Tag Archives: Scope

10 Practical Ways To Handle Stress

Stress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodgeball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is the lack of time. Their to-do list expands while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

6. Pick off the negotiable tasks from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, “Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn.

9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushroom into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D., talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it, whereas caring is taking action. When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, try this activity where you can list responses for each one. For example:

Worrying about your health involves…

Caring about your health involves…

Worrying about your career involves…

Caring about your career involves…

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As the researcher, Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth and it’s not self-improvement.”

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.

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How To Deal With Disappointment?

Dealing With Disappointment – Constructively.

– Put yourself in a clearer mental state.

Whenever you experience disappointment, you are pulled down into a lower state of consciousness, where your thoughts are predominantly rooted in fear, sadness, grief or even apathy. There may be times when the feeling of disappointment is so overwhelming that it feels like the end of the world.

Being trapped in such a state it prevents you from thinking logically and clearly. When dealing with disappointment, your first focus should be to bring your consciousness up to a more neutral or positive level such as desire, neutrality, willingness and reason so that you are in a better position to react to your situation.

Look for positive activities where you can recharge yourself. What activities do you most enjoy doing in your life? Identify them. It can be writing in your personal journal, playing games, walking in the park, watching a happy movie or talking to positive friends. If you find that reading your favorite book uplifts you, then pick up the book and start reading it. If taking a stroll along your neighborhood makes you more relaxed, then get out of your house and enjoy the breeze outside. If playing games can make you feel happier, go ahead and play them. Do whatever makes you feel better. Sometimes, simply spending time alone might be the best way for you to clear out your mental clutter and regain personal energy.

For me, I find that a combination of activities including alone time, talking with my good friends, watching my favorite shows, reading novels and dancing help to lift me up considerably. I absolutely love dancing; whenever I am playing them I get a lot of exhilaration and fun out of the exercise. In times when I feel really down, I would rather prefer spending time by myself. This alone time allows me sort out the thoughts in my mind, think without external interference’s and gain clarity on what to do in my situation. Talking with my friends, on the other hand, makes me privy to other perspectives and thoughts which I may not be aware of in the beginning.

– Attach with your desires, not your goals.

When you are disappointed, your source of disappointment is rooted in your over-attachment to a certain outcome. When an outcome does not manifest the way you envisioned, you become disappointed. This is a perfectly natural response. However, understand that your expectations in the outcome, or goals, is a reflection or external projection of an underlying desire you have. They might or might not be accurate projections, because they are merely subjective interpretations of what you think is needed to live up to your underlying desire.

For example, let’s say you went for an interview with Company A. You love the job scope, the benefits package is great, you have heard rave reviews about the place. All in all, you see a career at Company A as the equivalent of your dream career. However, you are passed over for another candidate whom they deemed as a better fit for the role. Company A happens to have a policy of only accepting applications from the same candidate once every 2 years. There is no way you can try until 2 years later. What should you do from here?

The second step toward dealing with disappointment requires you to attach yourself to the desires behind your desires, not your goals. Start off by recognizing that a job in Company A is just a projection of your inner desires. Your inner desire may be to get a career which challenges and stretches you in a dynamic working environment. If there’s the case, there are many ways you can do that, such as working in Company G, Company X, or even setting up your own business. Working at Company A is just one of the many ways which you can achieve that.

A common example where people tie themselves too much to their external projections of their desires is in relationships. For example, you like person A. You want to be together with him/her, but the person A does not reciprocate the feelings. While you may feel disappointed, stop and think – What are your underlying intents? It is to be in a loving, authentic relationship with someone. Person A is just one of the many people in this world who can make you feel love. He/she is not going to be only person you are capable of loving; there are many other people out there whom you will love as well. Instead of tying all your expectations to this one person, link yourself with the underlying desire to find real, authentic love.

Ask yourself this question: What are your actual desires that are driving your expectations? Understand what they are and list them down. Say you are at point A and you want to move to point B. When you link yourself with these desires, you will realize that point B is just one of the many destinations you can go to. There are many other possible destinations, such as point C, D, E.. all the way to Z, then there’s even A-1, A-2.. and so on, where you can achieve your desires just as well, if not better. Attach yourself to your desires, not your interpretations of what will achieve your desires.

– Release yourself of your mental illusion.

The next step in dealing with your disappointment is to release yourself of your mental illusions of what reality should be. Many people remain in a disappointed state because they are hung up over their expectations of what reality should be. If you are disappointed over something, you are harboring certain perceptions of what it should be. These perceptions are not the reality; they are figments in your mind which are untrue. If they are true, why are they causing you disappointment?

These mental illusions are dis-empowering because they keep you caught in the negative state you are in. As long as you are trapped in them, it prevents you from progressing toward where you want to go. Dealing with disappointment requires you to let yourself go of the mental illusions.

When you are disappointed, ask yourself this – what is it that I am getting hung up over? What false perceptions am I still clinging myself on with? What am I expecting from the reality that it is not giving me? Seek these illusions out, one by one. Question yourself how and when you came to have the illusions. Become aware of them and release yourself from them. These illusions are giving you an inaccurate view of reality. They are preventing you from acting constructively on your situation or living your life the way you should.

If we look at the same relationship example from above, you are disappointed in the situation because you wanted to be with person A. You feel that you have lost what could have been a great relationship. However, that is actually just an illusion in your mind that you are playing in your head. If person A does not want to be with you for whichever reasons, he/she is not going to be the person who can achieve your desire for a relationship. He/she is not going to be the person who can give you want you desire. Your belief that he/she is the one for you is actually an illusion that you need to release yourself of.

– Understand the outcome is not a setback.

Disappointments are good is because it represents an opportunity for growth. Many people become disappointed with occurrences because they view that as a setback or a failure vs what they want to achieve. They feel like they have taken a step back from what they have come to acknowledge or expect.

For example, say you did a lot of preparation and late night studying for your exams. You had the belief that these actions, along with what you knew about your reality, would result in you getting high flying results. However, instead of achieving that outcome, you fell short of your expectations.

While you may be feeling disappointed, this experience is actually showing you that there is a misconception in your thinking. What you originally thought is sufficient to achieve your outcome actually isn’t. Instead, you may need to increase your resources or change your approach to achieve the results you want. Your disappointment is actually helping you to move toward your goals, not away from it as you originally thought.

Your experience has resulted in you obtaining new lessons, whether about yourself, the situation or even the world. You have gained something which nobody else is privy to. How can an outcome be a setback if it gave you something new to learn about? As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” With this new learning, you walk away from previous experience as a better person. You will become a stronger individual. You reach a whole new level of awareness, consciousness and growth which you never had before.

– Moving Forward: Focus on doing the best you can.

Dealing with disappointment is definitely not an easy task, but if you work hard at the steps mentioned above, it will eventually help to pull you out of the void state you are in. As you start living past your disappointments, focus on living in fullest alignment with your desires, instead of your goals. Continue to have goals. Let them drive you forward. However, take note not to attach yourself with these goals. When you do that, you start to fall into the trap of associating your existence with them. This is not sustainable because those goals are just external outcomes which are impermanent.

I have a good friend who once said to me – “Life is not just about reaching the goals; it’s about living it to the fullest.” And he is right. In every situation you are in, choose the action which lets you live in alignment with your inner desires the most, within your abilities, within your situational contexts. As long as you are doing that, there is no reason why you should feel down or bad, because you have done all that you can. When you start doing that, you will find that you are able to live consciously and freely instead of subjecting yourself to outcomes. You are able to constructively channel the passion of your inner desires to live the kind of life you want.

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