Stress is an integral part of life and how we respond to it will either fuel your success and well-being or pile on even more stress. Here are three tips to leveraging stress and making it work for you:
* Understand the true nature of “Stress.”
Stress is actually necessary for performing at your best. Human beings are like the strings on a violin; both need to be stretched to optimal levels…or performance suffers. High achievers think differently about stress and thrive on it and you can do the same.
The key is to monitor and master your levels of stress so you don’t reach the point of “over-whelm.” What is “over-whelm,” in practical terms? Simply put, it’s what you experience when you believe you can’t “rise to the challenge.” It’s just too much for you…and you feel it on emotional and physical levels.
If you’re given a project at work you think is beyond your capabilities, you’ll likely be overwhelmed and over-stressed.
So, what can you do to keep your stress at optimal levels where you feel energized, motivated and in control?
First, understand that “over-whelm” doesn’t automatically happen…it’s created when you believe you aren’t “up to the challenge.” So, the key is not to eliminate “stressful situations,” which is impossible. The key is to develop your capability to feel strong and powerful on demand for whatever comes your way at work or in life. Put yourself in a position where you’re ready for future challenges.
Secondly, don’t sell yourself short! Realize how capable you are of learning how to be more resilient and resourceful. Don’t listen to the experts who tell you how hard change is or or how difficult it is to deal with pressure, change and uncertainty. That will become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the wrong direction.
We cannot control what “life” brings to us, but we have more influence over what happens to us than we think! It’s about improving our beliefs, our behaviors, our skill-sets and ourselves so that we are ready for future challenges.
* Prevent stress before it begins.
Most of the stress that people experience is self-created and self-perpetuated; you have far more control over your stress levels than you think. Preventing stress in the first place is a brilliant strategy and is a matter of being proactive rather than reactive
Here are two examples:
• Go to your manager and explain early on that the project you were working on isn’t going to happen when expected versus waiting until the last minute to inform her.
• If you're in sales, be assertive in the sales prospecting and sales process and get a clear yes or no for moving on to the next step. Delaying the “no” in an attempt to avoid stress is futile; it actually causes more stress.
* Nurture Your Relationships.
Your key relationships at home, work and play are “antioxidants” to stress and help build your emotional and physical immune system. Choose one of your relationships and decide to do one thing today that will make that relationship even better.
The next time you are having a conflict with a client, colleague, friend or family member, ask yourself what is more important:
• The relationship…or being right?
• Is it more important for you to build the relationship or to temporarily feel better by venting your feelings at the wrong time in the wrong way?
Put things into perspective and your stress will melt away. Keep your head, especially when those around you are being difficult and losing theirs. Lead the way instead of reacting to situations and others and you will see positive results in the long run.
Nurture your relationships because they are the foundation for everything else. Keep this in mind at all times: How you communicate and relate to others will create stress for you or give you a sense of fulfillment, peace of mind and meaning.
When thinking of your relationships, remember that the most important one you have is the relationship with yourself. Treat yourself with consideration and respect. Be good to yourself. Treat yourself the way others would treat you if they were acting in your best interest...and you will eliminate an immeasurable amount of stress before it even happens.
The bottom line is that while we don’t control everything that happens in life, we are responsible for whether we take charge of our stress or not. Anyone who wants to go from being over-stressed to “stress-hardy” can do that by focusing on the three areas we’ve discussed:
• Understanding the true nature of stress
• Preventing stress before it begins
• Nurturing your relationships
© Alan Allard 2009
Alan Allard is a former psychotherapist who decided many people don't need therapy; they need coaching that can transform their life and career. Get Alan's free newsletter for tips and strategies to remove hidden barriers and move forward now at: http://www.alanallard.com