Unless you live in a protective bubble with a truckload of servants doing your every bidding, we all experience stress on a variety of levels – work stress, traffic, health, financial concerns, relationships and more. There is little that we can do to completely escape it but if you can find ways to effectively manage it, you will always be able to cope with it in a manner that doesn’t have a negative impact on your life. The following steps will help you to do so if you remember to employ them whenever you feel that stress is beginning to control your thoughts and your life.
Initially, stop worrying about what others think about you. Repeat this to yourself: Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business. What you must remember is that everyone has a perception of you that doesn’t actually have anything to do with you. It’s based on their own lives, their own values and their own individual situations. It is irrelevant. True self-esteem comes from within, in knowing your own principles and being true to them.
You also need to learn when to say no and to say it in such a way that it is not simply a dismissal. Your tone and your attitude toward saying no are extremely telling and if you feel guilty about it, it will show. You don’t need to come up with complex justifications when saying no. You only need to state it confidently and quietly, and then move on.
Something that people will often do is to extend their imagination way beyond the present and dramatize the effect of things that are happening in the here and now by creating false predictions of how they will manifest in the future. They’ll tell themselves that the mistake they made at work today will lead to their firing which will leave them homeless and begging on the streets for change to get something to eat. Really. People do that. Don’t be those people. Stay present and look at the reality of the situation and consider what can be done right now. Make a plan to deal with the situation (i.e. fix the error, apologize to a customer, etc.) and then take those actions and move on. Once you’ve done everything you can to manage the issue, put it in the past and leave it there.
If you are one of the lucky people that have the innate ability to shift your perspective, do it. I’ve been trying to master this technique for years and I have about a 50/50 success rate. If at all possible, detach emotionally from the situation and try to observe it from a factual point of view. For example, you are stuck in traffic on your way to an important engagement. Look at the traffic and accept the fact that you cannot control it and that you must simply accept that you will be late. If you can make a call to say so, then do that, then turn up the music, enjoy the down time that you are being forced to take and let it go. Do not attach emotion to it. It’s out of your hands and it’s not personal.
Speaking of music, use it whenever you can to change your mood. Will some rap let you release some anger? Will a sappy love song help you shed a tear and release some pressure? Will Pharrell’s Happy make you feel happy? Then crank it up and let it flow. Find the music that appeals to your sensory needs and employ that tactic to help you feel better.