Oh yes, the big-bad-S of STRESS. I think we’re all familiar with the little Inner Imp I’m talking about here.
One of the things I often get asked is what coping mechanisms me and my Inner Imps have for dealing with Stress.
“What you – STRESSED?” I hear you cry. Well, the answer is “Oh Yes – STRESSED.”
It happens to us all.
Life bombards us with so many must-do’s, should-do’s, shoulda-done’s and shXt-I-haven’t-done’s that we all reach wilting point at some stage and I’m certainly no exception.
The good news is, that there are a pile of life skills that come into play when it comes to dealing with this big-ole-bad-boy of an Inner Imp and all of them can be honed to perfection.
Here are a few things I’ve found I CANDo to manage the mess-o-stress my life sometimes dissolves into.
Recognise It For What It Is?
Stress manifests itself in a variety of ways. Symptoms can range from constant tiredness, loss/increase in appetite, insomnia, headaches, irritability, fear or even apathy. The important thing is not to give in to this Inner Imp Stress if he’s disturbed. Recognise who or what has stirred this sleeping beast. Wake up your Honesty and Reasoning Imps to figure out together what’s awoken Stress from his slumber and then go to work on managing him effectively.
“How?” You cry. Yeah, okay, patience, patience. I’m getting there!
Get in the Driving Seat of the Situation
Having acknowledged – and maybe even shaken the hand of – this dastardly fiend “Stress”, you need now to get hold of him by the ears, stick a lead on him and start giving him a few doggy-training style classes. Get control of things and learn to manage him effectively. Here’s how.
Avoid Stressful Situations and Extremes
Everyone has regular triggers. Situations that stir Stress up into a mini-tornado. It might be:
- trying to get everyone out of the house to school and work in the morning;
- the rush-hour traffic on the way to work;
- an overpacked schedule;
- the scramble to get dinner cooked in the evening; or
- a sudden business trip or work presentation.
Try and rework or avoid these situations where possible:
- get everyone up ten minutes earlier;
- develop your Self-Discipline Imp so you do the must-do’s before the would-like to’s;
- cut stuff from your schedule;
- leave for work or school 10 minutes earlier so you’re not worrying about being late while you’re sat in traffic or chivying the kids down the road; or
- pre-cook and freeze dinners.
If you pep up your organisational and time-keeping life skills to re-organise things for the better and then get Self-Discipline to flex his muscles, all these things can help you dodge stressful situations.
Change What you Can
Have a look about and see if there’s anything you can change or get better control of. For example, are you stressed because you’re over tired, you’re trying to achieve too much, you lack energy, you need more support at work, etc. For each of these things, look at ways you can change things.
One of my biggest sources of stress is lack of sleep. My Stress Imp’s level of exuberance is directly proportionate to the amount of sleep I haven’t managed to get the night before. I’ve learned to listen with every fibre to my soul to my body and exercised Self-Discipline to the point that this task-master of an Inner Imp cracks his whip and makes sure I’m in bed at night when I need to be – even when Temptation is laying it on thick, trying to get me to stay up and watch a film, have another glass of wine or read/write another chapter.
Set Realistic Goals and Priorities
Go get goals – but keep them realistic.
We all have the tendency to be habit-hobbits and get stuck in bad habit ruts that cause us to simply drift through life, reacting to things that get thrown at us rather than proactively getting-up and go-going after what we want.
Take a look at your life and rearrange stuff. Are there things you can eliminate to reduce the overload and add in to help you get where you want to be?
CANDo Kick-Ass Call to Action: Make a list of the absolute MUST-DOs in your life. Get Honesty, Reasoning and Courage to put their heads together and really prune this down to stuff you simply can’t NOT do. (This is called “Prioritising” for those addicted to high-fluting-mumbo-jumbo).
When you’re down to the bare bones of what your daily goals should be, then take a look and add back in activities that could improve the quality of your life. Just keep these add-ins to what you can realistically cope with without getting overwhelmed and waking Stress.
Change How you React to Stress
You can’t control somethings that go on around you but you can control how you react to them.
Have a Break – If you feel Stress stirring in his sleep, give yourself a break and remove yourself from the situation if possible.
Fret-Not – If you’ve done the Call to Action above, the must-do’s should be under control so quit worrying about the rest. Worry won’t make things better so stop fretting. Things will either get done or they won’t and the world will not stop spinning.
Get a Different Viewpoint – Stress often reacts to an event or problem and it’s easy to get trapped by your own viewpoint, opinion or way of doing things. Seeking outside perspective for a problem or situation can often be the key out of this trap. A fresh perspective frequently provides an answer that will arm you with the tranquilliser necessary to settle Stress back down again.
Work Off Stress – Physical activity is a great stress-buster so go get active.
Chose to Refuse – Keep Temptation under lock and key so he can’t entice you into using alcohol or drugs to mask stress. These will not help you deal with things.
Stay Positive – Get Positive-Thinking to keep whispering messages of encouragement to all your naysaying-Imps about how well you’re doing, how far you’ve come, what you’ve already achieved. Don’t ever underestimated the power of acknowledging what you’ve already achieved.
Ask for Help – If you get to the point that you simply can’t manage any more without it affecting your health, work or school life SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. There is no shame to be had in asking for help. We ALL need it sometimes.
So there you have my answer. How I keep my Inner Imp Stress sedated. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my melt-down-days, but by employing the strategies above, I’m pleased to say I’m getting better at keeping them to the minimum.
How about you? What stress busting techniques have you developed to help keep your soul perky? Why not share your ideas in the comments below.