The notion of stress is extremely subjective; what may be stressful to one person may not be stressful to another.
What is important to recognise is that most of the stress we feel, regardless of what causes it, is harmful.
If we are able to reduce it we’ll not only live happier, healthier and more contented lives, we’ll also be able to carry out our work with more focus, performing closer to our highest potential.
Amazingly, about 90 per cent of these thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday.
So that’s about 54,000 of the same thoughts flowing through our mind every day. Even more interesting is that most of these thoughts are negative in nature!
No wonder it’s challenging for us to remain positive and keep our stressful thoughts at bay! It is these negative thoughts or what I call Thought Attacks™ that are responsible for the stress we feel rather than the situation itself.
So how do we manage and control our Thought Attacks™ so that we feel more positive and optimistic about our future?
One of keys to managing stress is by drawing on our own inner strength that better enables us to better navigate our challenges. In other words, this is called resilience.
Below are three resilience builders that will help you to manage and reduce your stress:
- Transform your Thought Attacks™
Whenever you are faced with a stressful situation and thinking negatively about it (i.e. having a Thought Attack™), ask yourself, “How else can I interpret this situation?” Find a new way of looking at the situation and discover the hidden benefit and opportunity that can result from it. For example if you’re stuck in traffic, instead of becoming stressed about it, you may choose to focus rather on the fact that this is an opportunity for you to relax by listening to music or calling a friend that you have been meaning to contact.
- Tell a different story
Often we are unaware that the majority of our communication consists of telling stories about the experiences we’ve had. We often talk about what others did to us or a situation that made us feel uncomfortable or the ridiculous behaviour of others.What stories are you telling about your stressful experiences? Are you painting a picture of doom and gloom and becoming the victim to the situation? What if you were to relate your story in a more positive way? What if you were to tell a different story by focusing rather on the hidden benefit that can arise from it, or an opportunity not to judge others by giving them the benefit of the doubt? What if you were to contemplate the fact that the situation could have been worse? It may just help you to shift from a stress response to feeling lucky! The key point here is to be mindful of how the stories you relate make you feel. Commit to only talking about your challenges in a positive light and when you do, your stress will reduce quickly.
- Develop a sense of gratitude
You may be wondering how developing a sense of gratitude can help you manage your stress?When you think about how lucky you are to be blessed with the many things you have, you stress less about the things you don’t have. Focus your attention on what you appreciate in your life and feel a sense of gratitude and appreciation. It’s impossible to feel stressed when you’re feeling grateful so when stress arises think rather of what’s right in your life rather than what is lacking. We often lose perspective when we focus only on the things that aren’t going well rather than having a more balanced view. You’d be surprised to discover when you think more about your life, how much there is that’s right and that we take a lot for granted. Try letting go of the picture in your head about the way things should be and embrace the fact that life isn’t a straight line and that curve balls are an inescapable part of your journey.
So next time you’re feeling stressed think about the things you can be grateful for and keep your life in perspective.
Meiron Lees is an international keynote speaker, trainer and author on the subjects of developing client trust, and building resilience in challenging times.