Successfully Managing Stress


Whether its finding employment, paying the bills, buying a car, building a home or any number of other things, it’s only natural that you might feel highly stressed. You may look around at others you know in the same situation and see that they seem to be handling things so much better than you are and wonder why that is. In fact, this too can cause added pressure and stress; wondering why we aren’t coping better.

It’s true of course that some people do handle their stress better than others. However it’s also true that while some people seem less stressed when in public, they worry and fret more when alone. They may ‘bottle it all up’ as it were; deal with their stress internally and keep things to themselves so it seems from the outside that they are in better control of things.

Control is pretty much at the heart of experiencing stress. When we feel in control we’re better able to respond to situations that otherwise might have us feeling highly agitated. Lose that control, that ability to manage a situation and we can feel reactive and not proactive; having to deal with things beyond our control.

So if you are considering buying a home and you’ve got the money for the down payment and you’ve figured out what you can comfortably afford to pay on a monthly basis, you’re more likely to feel less stress about the purchase. However, what could be causing you to feel stress is the things you can’t control, such as a bank increasing their mortgage lending rates substantially to the point where you can no longer make those payments. That possibility – beyond your control – can keep you up nights, make thinking and worrying about your decision to buy now or not a stressful one.

The same is true when looking for employment isn’t it? Of course it is because we can’t control everything in the job search. We can’t make a company hire us any more than we can make them interview us, or create a job when there isn’t one. We can’t make them keep us instead of laying us off if they’ve come to that decision.

Yet for all this, there are many people who react differently to the same situations we get stressed about. “How?” you might wonder; “How do they do it? Why aren’t they stressed out if they are in the same situation as me!” There’s many possibilities, but I suspect it’s because while it seems to be the same situation, it’s actually not.

Two job seekers may have an upcoming interview for the same job and be out of work for the same time leading up to the interview, but where one is extremely anxious and worried, the other is not. How come? Possibly one is better prepared and more confident in their ability to come across as the best applicant. Possibly one perceives the interview as an interrogation where the other sees it as a conversation or exchange of information.

So we can see that while the situation may remain constant for two people, it is experienced differently for each person based on how they perceive it and how they respond to it.

Think about what’s stressing you now. Angling for a promotion, friction with a co-worker, mounting debt, job performance, a relationship.  What is it that you are worried about, stressed about, anxious about? Pick one and ask yourself now what level of control you have over the situation. It may be that you’re feeling stressed largely in part because you feel things are out of your hands and dependent upon others for resolving. Similarly, you might feel that things are within your control to work on but you don’t know where to start and that’s your stressor; as would be the case when trying to decide what career to follow.

Gaining control over a situation is something you just might not be equipped to do on your own. The good news is that whatever it is you are stressing over, others have been there and managed to get through. If you had a conversation with someone who could lend you guidance, share their experience and more importantly what they did to end up with a successful outcome, that might be what you need. In the end it’s going to be you personally that – one way or the other – deals with your stressors. So you can get some advice and hear how others have handled that friction with a co-worker, but in the end it’s up to you in your workplace to do something about it. The strength you gain in seeking support and guidance from someone else will however boost your confidence that a resolution is more important than allowing the friction to continue.

A very positive outcome of sharing with others what you’re stressed about is that you may get multiple strategies of dealing with things, hear a perspective that shifts your own thinking, and from all those views and suggestions you’ll find one or two that might work for you. What we see as insurmountable and massive may to someone else who stands objectively detached like a manageable problem.

Typically something we stress over gives us an opportunity to develop a skill; which when gained allows us to overcome the situation, better equipping us to handle similar situations in the future.

 

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