It can be hard to step back when you are in the middle of a ‘moment’ and it may seem impossible to stop feeling stressed, but how can you learn to control these feelings and put things into perspective?
The first port of call is a simple one: just step back and take a few deep breaths. If you are able to physically remove yourself from the situation, do if you think it will help. Otherwise, simply take a few deep breaths and concentrate on the sensations in your body as you do so. Breathing calmly is one of the quickest ways to re-centre and destress.
How would you advise a friend in the same situation?
When you are in the thick of things it can be hard to get perspective on the situation, so one of the tools I suggest to my clients is thinking how they would advise a friend in the same situation. Often the advice we give to others is more supportive and rational than we would give to ourselves. Remind yourself to be supportive not only to others, but to yourself too.
When something bad happens or you think it’s going to, do you automatically jump to the worst possible outcome? This is catastrophising. When you feel your thoughts jumping from one conclusion to another, try and reason with yourself. What evidence do you have that this is likely, or even possible?
Challenging these irrational thoughts can be tricky to start with, but practice will make it more natural. Ask yourself what is the worst that could actually happen?
Do something you enjoy
Even if you are unable to do this immediately, do make time for activities that reduce your stress levels. This could be seeing friends, doing some exercise, reading a book, cooking a meal – whatever helps you. Building your resilience reservoir is key to seeing you through these difficult moments.
Ultimately, you will never get the time back that you have spent stressed. Ask yourself if being stressed or anxious has affected the outcome of the situation? Often the outcome would have been the same whether you have been stressed or not, so how about you give yourself a break and stop worrying. Concentrate on what is in your control and you can change, rather than a long list of ‘what ifs’.
Remember too that stress can be a positive thing as it can prepare our mind and body to get through the task ahead of us. Try and differentiate between positive stress and unhelpful, negative stress.
Building resilience is something that needs to be a regular practice. The fuller your resilience reservoir is, the more resources you will have at your fingertips to help you in difficult times.
Next week’s post will be about ways to build your resilience reservoir.
I'm a Personal Coach who loves finding out about what makes people tick and helping them to make the changes necessary to get to where they want to go.