In order to effectively manage your stress, it’s important to understand your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Do they minimize or maximize your stress? Once you understand how your thoughts, feelings, and actions impact you, you’ll be able to make positive changes and manage your stress before it takes over and manages you!
Below is a list of common “mental traps”. Take a moment to check the ones that you believe apply to your stressful thinking:
Polarized Thinking: Things are black or white, good or bad, all or nothing. For example, you have to be perfect or you're a failure. There is no gray area or middle ground, good isn’t enough.
Mind Reading: Without asking the person you assume that you know what they are thinking and feeling, you think you know why they act the way they do, especially if it’s connected to you. An example of this is thinking “I know she doesn’t like me.”
Personalization: Thinking that everything people say or do is somehow related to you or a reaction to you. You may often compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s better, smarter, prettier, etc.
Control Fallacies: this is when you feel externally controlled, your mood depends on how others relate to you and events that need to happen for you to feel ok. Often you’re left with a sense of helplessness and disappointment becoming “a victim of fate”. Sometimes this can be also presented as feel responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you which can be stressful and overwhelming.
After examining the way you’re filtering information, examine behaviors that can contribute to your stress. An example of this might be worrying about situations you can't control or fail to see choices, having “tunnel vision” can make you closed to possibilities. Other times you perhaps tend to procrastinate or expect perfection of yourself and/or others which can become frustrating and increase your levels of stress.
Resisting change through inflexibility and rigidity or turning all situations into competitions where someone has to win and someone has to lose can increase stress. By focusing on strengths rather than faults and being more compassionate toward yourself, you can start to explore other ways to address life situations in a more flexible and positive way.
When dealing with stress you can also smile as you think: “my body doesn’t need this, let me take a few deep breaths and find ways to deal with one problem at the time.” You can also close your eyes and picture yourself in a place you enjoy like the beach or an open field. Nature tends to create a sense of peace and relaxation for most people. Try it and see how it works. When you open your eyes set the intention of being present in the here and now and deal with your stressors mindfully.
Breathing also tends to help when you’re trying to relax and cope with stress. You can breathe in slowly and deeply as you think “I am calm”, exhale releasing the tension in your body. If you feel that you’re holding a lot of tension in your body take a warm bath with sea salts and aromatherapy, go to a yoga class, or get a massage.
There’s not a perfect formula to deal with stress, you need to try different things and identify what works for you. The key to quick stress relief is to become more self-aware, experiment, and discover the unique tools that work best for you to manage stress on a regular basis.
If you think that stress is affecting your life in different areas, you can always contact Carolina for a FREE phone assessment. Therapy can help you learn effective tools to manage stress and have a deeper understanding of how stress is impacting your life. Remember: “It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.”
Please contact Carolina directly at 561.305.2497 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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