Ways to Rethink Stress
When you slam on your brakes, have a fight with a friend, or work on a deadline, you experience stress. Stress occurs every day and isn’t always bad. Saying “pressure isn’t wrong” can be confusing, but there are times when stress is positive. Stress can give you an extra push when you are trying to finish a project on time, avoid an accident, or protect yourself from harm. We are born with the ability to react to short-term stressful situations because we use it to survive. Our body uses stress as a safeguard.
On the other hand, not all stress is positive; long-term stress harms our bodies. Long-term stress is a stress that exists for weeks, months, or years. When we are under constant stress, we can become accustomed to the feeling of being under pressure. A few examples of long-term stress are:
- Work stressors
- An unhappy relationship
We can also add to our stress by engaging in negative thoughts. We need to rethink how we think to decrease stress.
Change Your Mind
The idea of changing your mind isn’t something you think of when dealing with stress. However, let’s think about how we feel when we are happy or have self-confidence. Problems no longer appear confusing, and we take on challenges. We all talk to ourselves. Think positive. Adjust your thought pattern. We tell ourselves how we feel, think, and want to behave. Remember The Little Train That Could? He said himself, “I think I can,” and he did. Instead of saying, “I can’t, I’m helpless, I hate it when, or it’s a bad day,” switch those thoughts to “ I can, I will, I have this, or mistakes happen.” Self-defeating thoughts can drag you down. Some would say what you put out into the world is what you get back, and maybe this is true. If you say you can’t do something, do you even try?
Use the energy you have to work on a situation. Situations will become stressful when you don’t take control. Using positive words gives you a sense of control. We increase our self-confidence when we believe in our abilities. Primarily by switching your thought pattern, you can decrease stress and improve your self-esteem.
Tips to Decrease Stress
- Stress happens. We can use a few techniques to either avoid or defuse stressful situations.
- Before you respond to someone count to 10, think of your favorite song lyrics or imagine a happy place
- Practice deep breathing – a few long breaths can calm your mind
- Gain perspective by praying, meditating, or what brings you peace
- Walk away from the stressor if you can; when you are ready to return to the issue
- Sleep on it
- Take a break. Pet your dog or cat, watch your fish swim, do what makes you feel good
- Exercise – physical activity is a healthy way to release tension, frustration, and negative thoughts
- Think of problems like goals; break them down into smaller easy to address sections
- Listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook
- Walk on the beach, in the woods, or at a park
It is essential to take a break from what is causing stress. Suppose you can’t find an effective way to cope with stress, call a friend, or talk to a therapist. Sometimes we need to discuss our problems with someone we feel is unbiased, safe, and has a different perspective.
What Not To Do When Stressed
Stress can bring out the worst in our personalities. Recognizing we can make mistakes while we are stressed is essential to healing. Here are a few things not to do when you are stressed:
Drink alcohol – alcohol can compound the problem because it often heightens feelings of sadness, anger, or frustration
Substance use – substances, like alcohol, increase adverse reactions
React immediately to a situation – we often speak or do things we regret when we don’t take a moment or two to stop and think
Avoid or run away from stress – we know we are putting off the inevitable when we avoid or run away from stressful situations. Avoidance can increase feeling stressed because the problem doesn’t go away
Thoughts and Tips to Curb Stress
- “Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” —Hermann Hesse
- “Doing something that is productive is a great way to alleviate emotional stress. Get your mind doing something that is productive.” —Ziggy Marley
- “I find meditation in sitting on the floor with the kids coloring for an hour or going on the trampoline. You do something you love, that makes you happy, and that gives you your meditation.” Angelina Jolie
- “I put on music and dance with my dogs, which is quite embarrassing, and I try not to get caught by anybody.” —Christina Ricci
- “Years later, you come back around to what interested you as a boy. Now, if I have something that I’m dealing with that’s causing me a lot of stress, my mind goes to architecture. I walk around the yard and start thinking about what I need to do to the house structurally. It’s similar to puzzles in that way, like a crossword puzzle or anything else I can put my mind into. It’s a relief for me.” —Brad Pitt
- “So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride.” —Michelle Obama
Stress is normal. To cope with stress, we need to find what we feel good doing to diminish feeling stressed.
There is healthy stress, and there is unhealthy stress. Short-term stress is a natural response to these situations like hitting the brakes, fighting with a loved one, or working to meet a deadline. Our bodies instinctively do what is necessary to protect us from harm. Recognizing stress and changing how we think are essential in how we cope with stress. Changing our thought patterns can increase our self-esteem. We feel confident in our abilities and will move forward during challenging situations. Learning healthy coping mechanisms prevent us from harming ourselves or increasing the potential for more stress. We need to find effective techniques that address stressful situations while increasing positive feelings towards ourselves and others. The moments we take to disengage from stressors are moments that help us understand and figure out how to approach the source of stress positively. Achieve Medical Center is available 24/7 to answer questions about stress. We can help you find healthy ways to cope with stress. For more information, call (858) 221-0344.