Ever have so many things on your plate that the thought of having to remember to do just one more thing would make you crazy? Are you struggling to fit in time to make it to the gym and the grocery store? Everyone gets stressed out at times, and it can really affect our quality of life.
How can we keep stress from getting the best of us? Studies show that the way we are affected by stress depends greatly on the way we view the outside world. It’s all about our perception. Stress usually creeps up on us when we feel like what’s happening is out of our control. By simply slowing down to ask ourselves a few questions, we can calmly analyze the situation and get to the root of our anxiety.
Don’t Just Accept Your Situation—Ask Questions
Stress can come from a variety of external factors. Maybe your car broke down, your hours got cut at your job, or your cable bill went up unexpectedly. Many times, we just accept that the world is against us and continue being tense and unhappy. If we slow down to analyze not just the end result but the path to how we got there, we can get a better idea of how it all came about in the first place.
Ask yourself, what am I feeling? Don’t just lump it all under “stress,” which is not really a feeling. Then ask, what is really making me feel this way, and what could I do right now to make the situation better? It could be that you’ve just trained yourself to feel constantly stressed for no reason. If you’re feeling stressed about money because you went over your budget last month from buying lattes every day, you can figure out the solution pretty easily.
Find Out Why
Sometimes you need to go a step further than just asking those three questions. Once you determine how you feel and what is the immediate stressor, you should keep asking questions to get to the root cause. Why do you always feel pressed for time? Why do you schedule so many things back-to-back? Why did you take on extra projects when you knew you were already busy? Work backward to find out where the stressor originated. You may find that some of your stress could have been prevented, and use that information to keep the same thing from happening again in the future.
Come Up With a Plan
After you work out your feelings and get to the bottom of where your stress began, you should feel like you have a lot more power in determining how the outside world affects you. You no longer feel like the victim and are empowered to start making changes to things you can control. Don’t do anything drastic. Think of one particular area of your life that is hanging over you, such as your finances. (Money problems alone cause stress for more than ¾ of Americans). Pick one thing you can start doing today to be smarter about your money, such as bringing a lunch to work instead of eating out. Just by asking yourself questions and then taking small, simple actions, you will feel your stress start to dissipate.
When we’re curious about our situation, rather than being bitter and casting blame, we are able to take the driver’s seat once again and gain control over our stress. Once we feel like we have a say, the negative effects of stress are minimized. We are more willing to take actions toward change and toward reaching our full potential.
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