Heart-pounding, knee-knocking stress. Your palms sweat and your head gets light.
It’s the fight-or-flight response that kept our ancestors alive when they were out hunting to make sure that they weren’t the ones being eaten. Nowadays, we don’t have to worry about being chomped in two by a T-Rex, but we do have bills, family matters, or upcoming deadlines.
Job stress is the primary source of stress in adults. And it’s been increasing in recent years. It’s not that surprising considering the sheer number of projects (30-100) the average business person has at one time or the fact that you’re interrupted up to 7 times an hour on average.
- Sleep trouble
- Loss of appetite
- And the list goes on and on
We’re all staring down a heaping pile of TPS reports. Everyone feels stress, but it’s what you do with it that matters. You could cope using methods that have a negative effect on your life like binge-eating fast-food or overindulging in alcohol. Or you could adopt some ways to manage that stress.
Identify what’s causing it
If you identify stressors in your life, you can better assess what is important and what needs attention, and what doesn’t. Put everything you can control into one box and everything you can’t control into another. Shawn Achor refers to this as the Island Experiment in his book The Happiness Advantage. He suggests that you take effective action on the items in the first box and throw out everything in the other. Seems liberating doesn’t it?
We all need some help sometimes. Find someone in your life to chat with about what’s stressing you. You can talk to a colleague about a problem they can help with. Or maybe you can vent to a friend about an annoying colleague. I find that the sheer act of talking about your problems helps to reframe them in a way that makes them seem more manageable.
Stress is influenced as much by what’s happening inside as by what’s happening outside. Reflecting on what you’re grateful for and reminding yourself of it throughout the day is one way to stay positive, even when things aren’t going so well. You can also reduce the negativity around you by keeping better company. Negative people and their negative thoughts are only going to exacerbate the stress you’re already feeling. You can put them in the ‘forget about it’ box I referred to earlier.
Everyone feels stress, but that doesn’t mean that it has to control our lives. Identifying what’s causing it, relying on your friends, and staying positive are all great ways to keep stress from taking over.