Coping Skills For Stress Management

By September 6, 2012 Philosophy 18 Comments

Having spent the last 15 years working in the corporate world and running my own business, there’s one thing that I see a lot of – and that’s STRESS.

Wherever you turn these days, everyone seems to be stressed.

What is STRESS and what does it actually mean to be stressed?

My definition of stress is pretty easy to understand – it’s simply tension and strain.

In terms of how it affects us as humans, stress causes us to experience ‘mental, emotional or physical tension.

Surprisingly, it can be caused by both positive or negative experiences.  Put another way, it is simply our body’s way of responding to demands.  When we experience stress our bodies release chemicals into our blood stream, which increases our energy and strength.

Back when we were hunters and gatherers, stress kept us alive by ensuring we avoided coming into contact with ferocious, human eating animals.  However, in today’s world, 9 times out of 10, stress is a response to something emotional rather than physical.

If it’s natural, why both trying to reduce stress?

What makes coping with this kind of stress difficult, is that there is generally no outlet for  emotionally charged stress.  If we’re unable to process emotionally charged stress, there’s a risk of getting so wound up we eventually go POP!

Learning some simple coping skills for stress management is therefore incredibly important (and sadly not taught that often).

“Stress is a choice”

If you accept that stress is a choice, you can choose to allow a situation to stress you, or you can simply “let it go”.

The moment I realized this, I started making conscious decisions to let things go instead of allowing them to make me “POP”.

It’s about empowering yourself to control the motion of energy. I really like the saying that “E-motion” stands for “energy in motion”.
The trick is therefore to let the energy go – release it just like a valve releases pressure in a tank.

‘What stress is to me, is someone else’s bliss’

Two very different articles I read on the same day highlighted this idea for me.  The first was about a Chinese farmer who was celebrating because for the first time in 10 years, he had enough rice stored to see his family through the winter.

The second was about a banker in New York who committed suicide because his net worth dropped from $8 million to $1 million.

Isn’t it crazy how much we can worry about little things?

I have also learned that there is something deeper going on and we can actually carry stress for weeks and even years.

Some people will even go as far as saying that you can experience stress when you are born and carry it around with you your entire life.  They believe that 1 in 4 children are born under a high level of stress.  This causes them to experience increased instances of anxiety and tension as an adult.  Without learning how to cope with stress, this just snowballs and snowballs with more and more pressure being placed on their central nervous system.  Eventually the pressure and stress will manifest itself as some form of pain, and if left untreated for years and years, it may even evolve into cancer.


THE GOOD NEWS IS STRESS CAN BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED

3 Simple Stress Management Strategies

1.  Relax your central nervous system to cope with stress

Stress, worry and anxiety triggers our brain to think more.

Example:
See if you can imagine a monkey carrying a bag of water (maybe the type of bag that carries a gold fish) and that monkey is jumping from tree to tree and the water is bouncing all over the place.

This represents the mind of a stressed person.

It’s actually a never-ending cycle – the brain spins and this creates more tension and so on.  The key to stopping this is BREAKING THE CYCLE.

5 Techniques For Breaking The Stress Cycle

  • Meditation …  I personally recommend transcendental meditation or “TM”. I do it twice a day and for me,  it’s the number one strategy to keep stress away.  I will go as far as saying TM has all but eliminated stress and anxiety from my life.
  • Spend time in nature …  Spending time in the bush or by the sea is incredibly relaxing.  My advice is spend at least half a day every month.  Remember – if it’s not in your calendar you won’t do it – so put it into your calendar now.
  • Ayurveda …  If you want some deep stress removal, then learn more about Ayurveda.  I will do another blog just on this soon because it’s amazing.
  • Breathing …  If you stopped right now and took 10 deep breaths, you will find that this will slow you down and relax that central nervous system.   Yoga also helps enormously with this.

2.  Practice resilience to help you cope with stress

Resilience is described as the power or ability to return to the original form, position, after being bent, compressed or stretched.  It’s the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like.   We need some discipline to practice resilience, and just like going to a gym – we start to form the resilience muscle.  There are many different ways to build resilience, but here are two that I practice:

 

  • Regularly look for the good in your life.
    Try this – set an alarm on your clock to go off every 1 hour.  When it goes off, stop what you are doing and look around you to find things that you are grateful for.  They are EVERYWHERE.  You might see a bird, or a tree that you can find gratitude in.  You might see a road, and find gratitude in the fact that we are so lucky to have roads, or you might even look at a traffic light and be grateful that they are there to help with traffic flow.  Instead of complaining about there being a lot of traffic on the road, get excited that your car is in a place with a lot of energy and how lucky you are to have a car!  If you can practice seeing the good every hour, this will substantially allow you to cope with stress.  Remember – it’s easier seeing the thing we don’t like instead of the thing we are grateful for
  • Exercise.  For me it’s 1 hour a day – 6 days per week.  And at least half of this outdoors.  I am not going to write too much about exercise as I am sure you have been told about it thousands of times, but it will build resilience enormously in your life.

3.  Put life into perspective to help you cope with stress

The boy stopped complaining about having a good pair of shoes when he met another boy without feet

If you are feeling a bit stressed at the moment, just watch The Miniature Earth YouTube Video – (would love to hear your comments below by the way about this video).

I will often just stop and remind myself that life is amazingly short, and when I think of the size of the universe I realize just how small I am. This makes me think, “what gives me the right to complain or stress about this current situation?”

(It’s also worth checking out the short “Earth In Perspective” video as well)


What You Focus On Gets Bigger

Finally, please remember that what you focus on gets bigger.

If you are focusing on your stress and telling your friends and family how stressed you are, you are just going to get more of it.

And if you don’t choose to manage your stress for your own benefit, then think about doing it for the benefit of the people around you. It is unpleasant to be around a stressed person.  They can be moody and cold.

By practicing the techniques above, you are actually giving to others as well as the receiving the obvious benefits for yourself.  And when you give to others, you also receive so it ALWAYS comes back to you.

I would love to read your comments below, especially any other ideas you have for coping with stress.

 

 

 

About Andrew Roberts

Andrew is well known as one of Australia’s leading business mentors, is a Strategic Business specialist, and has been known to work his own magic with a host of companies featured in various Top 100 BRW lists. Andrew has gone from running one of the largest business coaching companies in Australia to focusing on specialists and leaders of various industries.

  • Bruce

    Wow!! That email could not have come to me at a better time. Andrew, thank you for demystifying this ‘thing’ we call stress and providing people with simple, yet highly effective, tools to overcome stress. Applying these techniques this morning, it literally feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.

  • Heather

    Dear Andrew,

    THANK YOU! After completing an arduous essay for uni last week, I was feeling deflated to say the least. All the focus that helps me get through the ‘writing to a deadline’ process, had left and I was bordering on depression. I hadn’t been to aerobics for two weeks (I usually go 4 times a week) and I had not done my morning Yoga ritual for a fortnight either… I had even started snapping at my husband and children – I had forgotten how to see and experience the bright side of life.

    After watching ‘Earth in Perspective’ and ‘The Miniature Earth’ the realisation hit me right between the eyes that I had been wallowing in self centred pity, when so many others in the world have so many more pressing concerns. Thank you so much for posting this blog. It reached me on such a level that it will stay with me for a long time to come, and your email came just at the right time for me 🙂 I feel confident now that I can start appreciating the positives again.

    I would like to add to your suggestions that effective time management also helps a great deal with stress reduction. At the moment I am three weeks behind with my course work, due to spending so much energy on my essay. If I had managed my time better, I would not be worrying so much about it now. But… I will be taking your advice and going outside regularly for a break, feeling the grass under my bare feet and the sunshine on my face, then heading back inside for an hour of hard work.

    Thanks once again for the attitude adjustment, I appreciate (and feel immense gratitude for) you sharing your perspective, and I now choose not to allow stress to make me ‘pop’.

    • Thank you for this reply Heather – and you are so right with effective time management. I am pleased you enjoyed the miniature earth and earth is perspective videos.

  • Sharon Parsons

    Great video with down to earth real advice that I can apply right now. Thank you for another amazing video Andrew.

  • Mick

    Many thanks Andrew,
    Some great messages in that session. We truly have so much to be grateful for.

  • robyn

    Many thanks Andrew, I love reading your blogs…when things are tough for myself I say out loud ” nothing lasts for ever and nothing stays the same, this situation will be just a memory this time next week” it works for me…

    • Thanks for sharing Robyn. Your phrase is so true.

  • Ingrid Bothma

    Thank you So much, Andrew, your video and writing both on stress and what to do about is simply excellent! Yes we need to see how small we are and how great our GOD is! We also need to focus on being grateful for so much around us! From South Africa, I have started to implement the breathing and it is amazing how it helps already. Also new for me was the fact, that we can bring stress with us already at birth! It explained a lot about where I come from! A family what went through the war and a mother with tremendous stress already before I was born. I have been thinking often, there is so much more stress on me, compared to others! Not wanting to say: hey I have more to cope with, but knowing, what they have in a year I would have in a month! Wow! Your work is a blessing to me! Thank you! But also when I look around me, outside my window the beautiful bottlebrush tree, my sleeping dog in her basket and my cat outside enjoying the outing. To see the good everywhere and simply thank GOD for everything! Go for more, this is so needed! Jngrid.

    • Thanks for sharing Ingrid.

  • Promita

    So inspiring! We fret about our regular work and life problems when there are bigger problems in the world… Your blogs make so much sense and are so apt. Thank you!

  • Susan Rennie Ashton

    I was deleting my junk mail and found your email. Thank goodness I did. You definitely speak the truth about stress! I am so tired of getting up on my day off with no true reason to feel stressed, but yet my heart is racing along with my thoughts. I can’t remember the last time I felt truly relaxed. I have a very stressful job and sometimes think it’s the only thing in my life that keeps me going. This is so sad, I know. I certainly have events from my past that I have not found a way to deal with properly. I just don’t know how so they just linger like barnacles, you know? I will be listening to all your videos and following your excellent advice. Everything you said in your first video makes perfect sense to me. I often think about the changes man has gone through since the hunter/gatherer stage and know in my heart that we all need to learn how to adapt to this new fast paced, very stressful busy world we live in now. It’s so different from back then. I think hobbies can really reduce stress. For me, gardening and crafts definitely reduce my stress and increase my pleasure on a daily basis, but I still need to do more work. Thank you so very much for this information. I will be taking full advantage of your book and videos.

    God bless,
    Susan

    • thanks for sharing Susan – yes – its so true that doing hobbies we love keep us grounded and reduce stress. Great advice

  • Susan Rennie Ashton

    I have been thinking and would like to add cooking and music to my list of stress relievers. 🙂 When I consider what I have listed as my stress relievers I see how basic they really are. Gardening, Sewing, Cooking and Music, all basic needs in the life of humans, right? So it seems to me that getting back to the basics may be one key to relieving a lot of stress.

  • Karen Anderson

    Thank you Andrew. I’d like to add a further anecdote…a friend at work once told me that if you can control it…why worry about it? If you can’t control it, why worry about it? So that’s helped me…and another friend stopped me coming out of work one day with a simple question…if I woke up tomorrow with only the things I am grateful for…what would I wake up with?

    • Thank you so much for sharing Karen – brilliant

  • Tina

    Great stuff Andrew! What’s the greatest is when you start applying this sort of thinking and you say to yourself okay let me use only one ‘stressful’ situation and apply it. When you find the magic in this one situation it becomes so much easier to apply it to the next one. I think we tend to look at all the stresses and we see mountains and then it is just too overwhelming to apply this sort of thinking. Funny, I had one such situation yesterday where I completely freaked out before the time (had a meeting with someone which I ‘dreaded’). I decided to let it go (the universe also helped me because I asked for help and I was given a sign). So the meeting turned out pretty well. Also, you are talking about resilience…this is sooo powerful. Took my kids to school and realised that the car had a flat tyre. I didn’t freak out ( I have learned now that certain things happen (even if they seem to be negative) for valid reasons). This flat tyre situation obviously led to something else (also for a valid reason) which I’m not so sure why at the moment but will probably at a later stage. Funny, later on I ‘said’ to the universe ‘Okay, whatever the reason was, it’s all done now, everything happened…so please fix the tyre now…lol’

    • This is so true Tina. I was reading an article about the 60 odd people who for some reason or another (many from stories like you explain above) couldn’t get to work at the trade centre on September 11th. just ask them if they stress about inconveniences anymore.

      • Tina

        Wow! That must be such an amazing article Andrew.

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