How to Deal with Stress
Those looking how to deal with stress are often looking to decrease the amount of stress in their lives. There are certainly some types of stress that are bad, but it's silly to think that a complete lack of stress is the right answer as well. Is it negative when the Olympic athlete feels pressure to go for the gold after years worth of training? It is harmful for a writer to set a deadline for him or herself to finish the next chapter or novel? Absolutely not. If you want to deal with stress, you first need to realize that there are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress, which has the same prefix as euphoria, means good stress. We tend to give stress a bad name but in actuality, the different between eustress and distress tends to be how we handle stress in general.
If you have scheduled yourself to take three more classes than any other student in college, while trying to run a tutoring business and win over a late night party owl in your spare time, you might have a bit of distress in your life. If you have a job, a family and you want to write a book in your spare time, this stress might feel negative but if you can learn to deal with stress in the right way, you can turn it into the positive kind. The first step in how to deal with stress is to be grateful for what you have going for you.
Imagine the stress in your life is like a painting. If you use only dark colors and use ominous figures, you'll probably end up with a pretty dreary, distressing picture. If you paint everything with more light, fluffy tones, the big, scary monsters you created in the "dark" painting, won't look nearly as harmful. As in many aspects of life, a lot of your success depends on how you look at things. Look at them more positively by talking, thinking and believing in the more optimistic areas of life. Write out at least five things you are grateful for every day for a month and a good chunk of your stress will seem to evaporate.
Gratitude isn't a save-all, however, and there are still some aspects of stress that can make you feel overwhelmed. The second step of how to deal with stress is learning to release your distress using some positive daily habits. Some of these habits include exercise, eating a healthy diet, meditation, laughing, thinking about your future, yoga, dancing and a host of other activities. The movement best stress releasers work well because they boost you up with endorphins, hormones that make stress feel less stressful. Meditation, yoga and contemplation can center you and allow you to think more logically. Since a lot of stress tends to be driven by your negative emotions, these releasing activities can keep that negativity at bay, thus decreasing their effect on you.
The third step in how to deal with stress is to reward yourself for even the smallest victories. Stress tends to compound because most worthy projects take much longer than a day to complete. We let our stress accumulate from day to day because the end of the project seems so far away we get down on ourselves, like Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill, only to see it roll back down for another day of pushing. Reward yourself for small accomplishments with positivity and occasional partying. Actually tell yourself you've done a good job. Set up a little celebration with your team (or your family or friends) commemorating one hurdle being out of the way. Getting into the habit of building yourself up at each small success, will make you that much more inspired to make it past the next road block.
Every stressful situation is different and this three-step plan to deal with stress may not be right for you. That being said, it's adaptable to most and I think almost any stressful existence could do with more gratitude, positive daily habits and celebration of small milestones. Try it out in the toughest area of your life and see how your attitude and rate of success improves!
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