As promised, this is the second blog post in Dealing with Stress series. We looked at the ways to identify if it is time to deal with stress in the previous blog post. This blog post will focus on the ways that can help you deal with stress (assuming the stress is not linked to a diagnosed depression, I am not a doctor to give you qualified advice in this department! Please consult healthcare professionals if it is more serious).
Below are some ways of dealing with stress that I find helpful:
- Actually DEAL with stress. Sometimes I get so stressed that even the word ‘stress’ stresses me out. If that’s the extend to which you stressed yourself out, you need to hit pause. STOP. Take a long deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Have some water. Let your feet touch the ground. Feel the ground being stable. You can do this. Sit down. Listen to music that calms you down. Meditate. Take a walk outside. Take pictures of beautiful things. Dance. Pick up some flowers or a new magazine about something you like. Do something to get to the state where you can think. You cannot think effectively if you are in the rush, stressed or anxious. Well, you can, but your decisions will not be good.
- Silence your negative self-talk. If you have a little negative talker living inside your head who always reminds you that you are not good enough, it is time to show them the door! If this evil voice always reminds you to doubt yourself, to settle for less, to avoid change and taking risks and to hide from every opportunity – why are you still listening to this evilness? Kick them out and adopt a ‘positive or nothing’ attitude. Make a pact with yourself that you will not listen to any negativity, as it will only add to your existing stress. You are worthy, you are wonderful and you can achieve anything you put your mind into.
- Identify what stresses you out. Create a list of everything that annoys or stresses you. Every little thing – from big career or financial issues, relationship issues to annoying items at home that catch your attention when you already climbed in bed.
- Try ranking the items. Which one makes you more stressed – coming up with things to cook every week or not being married yet? Can you control some of these things, delegate or pay someone to take care of these items (probably would not work for the marriage problem but may work for weekly dinners planning!)
- Address small items that are within your control. In the government we call this ‘quick wins’. Does the mess at the bathroom counter-top drives you mad? Find a cute box and put everything there. Did you forget to mail the card for your grandma’s birthday? Add a calendar reminder to call her. Whatever it is, address the small items that suck your energy and joy from your day. Think how addressing these things can make your life easier.
- Bonus points if you can identify linkages between multiple items and their relationship (does Monday stress me out because I have to go to work, or because at work I have a manager who does not notice me or because I have no exciting projects to work on? or is it all 4?)
- Imagine ideal state with nothing bothering you. What things will be different? How would they make you feel? Would it be enough? What if small things that irritate you get addressed (for example, fixing that lock on the bathroom door)- would that make you feel better every day or would it be a band-aid solution? Write your ideal state down, capture every detail – if you dream of better financial situation, exactly how much money would you like to see in your savings account? If you dream of losing weight, what would be your ideal weight?
- Find your motivation – for every problem there is a solution. I can bet that for any problem that you may have there are at least 10 articles/blog posts, motivational stories and Instagram heroes, books, apps and services that exist to address it. Explore solutions, you are not alone. Surround yourself with resources that help you succeed.
- Think about enablers – what do you need to be able to deal with your problem? Do you need more energy, more confidence, better public speaking skills or better financial planning skills? Whatever it is, all of these things can be developed and/or learned. Think about what an ideal version of you would look like and how you can use existing resources to get there. Create a plan and start today.
- Take time for yourself. If you are constantly running around helping others and stressing out about things without taking time for yourself, you are doing it wrong. You matter. You are important. You need to take time for yourself. If you can take few weeks off and take a trip to Italy, that’s great. However, even if you take an hour a day for yourself, you will feel a difference. You need this hour to reflect about what really is bothering you, about what you already achieved and how far you have advanced, to think about and do things that energize you, to relax. This is the most important thing you can do to truly address the stress. Being stressed is like running in the wrong direction – unless you take a break and take a second look at the map you may continue wasting your precious time and energy on nothing, by continue running in the wrong direction and getting farther away from your destination.
- Create your own map. I believe that we can control majority of what happens to us, and often what we get are the outcomes of our actions or karma. Creating a map or a plan to the future will help you get where you want to be. No one can help you with the map to your fate because everyone’s fate, success, values and destination is different. Yes, we may share some common goals with our significant others, family and friends, but there isn’t a person with 100% similar values, experiences, skills, vision and background as us – so how can we expect anyone to walk with us if we are the only ones arriving? For example, if my goal is to achieve career success in project management, a path to it would be learning about project management, passing exam and also leading projects at work. Let’s imagine that my husband’s life goal is writing novels. If I make him read, study and talk ONLY about project management (because as my husband he should support my career goals), I will also take his energy and time AWAY from his own goals. As a husband, his job is to support my path but it does not mean walking with me through this path every step of the way. We all need to find a right balance that helps us achieve things we want while also supporting others that we care about, as well as their dreams. Focusing on your own goals and taking time to pursue them does not take time from your relationship. What matters in relationship is quality, not quantity. Does it matter that you have every single dinner together if during these dinners you fight with each other or simply stare at the TV screen? Make your relationship meaningful by focusing on it and finding a balanced approach so that your own goals do not get impacted.
- Trust the process. Yes, sometimes life cannot be controlled 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you need to hold on, to wait for something good to arrive. Whether you are looking to meet someone or waiting for a decision about your next job, sometimes all you can do is wait. However, it does not mean that you should not have a life while you are waiting. In fact, if you live your life DESPITE having to wait, you may feel happy even before the item you are waiting for is decided. Believe in better things and they will come.