Sometimes it seems like everyone around me is experiencing some sort of stress

Good stress, bad stress… something taxing that seems to put people on edge.

We often assume stress is “bad” – but I think a certain amount of stress can be good.

Stress causes us to push ourselves to perform at higher and more extreme levels than we ordinarily would. Stress can push us to achieve more than usual, and it can also push us over the edge.

How far you allow stress to push you is entirely up to you.

And that’s the key.

It’s entirely up to you.

The dictionary tells us stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” It’s “pressure or tension that can cause mental or emotional strain.”

How about a wedding? Does a wedding produce good stress or bad stress?

I had the pleasure of attending a family wedding recently where the bride appeared to sail through the whole weekend, seemingly above the stress that bride’s often feel when all eyes are on them during their big day. She was a gracious and beautiful hostess and the whole weekend seemed to flow freely and easily.

I asked the bride about this and she said: “What have I got to be stressed about? My family is here, my friends, everything is planned. And I’m getting married! What have I got to be stressed about?”

Well – I could think of a few things, but if she wasn’t seeing it, who am I to cause her to see things differently?

The point, as I said above, is it’s entirely up to you if you choose to be stressed about something or not. It is entirely in your control.

It’s entirely up to you if you choose to be stressed about something or notClick To Tweet

So, what’s the difference? How is it that some people can become completely stressed out over a wedding while others sail through seemingly unscathed?

Let’s break it down.

I read recently “The simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.”

This includes your lifestyle, your thoughts, your emotions and the way you deal with problems.

The simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.Click To Tweet

I am not oblivious to being stressed. I am notorious for taking on as much as I can humanly stand before saying “OK! That’s enough! No more!”

So I have many, many stress-management tricks up my sleeve.

Here are a few of them:

My Top 7 ways to manage stress in my personal and my professional life:

  1. Breathe

    This seems so simple – to remember to breathe – but the next time you’re in a stressful situation, notice (if you can) what you’re doing with your breath. Are you holding it? Are you hyperventilating?

    Or are you actually breathing?

    If you slow your breath down, you will actually slow your thoughts down as well, and be able to process the situation in a more manageable, thoughtful, purposeful, state.

  2. Exercise

    People often comment on my ability to stay committed to my exercise routine during prolonged periods of stress. My response? I can’t afford not to! Exercising regularly helps me take care of myself physically and emotionally.

    It’s an outlet for managing the extra burdens our body takes on during times of increased responsibility, and it gives us time to think – away from the external source of the stress.

    I’ve also heard this tip referred to as “walk the dog.” When the going gets tough – take the dog for a walk – figuratively or literally.

    It gets you out of the environment that could be causing you stress and often diffuses the situation by your own ability to process what’s going on as well as giving the people you left behind the chance to look at things differently.

  3. Go to the washroom

    OK, I permit you to laugh at this one, but it’s true – we often forget to take care of our basic physical needs during times of stress. This includes eating and sleeping.

    In my role as a Crisis Communications Strategist which I took on many, many times throughout my career as a Communications Consultant, the first thing I would tell my colleagues is to “go to the washroom!” They would look at me in startled realization that – why yes, – they actually did have to go to the washroom and they were thankful for the reminder.

    What else do you need to be reminded of in times of professional stress? Probably to eat, and to keep regular bedtimes, if at all possible. Your body will thank you for it.

  4. Write it down

    Often, the stress that we experience gets exceptionally built up in our heads. Our brains and our emotions can make our stress seem bigger than it actually is.

    What if you wrote it down?

    I tried this recently, and what I thought were 10 things stressing me out were actually more like three. If you write down the issues, then it makes them real and tangible. It usually minimizes them and you can create an action plan to mitigate them.

  5. Take action

    After thoughtful consideration about all the options, taking action to make the situation better will give you comfort that you are doing something to improve the circumstances.

    Stress isn’t always imagined; often there is something you can do that will help. Common sources of stress – especially stress in the workplace – involve having too much to do and too little time to do it in.

    After you have taken the time you need to breathe and look at the situation from a more calm perspective, choose which items would benefit from immediate action. And then do them.

    Better yet, mobilize others to take on some tangible action items as well. You keeping a cool head and demonstrating leadership will help mitigate the stress others are undoubtedly feeling as well.

  6. The list of don’ts

    There’s a big list of “don’ts” as well.

    Don’t drink too much alcohol.
    Don’t smoke – anything.
    Don’t drink too much coffee.
    Don’t put things in your body that will alter your mental state.

    These are temporary fixes at best and could easily make the situation worse. Avoid contact with people (if possible) who are causing the stress you are experiencing.

  7. Do something you like every day

    I have one last “do” for you – please do something you like every day.

    This will keep your happiness quotient a little higher and help prevent you from becoming too resentful of all the demands being placed on you. What is something that makes you feel happier and is something that you feel like is actually for you?

    Figure that out. And then go do it.

Do you have any stress-busting tips that work for you? I’d love to hear! Post them in the comment section below or send me a message.

And if you need some help managing your stress levels – getting stress under control and helping identify “What’s Next?” for you is my specialty. Apply today for a complimentary consultation.

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Susan Elford

Personal Balance Equation Workbook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a PR Strategist & Leadership Coach who especially loves to work with people who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a balanced life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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