Stress? Join the Club

Life is full of unavoidable stressors that range from petty to serious. We can’t eliminate all the events, situations or behaviors that create stress, but we absolutely own how we respond to and deal with them.

For example, I’m one of those people that never left time for the unexpected on my commute. In fact, I pressed the envelope, doing just one more thing, often leaving a little later than I had planned. As a result, if traffic was heavy or someone was driving slowly it made me crazy. Yes, I was one of those people who screamed and yelled in her car about how terrible other drivers were. My interpretation of the situation was that everyone else was causing me to be late. In my story it was all “their” fault.

Does some of this resonate with you? If you’re shaking your head “yes”, you’re not alone. Stress is a fact of life, but you don’t have to succumb. You can reduce stress by acting with intention to change the situation.

I finally figured out how to change this dynamic for me. First, I had to come to grips with why I was doing it at all. Once I realized that my little inner voice was hitting my perfectionist button over and over, I was able take charge and leave for work without sending that last email. I was able to control my sense of urgency by evaluating calmly what could wait and what couldn’t….in other words I reset my priorities and got out of my own way.

It sounds ridiculously simple, doesn’t it? When I took ownership of my experience, the anxiety and frustration of the commute melted away and it completely changed the way I felt and showed up when I stepped into the office.

This example illustrates the concept of managing your energy, but we all know that a tough boss, difficult team member, lack of job security or a life change isn’t quite that simple, or is it?

Set aside some quiet time to consider the situation that is causing you stress and answer these two questions:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how much stress is this situation causing you?
  • What about the situation is causing stress?

Then consider the questions below. What are you telling yourself about the situation?

  1. What’s another possible interpretation?
  2. How is the current approach serving you?
  3. Are you up for experimenting with some new ways of responding?
  4. Given the different ways of seeing the situation, how will you choose to respond now?
  5. As you approach this situation/person, what do you want to be aware of?
  6. How can you use what you know now to create a new plan or new approach?
  7. What perspective will serve you best at this time?
  8. How would you have to change your thinking to do that?
  9. How do you want to move your ideas into action?

By candidly answering these questions You Can Take Charge of The Situation, determine what is holding you back from resolving the issues, make intentional decisions on how to move forward and Reduce Your Stress!