Stress. A buzzword used by everyone everyday.
Whether or not you know the definition of stress, I bet you have used this word tons of times in your life. And usually this word carries with it a huge negative connotation.
Rightly so. As google defines it,
‘Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’
Stress is also a pressure, a tension placed on an object or, may I suggest, a person?
We feel stressed when our attention or input is needed at various junctures of life within a specific timeline. The pressures that society places on us to perform. The tension that arises from a lack of understanding within your workplace. The disappointment of not meeting the unspoken expectations from your loved ones, or even yourself.
But is stress really all negative though?
Stress is a motivator. Stress drives you to act. Stress encourages you to complete tasks in a timely manner. Stress can help you to get stuff done. Stress can help you resume responsibilities that you have been pushing aside.
Stress is not the problem; how we deal with stress might be.
Here are 4 ways we can deal with stress:
1. Decide what to stress over
There are a lot of things that call out for our attention everyday, people who demand our presence, our time, our resources. We cannot run away from these things (unless you lived in a cabin on your own... forever). But here’s the thing, you are in control of how you react and respond to these things.
You can choose not to let these circumstances wear you down. You can choose joy instead. You can choose to deal with the 1,001 things on your list with joy and peace from Jesus. Decide today the kind of attitude you want to carry, so that when stress comes knocking at your door, you can overcome it victoriously.
2. Stop thinking that stress is all bad
Maybe what is adding on to your stress is the fact that society keeps reminding us that stress is always a negative thing? When we accept that sole perspective, we can’t help but think that something is wrong with us, and our human instincts will tell us to go fix it. That stresses us even more.
Stress can be for our good if we learn how to master it. Stop thinking of stress as the two extreme ends of a spectrum - ‘you must either be stressed or at a beach in Hawaii sipping on a cocktail.’ Start thinking of stress as a neutral motivator, because it’s what you do with your stress that matters. The goal is not to remove stress from your life but to manage it well.
3. Look out for triggersIf the goal is to manage stress well, we need to be mindful of our triggers.
What causes you to overreact and feel overwhelmed?
A short runway for a project?
Too many things on your to-do list?
A nagging parent or spouse?
Spot patterns - be intentional to discover what makes you tick. Knowing your triggers is the first key to managing your stress and emotions.
4. Adopt a code
When you know what triggers you, you can set boundaries and employ methods to calm yourself before you get fully triggered. Before you reach a point of exhaustion or strain, tap out. Give yourself a code. Maybe like ‘CHICKEN’, or ‘CAKE’! The point is: tap out. Take time away from what is causing you stress, spend some time alone, talk to God, breathe. When you are in a better frame of mind, tackle the issue again.
There will be times of hardship, seasons of intense stress, and painful moments in life, but weathering through these storms are essential to living a full life. Instead of running away from stress, accept that stress can help us to grow. We cannot sweep problems and issues under the rug and expect to be moulded into Christ’s likeness. After all, the best way out is through. When you face your problems and work through them, you have the opportunity to testify to God’s goodness and give Him all the glory.