"It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it." – Hans Selye
Are you dealing with stress the wrong way?
Think about it. How do you react under stress? Think of the last time you were in a stressful situation; when nothing was going your way. You got into an ugly spat with your manager, your vehicle ran out of fuel, you had a pile of pending work to complete…
Your life was in utter chaos, and you were staring at the perfect ingredients for stress. How did you deal with it? Did you give the stress a ride home or did you let go of it? Studies indicate that your relationship with stress determines your relationship with your health. Associating yourself with stress has its consequences. So, learnt to get rid of stress.
People either hold on to stress or they let go of it. Dr David M. Almeida, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies categorises people into two categories –
The professor summarises Velcro people as displaying tendencies to adhere to their stressors. They allow themselves to become distressed and disturbed by circumstances, and remain irritable and angry even at the end of the day. They take the stress home.
Teflon people, according to him do not allow stressors to affect their lives. They deal with situations as they happen, without allowing them to affect their temperament. Like Teflon coated utensils, they let stressors slide off.
It is people who cling on to the stressors that end up with health issues. The lesson to be learnt here is that it does not pay to be a Velcro person. Yet, most of us, to some extent, is Velcro people. So, how do Velcro people espouse Teflon behaviour? It is possible to coach your brain to behave more like Teflon people. Here are a few tips to follow –
Appreciate goodnessAcknowledge and appreciate all the good that is there. And trust me, there always are things to be happy and thankful for.
First and foremost, know that it is not your fault that your brain overemphasises the bad and underplays the good. Our brains are wired that way; blame it on our survival mechanism that registers threats, so we can protect ourselves.
But, there are ways to work around this intuitive human behaviour. For starters learn to recognise the extent your brain is wired to make you go into defensive mode. Consciously avoid triggers that get you into that mood. Shun the negative and concentrate on the positive aspects of your day. You won't be able to ignore all the bad that seems to envelop your life, but do your best to not let it dampen your spirits.
If you are in the habit of replaying bad events over and over in your mind, stop for a moment and inject all the pleasant things that occurred during the day. Create a balance between the things that you think about, have a bit of the good and the bad. So, yes you had a heated argument with the manager, but don't let that be a reason for you to spend your entire day mulling over it. Instead, think of positive things that happened during the course of the day.
Sometimes life does throw challenges at us, and you cannot make the bad events go away, but you can stop them from stressing you out. When you feel bogged down and are stressed by the events of the day, stop and focus on the good things that also happened. Take your mind away from the ugly to the good.
Anchor to Teflon peopleFind an anchor, a Teflon person and emulate their example. Some people are unflappable. They are always calm and collected and seem unfazed by the events that surround them. Look for that one person who is cheery and sends out good vibes. There is always someone like that in the workplace. They are happy-go-lucky and take things lightly. They are the ones you should be associating yourself with.
It is not that they don't have stuff that bothers them; they do. They probably carry similar burdens, like you. Their life is probably as difficult as yours. But, they manage to blank out the bad part, and that's their secret of coping with stress. They are the Teflon people. They are optimistic and make lemonade when life gives them lemons.
Teflon people do not let worries and problems linger on. They do not hold on to grudges. They do not dwell on the uncomfortable attributes of life that spread negativity. Instead, they focus on the brighter side of life.
Everyday Teflon peopleThere are lessons to be learnt from ordinary people. News bulletins from the recent floods in Kerala highlight the dignified calmness the people of the state have maintained, even though they are facing trying times. Despite losing everything they manage to keep stress at bay. That is the spirit you must imbibe.
People have their own defence mechanisms to tackle stress. Some may meditate, others may go for a run, still, others spend time reading or listening to music. These people dole out advice to you, without uttering a word. Listen to them; go find something to do that soothes your tense nerves. Pick up a sport or find a hobby that fits your personality. Do something that can help you take your mind away from life's stressors.
Be gentle on yourselfStress is not always caused by another's actions. There are times when stress is of your own making. It can be an incidental product of your own critical inner voice that keeps recapping the events as they unfolded. It points out the mistakes that you made. "I should have done this… I should not have done that…I should have said this…" and more such.
Stop being self-critical and you will handle stress better. Reflect on the day's happenings to learn from them, and not so that you get all worked up. Then soothe your tension away by orienting yourself to do things that relax you.
You need to be able to control your mind. Practice taking life's peaks and valleys in your stride. It is life and you need to learn to handle the tough times as seamlessly as you do the good times.
Final wordsOften in life, we fail to appreciate the Teflon folks, the ones who handle tough situations with élan. They are masters at circumventing their Velcro tendencies and possess a proclivity for appreciating the good things.
You too can be like them, all you need is a little practice. The next time life knocks you down to your knees, don't agonise yourself in self-pity, instead be grateful for the things that are going well.
What is your secret to managing stress? Do you allow it to gnaw at you like a bad hangover, or do you steer away from it, cleverly avoiding it?
"It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it." – Hans Selye
Indeed a nice representation where the origin of a stressful situation has been dealt with lucidly. Even there are means how to come out from the excess stress that makes our lives troublesome with the constant repetition of such weird thoughts.
There are instances of people who can handle the stressful situation in a better way and they are definitely better than us in the ways they perceive a situation. Their analytical thoughts and their ways to counter the ugly events and to take steps to defuse the unwarranted situation are praiseworthy. This definitely calls for repetitive practice to implement the same.
The best way to counter the negative emotion would be to divert the mind with the chores or hobbies of their own likings so that one can take a break from the dreadful situation. A deep study of the lives of the great heroes tackling the difficult situations too would be helpful.
The inclusion of yoga and meditation may offer tremendous solace in managing the stressful events.
The Author started the article with - How do you manage stress? How do you react under stress? And later on, explained how stress should be managed in our day to day life. A good article, good read.
My question is – How does stress occur?
I agree that we need to be gentle with ourselves. We will drain out all the precious energy if we keep thinking why what and when. We have to learn to relax a little bit. Relaxation techniques are the best when it comes to dealing with stress. They help to get rid of stress and tension. Relaxation does not mean zoning out. Using television or social media to momentarily escape is not going to help us in any way. These are the distractions which may calm us down for a few minutes. Until we bravely deal with the root cause and help ourselves to get rid of it, we are never going to get rid of stress. Try to stimulate the relaxation response of the body. Lots of relaxation techniques are available that has proven to be effective in the treatment of stress. Some of them are yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation. These techniques increase the energy flow and bring remarkable improvement in the mood. They reduce everyday stress and as a result, overall improvement can be seen in the physical as well as mental well-being.
I would like to answer the above query. The member has asked-“How does stress occur?” The answer is stress is our own creation. Most of the people may not agree with me. Some of us may question that why we would create stress in our lives and make it difficult. The answer is that we create stress unknowingly. We are so much indulged in the day to day chores and happenings that we sometimes forget that self-control can be used to control the levels of stress and tension. Instead, we let ourselves get trapped in everything and this kind of free flow will raise the stress levels in our body. If we want we can get rid of it in no time. If we do not know that we are responsible for our own miseries, we can wander for years together in search of peace of mind and calmness.
What I feel is that we alone are responsible for bringing the stress to the fore. Sometimes stress is imposed on us by others by virtue of their closeness and our commitment towards them. If we don't plan our work and targets and just attempt them without proper reason and in an apt way, we are bound to feel the heat of stress. And if we fail to get out of the situation we feel suffocated. When we move with some close people, out of their affection and faith on us, they do delegate some tasks or jobs which may be easy on the face of it but difficult when it is attempted and that is called imposing of stress by others.