It's difficult to stay driven if stress takes over. We've invited Donna Hubbard, life coach from Be Dynamic Coaching, to share her tips on how to build resilience to stress.
On a scale of 1 – 10, how stressed would you say you feel today? Wherever you place yourself on that scale right now, stress is something that can seriously affect all of us at times. The S word can negatively impact our productivity, decisions and overall happiness. So what exactly is stress and what can we do to minimise the level we experience in our lives?
“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or demands placed upon them. Where those pressures exceed the person’s current perceived resources and coping ability.” International Stress Management Association, 2013
The best way to overcome something is to understand it more. Looking at the above definition we can see that it is hinting at the 2 areas we can focus on in order to develop a better stress management system for our lives. These areas are 1. our reaction and 2. our perception towards stress inducing situations. We’ll come back to cracking both of these things later...
But Isn’t A Bit of Stress Good For Us?
If we feel we have the resources both internally and externally (e.g. self confidence, experience, support etc.) to cope with a situation, then we will experience pressure and not stress. So even if we feel a little nervous about the outcome, all the time we perceive ourselves as being in the driving seat we will most likely enjoy the buzz this positive pressure (as it is sometimes known) gives us. Hands up if you are a little addicted to this feeling and recognise it as a positive force in your life that drives you? You certainly aren’t alone there...
Developing Your Resilience To Stress
Here’s 4 ways you can develop your resilience to stress and lead a happier, more balanced life.
1.Pinpoint the Gremlins
If you feel stress may be affecting your life, then the first step is to take a brave look at what is going on and why. So grab a pen and bit of paper and work through the questions below to pinpoint the gremlins (i.e. stressors) in your life right now.
- What situations are currently causing you stress? - Why do you think this is? What about this situation concerns you? - What impact is this stress having upon you and your life?
2. Evaluate What You’re Seeing
Here we tackle the perception part from the definition of stress above. Our perception has a profound impact on our experiences in life and here’s why...
What we Perceive /Think affects how we Feel, how we Feel affects how we Act and then our Actions further feed our Perception of a situation.
This is known as the Think – Feel– Act cycle founded in psychology and it explains why we do the things we do. Compare how you view the situations in your life that excite you with those that scare you, what’s the difference? Do you know people who are excited by the things that scare you and vice versa? This all comes down to the difference in our perceptions.
Look at each situation you noted as a stressor in your life and ask yourself:
- How am I currently viewing this situation? - Is this perception helping or hindering my ability to cope with it? - What evidence tells me that I do in fact have what it takes to deal with this? That everything will be ok? - What would a more helpful (i.e. that would help me deal with the situation better) perception be?
3. Put On Your Circle of Influence Hat
Now it’s time to look at the reaction part from the definition of stress above. In life there are things we can control and things we can’t. How much time and emotional investment we spend on the things within these categories has a direct link to how stressed we feel. The more time we spend on the things that we can control the happier and more empowered we are. The reverse is also true, if we spend most of our time and efforts on the things we can’t control the less happy and more disempowered we become. The latter approach to life is both a contributor and accelerator to stress, therefore we must remind ourselves to wear our Circle of Influence Hat as much as possible.
Source: Jari Sarasvuo, the model has been adapted from Stephen Covey's Circle of Influence.
How much time do you spend worrying about all the things that are out of your hands?
If you were to focus this time on finding a solution that is within your control instead, what difference would this make to you?
4. Take 5
In the heat of a stressful moment our autopilot response can cause us to be reactive. Whether that means we say something we regret or behave in a way that doesn’t serve us, being reactive is a symptom that we are not feeling in control and it can make situations much worse. So it’s helpful to find a way to take ourselves off of autopilot and fly with our minds fully engaged for a while!
To help you ‘take 5’ and respond constructively in a stressful situation, perhaps sing the first chorus of your favourite song to yourself in your head (sound nuts but it may just work...) count to 5 or think about a person you care about for a few minutes. Changing focus for a while helps you to regain perspective and gives you a chance to think before you act.
Now as we are all wonderfully human we may not win the war with our autopilot all of the time, but if we can take charge of our emotions and manage our behaviour a little better even just 30 - 50% more of the time, the positive outcomes will be huge.
I’d love to hear about your experiences so please do get in touch with me or share your comments here on the blog.
Founder Be Dynamic Coaching
LI: Donna Hubbard
Donna supports women in bringing the goals that really matter to them, to life. She helps individuals to develop a resilient and empowered frame of mind so that they can create the lives they want. This is what she calls the dynamic effect. What goal do you want to start creating?