planner, leaving earlier in the morning to get to work, planning regular breaks, establishing healthy boundaries, and not over-committing to tasks.
- Improve task management skills such as prioritizing tasks, breaking projects into small steps, delegating responsibilities, and being willing to compromise.
- Break bad habits such as limiting perfectionism, flipping negative thinking into positive thinking, clearing up your act, looking for humor, and not trying to control the uncontrollable.
- Increase productivity by talking to your employer about workplace stressors, clarifying your job description, requesting a transfer, asking for new duties, and taking time off.
Of course, workplace stress is just one type of stress; others can include relationship stress, school stress, social stress, or any other traumatic or difficult situation in your life.
Our therapists can help you work through it so that your stress becomes manageable and does not hinder your daily activities and healthy functioning.
OUR STRESS MANAGEMENT METHODS
Therapy can successfully improve your life by helping you minimize the anxiety in your life, identifying and changing underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and providing you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.
See the About Therapy page for a deeper look into this process.
Our evidence-based, scientifically proven interventions are demonstrated by research to be effective in improving anxiety and stress.
Learn more about our empirically based therapy modalities by visiting our Methods page.
WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH A STRESS MANAGEMENT EXPERT NOW
If you have any questions, contact one of our stress specialists for a free consultation any time.