Most of us experience stress, and some fairly often. How can you deal with stressors in a way that works to keep you calm, focused and capable? When painful emotions arise, it’s because there is something to which your subconscious is reacting that is not aligned with what you need. For example, frustration may arise because you aren’t feeling on track to achieve your goal. Anxiety may arise because there is a risk you haven’t yet identified or sufficiently addressed. Here are five steps that will help you react productively.
Take deep even breaths to release tension
When you feel stressed, using slow and even breathing will help you relax and notice what emotions you are feeling.
Name the emotions that create the stress for you
Acknowledge the specific feelings at play in your current situation. Is it anxiety? Frustration? Resentment? Fear? By giving each emotion a name, you lessen the power of the feeling. It doesn’t go away, but you won’t feel so reactive. Name it to tame it.
Examine the need driving each emotion
Don’t judge the emotion as “good” or “bad.” Instead see the emotion for the message it is sending you. For example, the need to achieve a goal is behind frustration. The need to be safe or protect something you value is behind fear. The need to ease a risk is behind anxiety. Then you can focus on how to address each need. This empowers you to take responsibility rather than act as a victim.
Come up with some options for taking action
Take a look at some ways you can address the ‘need’ you aren’t on track to meet. If you are facing some risks, think about the realistic ones. If you’re frustrated, consider the goal you want to achieve. Ask yourself:
- Do I have an unrealistic expectation?
- What can I do to address what is most important to me?
- Am I taking things too personally?
- Can I let go of something that is not that important?
There are always options, even if you ultimately choose not to pursue them. You may decide to let go of the issue or find a way to re-set your expectations.
Sleep on it first
Your intuition is an important strength you can use by pausing to think before taking action. Give yourself time to check in with your gut. Sometimes we jump too quickly on a decision and then regret it. Your subconscious works must faster than your brain’s executive function. If some objection bubbles up, then take it seriously. Letting your instincts come to the surface will verify your choice or help in creating a new option. Ultimately, your decision will always be better for it.