In the last post, we discussed what stress is (like you needed that lesson haha) and what it does to your health. We also talked about some simple ways to manage your stress. In this post, we look at the root causes of your stress and how to dig them out.
Getting to the Root of It
Stress-relieving techniques are necessary and absolute lifesavers sometimes (lifesaving for you…and your kids!). But for chronic stress that just isn’t going away, it’s important to figure out the real root of it so it can be dealt with.
Start by asking yourself what your major sources of stress are. Go ahead—list them out.
Next, choose one of these sources. Ask yourself what exactly about this stressor is stressing you out?
For example, if your work is stressing you out, what exactly about your job is the problem? The actual type of work? A co-worker? Your boss? The pay? The hours? The commute? What?
Once you’ve narrowed down this root, let’s uproot it!
Change your perception of the stress? This is like the “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” phenomenon. What stresses one person out, another let's roll off her back. Sometimes when we get rolling in that stress mode, we allow everything to stress us out.
Is this thing really worth you stressing out over…including the effect it’s having on your health and your family? How can you change your perception of it? One way is to look at the lessons you’re learning from it. What pearls of wisdom can you take from this situation? Offer up some gratitude for these lessons!
Change your reaction to this stressor? There’s a difference between reacting and responding. When we react to a stressor, it’s that knee-jerk, emotional reaction. There is no thought to the reaction. It’s automatic and usually emotionally-fueled.
A response, however, is more thoughtful. You take a little time to take that deep breath (hello, parachute…). This gets some of that lifesaving oxygen to your brain so you can make a more rational response.
When you’re faced, for example, with a continuously irritating, cranky co-worker (or family member...) (your saber-toothed tiger), 1. Take a step back (physically and/or figuratively), 2. Take a deep breath, 3. Respond.
If this person is used to your knee-jerk reaction, by responding instead of reacting, you might be surprised at the response you get back from them! Hey, a little shock value never hurts (the shock coming from them expecting you to freak out on them...but then you don't)!
Take action. Let’s say you’ve tried letting things roll off your back (changed your perception) and you’ve changed your reaction (way to be responsive!), but the stressor persists and you can’t take it any longer. What action might you need to take?
In the case of your job, do you need to look for a new one? Is there a conversation that needs to happen with your supervisor? Do you need to ask for more money? Do you need to transfer to a different department or shift?
Here’s the thing to remember: there are ALWAYS options, even when it feels like there are none! They might not be ideal for the long-term, but they can act as stepping-stones to get you out of a current situation and headed to where you want to be. You just have to be willing to get creative, brainstorm possible solutions (stepping-stones), and take action.
Here’s to less stress! xo