Going through something lately? As the saying goes, if you aren’t in a storm, you either just came out of one, or you are headed towards one. It may sound pessimistic, but truly, it’s just life. Things happen. Things you’d rather not happen, happen. The key to maintaining your sanity lies in how you think about your challenges. Use these four strategies to reduce your stress in the midst of a challenge:
1. Focus on what you can control.
It is easy when facing a challenge to try to control everything. But a more effective approach is to get clear about the outcome you want to see unfold. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to create that outcome?” It is easy to get distracted by the drama or frustrations of your challenge, but remain grounded and calm by refusing to allow distractions to cloud your thinking. Focus on the things you can do something about.
2. Accept what you cannot change.
It may be upsetting. It may be frustrating. But it is what it is. The sooner you accept what is, the sooner you can move forward. Resisting the inevitable is a waste of your precious energy.
3. Talk about it, but not too much.
When faced with a challenge, it can help to talk it through with a trusted person in your life. Getting things off your chest can leave you feeling lighter and clearer about how to move forward. But choose your talking partner wisely – some friends will get you more worked up than you already are! And that’s no good for your stress level. Choose someone who won’t feed the fire of negative emotions, but someone who will give you a helpful perspective, and the resolve to tackle the issue at hand in a wise way.
4. Manage your energy.
Some challenges are ongoing – a job loss, divorce, and problems with your health or your children, for example. Daily meditation, exercise and restful sleep will all help you reduce stress and manage your energy. But some challenges are in the moment – someone upsets you at work, for example. When you feel tempted to over respond in the heat of the moment, pause for a moment to give yourself a chance to contain that negative energy. Whether it’s a few deep breaths or a walk around the block, pausing before reacting can significantly reduce stress, and create a response to stress that de-escalates a situation and prevents you from doing or saying something you’ll later regret.
My challenge to you:
Identify the areas in your life that you cannot change. Accept it, and make a decision to move forward.
Pray about it. What next step do you feel led to take?