4 Steps to Dealing with Everyday Stress

StressAsk anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you that I tend to get stressed out pretty regularly. Like everyone else I know, I’m busy and have a lot of commitments, so things tend to pile up if I’m not on top of my game all the time.

I admit that I also enjoy having constant control of my surroundings, work flow and schedule, which probably makes the stress a little more prominent. But, at the end of the day, I am a firm believer that the daily stress I experience helps push me to action and makes me more productive.

Having said that, I certainly recognize that there is a very thin line between a moderate amount of stress that results in a favorable outcome, and a level of stress that is oppressive and unproductive. None of us want our levels of stress to reach that point, but sometimes it seems impossible to control. And once you hit that curve, it’s hard not to crash.

In my experience, the best way to deal with stress is to keep it at a manageable level (one that produces action), be able to recognize when it starts to tip the scale to the overwhelming level, and have a plan for pushing it back where it belongs. Here is a simple 4-step process that I use to manage my daily stress level.

Step 1. Know Your Triggers

A huge part of stress management is knowing yourself and the factors that contribute to stress in your life. For me, it usually comes back to feeling like I’m losing control – an unexpected barrage of emails, a sick child and an unplanned doctor’s appointment, a technology challenge, or anything that disrupts my carefully planned day.

Look at recent stressful situations in your life and note the common factors that contributed to accelerating the stress.

Step 2. Face It Head On

Once my triggers have hit, I immediately move to a plan of action to regain control. Sometimes, alleviating the stress is as easy as taking immediate action – reading and filing emails, delegating work to a subcontractor, or switching to a backup computer. In these situations, the best thing you can do is act fast and move on.

If the situation requires some more finessing, it usually helps to have a plan for managing the unexpected. If you’re able to maintain some flexibility in your outlook and be realistic in expectations for yourself, you will find it much easier to create a plan for addressing and conquering the stress.

Step 3. Recognize Worry

Stress and worry are two very different things, although they go hand-in-hand for many of us. Excessive worrying can cause increased stress, but worry is typically something that creates self-imposed anxiety and it’s usually unnecessary.

Practice controlling the worry by focusing on the causes of stress, putting it in perspective and taking specific action to eliminate it.

Step 4. Let It Go

Once you’ve identified the trigger, acknowledged the cause of your added stress and formulated a plan to manage the situation, it’s time to move on. Don’t let the stress fester and multiply, and start a new cycle.

And keep in mind that you always have a choice. You can choose how you handle the stress and even what causes stress in your life. Working to keep things in perspective will help you to move past stressful situations without letting them derail you.

How do you manage everyday stress? What helps you keep everything in perspective?

Image credit: zweettooth

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  • Anonymous

    How do you manage everyday stress?

    Alcohol and TV.

  • Gabriela D

    What helps me when i’m stressed is realizing that there are lots of things out there that i can not control. The only thing that is in my hands to control is how i react about them.

  • loganathan

    thanks, useful article, i am working in computer..

  • Joseph S.

    What about booze?

    Oh and loganathan… it must be cramped in that computer… you should come out… there’s work to be done out here as well.

  • Dr. Phil

    The best remedies for handling stress are lifestyle changes (e.g., nutrition, sleep, exercise), attitude (similar to what your article addresses in Step 4), and setting boundaries for yourself (reasonable expectations and knowing you can’t do it all) and others (not enabling people to take advantage of you, robbing you of time, emotional energy, etc.).

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    The trouble with relying on drugs to combat stress (and yes, alchohol is a drug), is that it’s not long before the drugs themselves become the primary source of stress.

  • EvanGR

    Check out on Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Lot’s of videos on youtube also.

  • B

    Alcohol and TV – +1. The more I drink, the later I work, the better I feel in the morning when I think “imagine if I hadn’t got that stuff done last night!” Clients also go easy on you when they see you sending emails to them at 1am – they know you’re doing the hard yards….

  • hairybob

    large quantities of alcohol remains the only long term cure for stress and other forms of more serious mental illness… :)

  • http://www.parkingrebel.com Zygoma

    I find exercise ia a great stress buster. Join a gym, get on a running machine and get your heart rate up for a good 20 mins and bingo natures natural pain killers kick in and you feel alive again :-)

  • Adil K

    I go to you youtube and watch stand up comedy shows they have uploaded. That gets me through the day when there are lots of boring tasks lined up.

  • Anonymous

    “And keep in mind that you always have a choice.” Free will is a very powerful gift.

  • http://www.mankatowebdesign.com/ mankatowebdesign

    Just make sure never to pickup smoking, not a good way to deal with stress at all.

    Minneapolis Web Design
    Web Design Minneapolis

  • markmccorkell

    If I can’t handle it… I know Jack (Daniels) will!

  • Dawn Baird

    Ditch the computer and go for a long walk in the pounding rain (easy enough in NI).

  • Anonymous

    I think music is a greatest way to control our stress. one more think when you feel your are in deep stress pressure, please close your eyes and think about your pleasant events in your life. it may be cool your stress point. Please throw it away from your mind, it is not need to your good health. Be happy, life is give very short time to us so enjoy it in its way!!!

    Mari