Have you ever thought that your perception of stress could be the problem rather than the stress itself? If you are a regular reader of our articles, you are familiar with the image below. By letting your fears guide your thoughts, you tend to raise your level of stress through unrealistic scenarios that you keep creating.
Stress is dangerous because you can quickly get used to it. You do not notice how much it is affecting you. It starts to feel familiar — even normal.
Stressful situations are N.U.T.S.
The dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”
MedicineNet says that “in a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stressors can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).
Stress occurs when you perceive that demands placed on you — such as work, family or relationships — exceed your ability to cope.
In other words, we can say that stressful situations are N.U.T.S.:
Novelty: new situation
Unpredictability: a situation you had no way of knowing it would occur
Threat to the ego: a situation that makes you feel your competence is questioned
Sense of Control: a situation that gives you the feeling to have little or no control
To face those ‘NUTS’ situations more easily, here are our 3 steps to reduce your stress level:
1. Understand stress
2. Prevent stress
3. Manage stress
Step 1: understanding stress
Stress is part of life. A bit of stress can be a good thing – it helps you to work harder and faster during a crisis, meaning you can perform at your best when you need to. However, when you are always running in emergency mode, your mind and body are paying the price.
Evidence from a variety of sources explains that there is a link between stress plus emotional distress and the dysfunction of someone's immunologic system, which means that physical health issues may occur due to too much stress and emotional pain. Not only are physical health issues a consequence, but stress can also be the source of depression and anxiety. Learning how to deal with stress – managing it, so it does not control you – is an important skill.
Emotions play a big part in stressful situations. Your emotional intelligence guides your behaviour during stressful situations. So, stress proves to be useful instead of the generally accepted norm that stress should be avoided. You first must undergo a period of pressure and tension before becoming a stronger individual. These periods are new; they challenge your capabilities and mess with your sense of control; that is why we call them 'NUTS'.
Step 2; prevent stress
Good stress may become bad stress if there are too many stressors at the same time. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it usually is an accumulation of smaller stressors. These minor stressors can be your morning routine, poor sleep quality, or your habit of being late. It is essential to think about your daily hassles and find a way how you can change this for the better.
Preventing stress techniques:
Step 3; manage stress
Always preventing stress is an unrealistic practice. Life keeps having its ups and downs; therefore, it is crucial to be able to manage your behaviour when you find yourself in stressful situations. The four A's of stress management provide actionable tips and tricks on how to do this.
The management of stress focusses on the things you can influence. Many people find themselves concentrating on uncontrollable factors in their life. Shift your perspective on how to manage stress from outwards to inwards. You may not be responsible for the cause of the external influences, but you are responsible for how you handle and manage these.
“It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it”— Lou Holtz
Also, staying positive in challenging situations. Think positively, expect only favourable outcomes, and you will see your reality changing. A person with positive thought patterns anticipates happiness, health and success, and believes that he or she can overcome any obstacle and difficulty. Train your conscious mind towards thoughts of success, happiness, health, and prosperity. Learn to weed out negativity such as fear and worry. Keep your conscious mind busy with the expectation of the best, and make sure your thoughts focus on what you want in your life.
Shifting your perspective on stress allows you to transform stress events into learning experiences.
Article written by Sander van Hamburg and Maud Vanhoutte
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