Recently an employee contacted COPE with the following message, "I work in a challenging environment and right now I am really stressed. What can I do? I have difficulty focusing, sleeping, and I think about work constantly. I am struggling to manage everything on my plate."
Stress is a normal aspect of life, but chronic stress can affect our physical and mental health. There are two ways to deal with stress: 1) change our environment or 2) change how we deal with stress. It may not be possible to eliminate stress, but it is possible to change how we handle stress.
THINGS THAT INFLUENCE YOUR STRESS TOLERANCE LEVEL
• Your support network -- A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life's stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
• Your sense of control -- If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it's easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of control.
• Your attitude and outlook -- Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
• Your ability to deal with your emotions -- You're extremely vulnerable to stress if you don't know how to calm and soothe yourself when you're feeling angry or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
• Your knowledge and preparation -- The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
ADDITIONAL TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR MANAGING STRESS
• Accept what you cannot control. Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, and we have to learn to cope with and accept them. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to stressful situations. Staying calm and being willing to accept emotional support from others can help in managing stress.
• Give yourself a break. Daily stressors can creep up on you before you realize it, so treat yourself to at least one relaxing activity every day. Listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal, or enjoying a soothing bath are all great ways to relax and relieve stress. Taking time for yourself is important for both preventing and managing stress.
• Get regular exercise. Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress because it can relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or one of the martial arts, all great ways to get rid of pent-up stress and negativity.
• Express your feelings.When something is bothering you talk to people you trust, like friends, family or co-workers. It is best to share what is on your mind with others rather than keeping it to yourself. Even if you are not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open.
Got a question you would like us to tackle? Contact COPE at AsktheCounselor@cope-inc.com to find an EAP professional.
• Critical people judge our decisions and rarely have anything nice to say. One way to deal with them is to stop being with them altogether. But that's not a practical solution when the critical person is your boss, colleague, or family member. You can't just stop seeing them. And in some cases you have to interact with them on a daily basis. Psych Center.
• According to Princeton University psychologist Eldar Shafir, cognitive capacity, or the ability of the brain to process many different inputs at the same time is key to understanding stress. "We have very limited bandwidth," Shafir says. "There's only so much you can attend to at any one time." The take-away: It's important to understand stress and to manage it. To read the complete article click here.
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