Stress is often a part of being an adult, and it can be messy and overwhelming. Some individuals handle stress a bit better than others, but we could all benefit from some helpful tips to manage stress more effectively.
Figure out where the stress is coming from.
When we’re stressed out, it may seem like darts are being thrown at us from all directions. Instead of dealing with it objectively, we become defensive, which is not necessarily the best position to take.
Sit down and figure out what you’re actually stressed about. Is it something at work, a relationship, your dirty dishes, your finances? Once you pinpoint exactly what you’re stressed about, you’re in a better position to manage it.
Consider what you can control.
Stress is paralyzing sometimes. While you can’t control that loud co-worker who seems to be yelling in your direction all day or your in-laws who don’t like you or the state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you spend your time, and what you spend your money on.
If your loud co-worker is driving you crazy, consider just talking to them about it and asking them to be a bit quieter. If that doesn’t help, though, you have things in your control that can overcome it—like wearing headphones so you don’t have to hear them.
If your finances are stressing you, you can control your spending and create a budget.
Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.
When we’re stressed, we can blow small issues out of proportion thinking that worrying is a productive response to stress. There is a great book called The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy by Chad LeJeune, Ph.D. that discusses this topic in detail. The issue, it explains, is that we mistake worry for action. “Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it.” Caring is something very different. “When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing we care about.”
I loved that LeJeune uses an example of house plants. Let’s say you’ve gone on vacation for a week and forgot to water the plants. You can worry about them every day of the week and then return home to still find them wilted and dying. “Worrying is not watering.”
Fretting about something does nothing but get you all worked up and stressed. Caring about something, however, means doing something to advance the thing you care about (like calling a neighbor to go in and water your plants).
We hope these tips help to better manage your stress. Check out some additional tips and information here.