Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”.
These days stress can come from work pressure, examinations, psychosocial stress, and physical stresses due to trauma, surgery, and various medical disorders.
Everyone deals with stress differently, and what might stress one person out would hardly bother another person.
Stress comes in different “flavours,” including traumatic, physical, and the most common, emotional.
Emotional stress effects are similar to depression. With persistent emotional stress, you might lose or gain weight. You might notice sleep changes. You maybe feel isolated and struggle with mood swings. Needless to say, these feelings and changes can sabotage your life and your happiness.
Here are some tips on how you can cope with emotional stress.
First start a stress journal so you can identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them.
Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:
- What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)
- How you felt, both physically and emotionally
- How you acted in response
- What you did to make yourself feel better
While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at predictable times: your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings, for example.
When handling such predictable stressors, you can either change the situation or change your reaction.
When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Can you avoid unnecessary stress?
Start saying no, avoid people who lead you to feel stressed, make changes to your routine (such as not watching the news if this creates stress).
If you can’t avoid, what can you alter?
Express your feelings to those people who are leading to your stress, if you don’t then resentment will build and the stress will increase.
Be willing to compromise, you are more likely to find a happy middle ground.
Create a balanced schedule. Try to find a balance between work, family and hobbies.
If you can’t change your stressor, then what can you adapt?
Adapting helps you to regain your sense of control and attitude.
Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective.
Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will your 95 year-old self look back on this as something that was worth getting upset over? If the answer is no then focus your time elsewhere.
Adjust Your Standards. Learn to be okay with good enough. Trying to be perfect leads us to setting ourselves up for failure.
Practice gratitude. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life. This helps us keep things in perspective.
Create an anchor. This is where you use something like a sound, movement or smell to anchor to a feeling, this help you to adapt to a situation in a more positive way. One anchor can be using essential oils. The limbic memory is a powerful part of the brain but can be re-engineered. You can use an oil that is associated with calming when you want to feel calm, even if you’re not experiencing that feeling.
Accept the things you can’t change
Some stresses in life cannot be avoided. In such cases, the best way to cope with this emotional stress is to accept things as they are.
Acceptance may be difficult, but it’s easier than trying to fight a situation you can’t change.
Focus on what you can control. Some things are out of our control, such as death, behaviours of other people, the weather and traffic. But we can control how we choose to react to these.
Look for the positive. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
Learn to forgive. Accept that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
Share your feelings. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.