stressed-outStress. The word we use when we feel pressured, angry, confused, and a host of other things. I’m stressed! We use the word “stress” because it’s sometimes difficult to identify the particular emotions we’re feeling. Stress or stressed or stressing seems appropriate. Well, it probably is.

Stress can be caused by all kinds of things or nothing at all. The cable guy didn’t show up at the right time. The kids toppled the television. There’s a huge red juice stain on the carpet. Maybe it’s an argument with a spouse, boss, or family member. Stress is something we all endure. So how do we deal with it?

First, we have to determine the nature and source of the stress. Here’s a hint – regardless of what is or isn’t going on around us, stress actually begins between the ears. How we think determines how we ultimately feel. What event or situation, in general, do you feel stressed about?

Second, identify the stressful parts. In most circumstances it isn’t the whole situation or circumstance. There’s usually some small part that brings about fear, worry, dread, regret, anger, or some other emotion. What part of this particular circumstance screams STRESS to you? Identifying the part(s) that bring the most emotion will go a long way in determining what to do about it.

Regardless of what is or isn’t going on around us, stress actually begins between the ears.

How we think determines how we ultimately feel.

Third, take action where you can. There may be some parts of this situation that you can impact. What parts can you change? Be careful! Even when there are parts you can impact, you may not want to. You have to determine the value of your impact and whether it’s worth it in the long run. Here’s another tip – will you care about this in the future? Will it matter a week from now? How about a month? How about longer than that? If it doesn’t matter in some way for the long-term (defined however you would like), is it really worth the effort? For example, do I want to spend a day working on – and worrying about – something that won’t matter next week? Probably not.

Fourth, decide to not give attention to the things you cannot control or that don’t matter. If we take an honest look at things, our conclusions will usually be that most things won’t matter a week or even a day later. Why give those things attention? It’s simply not worth it. Some things may be very important but out of our ability to influence them. If we give our attention to things beyond our control, we have stepped into excessive worry. Worrying is an attempt to control things we can’t. Paying less attention to those things until (or even if) they happen, will cut down on the overall feeling of being stressed.

How do we know when to seek help? If stress is getting to the point you’re starting to have problems like these, it might be time:

  1. Not being able to go to sleep
  2. Not being able to stay asleep
  3. Worrying excessively
  4. Having trouble concentrating
  5. Panic attacks
  6. Arguing with others
  7. General anger outbursts
  8. Having low energy

If you need some assistance dealing with stress in your life, contact us. We’d love to help!