Do You Need Help To Manage Stress? Are You a World-Class Worrier?
Are you looking for helpful ways to manage stress? Have you ever found yourself lying in bed and worrying: “Did I set my alarm? What do I need to get done tomorrow? Agh, I forgot I have a meeting! I hope my boss won’t say anything about that project. How will I have time to go to the grocery store and get to the gym!? Maybe I should cut the gym out?”
You get the picture. The worries, to-do lists, and questions can go on and on. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may be a professional worrier. You may notice worrying is impacting your happiness, your relationships, and even your sleep. Well, put your to-do lists aside and take a deep breath. As a therapist and online life coach, I often speak with my clients about ways to calm and control anxiety in order to stop worrying and start living.
Let’s start with a little background about why stress can have such a big impact on your wellness. Stress is a “normal,” biological, bodily response. It helps to trigger our “fight or flight” response, an evolutionary physiological reaction which protects us in potentially dangerous situations. It was tremendously useful for our ancestors, who needed to be able to flee from dangerous predators or fight for their lives. Fortunately, we no longer live in such precarious conditions. However, our bodies don’t know that our survival is much less threatened in today’s world, and many of us experience intense, frequent, or inappropriate activation of the response for an extended period of time. This can negatively impact our nervous and immune systems and make us feel that, rather than designing our lives, we are merely passive participants in them.
When we practice strategies to reduce our stress and worry levels and to cultivate everyday mindfulness, it can also have a positive impact on our body’s physiological functioning, improving overall wellness. I’m reaching into my life coach and emotional intelligence tool bag to bring you seven skills for managing stress. I use these with my therapy and life coaching clients all the time, and I know they work. In fact, improving my clients’ happiness is one of my ten favorite things about being a Denver life coach. Try using these to conquer whatever is holding you back so you can live in the moment.
Seven Skills for Managing Stress
- Prioritize. Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worrying about how you will accomplish all of it? Taking a look at what needs to get done versus what we would like to get done can be helpful. For example, picking your kids up from school needs to get done, but vacuuming the floors can wait!
- Delegate. You might be thinking, “I’m uncomfortable asking for help.” However, try to remember you are one part of a greater system, and in order for that system to run smoothly, all pieces need to be doing their part. You can prioritize high-stress or high-need tasks and delegate. If they are necessary tasks of daily living for your household, you can ask for some support. This can be talking to a friend or asking your partner to make dinner. Remember, coming together with your partner actually strengthens your bond!
- Eliminate “This or That” Thinking. Worry can often be rooted in dichotomous thinking (sometimes called “black and white” thinking). This means we may say to ourselves, “This has to happen, or that will happen.” When we think in this way, we eliminate the opportunity for flexibility. You essentially have sent the message to your body, “If this does not get done now, there is danger!” Take a moment and ask yourself if there is another option. What’s the middle ground?
- Ask Yourself, “What’s the Worst that Could Happen?” Let’s face it: it can be incredibly easy to catastrophize. So many of us play out “the worst case scenario,” just so we’re prepared should it happen. Practice noticing when you’re jumping to the worst-case scenario, and then ask yourself, “Is this really a likely outcome? Are there other more positive outcomes that are equally as likely?”
- Look for Evidence. Ask yourself, “Is there any past evidence to support that I cannot handle or manage the tasks at hand?” Chances are, there will not be much evidence to support that in times of intense worry, you won’t be able to formulate a plan of action. Remember: You got this!
- Explore Activities That Work For You. Oftentimes when you’re stressed, the activities that give you a sense of relaxation fall to the wayside. Try to remember that taking care of yourself allows you to be present for others in your life. Try integrating activities into your daily schedule that give you some relief. This could range from taking five minutes to just breathe to going for a run outside.
- Let Go of What You Can’t Control. Oftentimes we worry about things we do not have control over. Take the pressure off of yourself to control the uncontrollable! All you can control is yourself. When you notice your thoughts pushing you to analyze all of the external circumstances, bring yourself back to the simple (or not so simple) question of, “What is within my control?”
Managing worry and stress is all about finding what works for you. Everyone experiences and deals with stress differently. Remember, we can’t control that stress is a biological response, but we do have control over how we manage it. If you’ve been struggling with stress and anxiety lately, and would like some personal support in managing it, get in touch with us; Growing Self is always here to talk.
All the best,
Meet Rachel: a marriage and family therapist, individual therapist, premarital counselor, and life coach who helps clients find passion and joy in themselves and their relationships. She can support you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.