Dealing Effectively with Stress

“For every time in stress, you need a recovering time in relaxation.” - Emmett Miller, MD

Blue sea and waves

Is stress taking over your life?

Do you frequently feel overwhelmed, because of the level of stress you encounter?  Do you sometimes feel as though you are losing control of your life, because of the multitasking required to accomplish all that you need to do?  Do you ever feel stuck, when you try to consider ways to reduce the stress in your life?  Are you able to see your reactions to stressful situations as separate from the events themselves?

Sorting out your answers to these questions may be the beginning of a more peaceful existence for you.  As long as you believe you are powerless to do anything about the stress in your life, you will continue to experience negative reactions to it.  Those reactions may even cause physical illness, in addition to the emotional and psychological distress you feel.  If you are struggling with the effects that stress is having on you, then you have likely also noticed its effects on your relationships, as well.

What is this thing called stress?

Stress has become an often used term in today’s world, meaning different things to different people.  Most people seem to use the term “stressed out” when they are feeling overwhelmed.  Many people use it to describe how other people or situations are “stressing them out”.  It is common to refer to difficult events or unpleasant interpersonal dynamics as “stressors”, if we are experiencing discomfort because of them.  When we are ready to get off the merry-go-round of never-ending stress, we usually need to first understand how we may be creating some of it ourselves by the choices we make.  Also, we will need to see how our reactions to the stressful situations that can’t be changed, are often causing us more distress than the stressors themselves.

What can you do about it?

Summer lavenderThe first step in getting a handle on stress is to mentally separate those things that can be changed from those that cannot, and to start taking steps to change those things that need to be adjusted.  It is critical in this process to recognize the ways in which you are increasing your stress level.  For many people, that means trying to keep too many “balls in the air” at the same time.  This is common for people who have difficulty in saying, “No”, or who believe that achievement is a measure of their worthiness.  For others, it may mean engaging in frequent worrying, or even trying to “keep up with the neighbors”.  For still others, it may mean remaining in a situation that is toxic and unhealthy for you.

Therapy can make a difference.

Even after identifying the choices you are making that are adding stress to your life, and your unhealthy reactions to life’s stressors, you may find yourself struggling to make the needed changes.  In therapy, people have the opportunity to not only identify what they may need to adjust, but to also come to terms with underlying issues that have been blocking them from taking action in the past.  Changing the way we react to the situations and people in our lives sounds much easier than it really is.  Often, people become discouraged and disappointed in themselves (adding more stress), when they become stuck and don’t move forward with actions, which they have determined to take.  Therapy sessions provide a place of support and guidance where discovery and renewal occur, and where self-confidence can begin to flourish.  Many people also find that a calming practice, such as Mindfulness Meditation, gives them much greater clarity to see the path ahead and a growing sense of peace that eases their resistance to change.