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Stress management has become something that we need to use as a survival mechanism. When it comes to the pressures of daily life, it can easily become overwhelming. We have so many responsibilities and things to remember that stress seems to become just a second nature to most of us. Some of us are able to manage it in healthy ways, while others are not quite as skilled in that area. Fortunately, stress is not a new phenomenon. While the demands of daily living have changed, the fact is that humans have been combatting stress and utilizing it for their survival for centuries. It is possible to escape the trials and tribulations of a stressful life. Instead of fixating on the negative, we can focus on the positive to create a much better situation for ourselves overall.
The methods that humans have come up with over the years to cope with stress are vast and numerous, but one thing is for certain. These are tried and true methods that manage to get the job done. If you are stressed out, you can train yourselves to function despite it just like our ancestors did so many years ago.
In this book, we will begin to explore different ways of looking at stress. We can begin to manage it better by acknowledging the power we have over ourselves and the outcomes we face. Sometimes, we are even able to release stress by accepting that some things are simply out of our control and to only put thoughts and energies into a subject if we know that we are able to influence the outcome in some way.
Stress can be one of the biggest things to hold us back. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we learn positive coping mechanisms for our stressors, then we can easily become unstoppable! Once we have control of our minds, then everything else should come with relative ease. Nothing is beyond our grasp!
Not only that, but it can be beneficial to see stress as a simple byproduct of doing something productive, rather than feeling that it is an overwhelming barrier or obstacle that is going to get in the way of our ability to be successful. If we are feeling the pressure, then we know we are doing something right.
However, feeling the pressure is not always a good thing. Especially when you don’t know how to turn it off. So the most important thing you are going to learn from this guide is how to manage your stress in a way that can help you to become the best person you can possibly be and create the lifestyle of your dreams without the added negativity! Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Perception is a huge part of communication. When we receive a message, our brains filter it so that we can receive the feedback from the other party. If that feedback is perceived as negative, then it can change the rest of our interaction with that party in ways that may easily be avoided. If that feedback is perceived as positive, then it can alter the rest of the communication with that party for the better. Sometimes, we may feel that someone else is being aggressive toward us when in reality, their intention is to merely assert themselves or their thoughts or beliefs without offending you. In other cases, it can be that we do not know how to assert ourselves without coming across as aggressive and confrontational. These types of provocative interactions can cause a lot of misunderstandings and, ultimately, a whole lot of stress. And this is for various reasons.
When we are not able to communicate our needs in a way that others can hear and respect, this can create a toxic environment for us. We are not able to thrive if we can’t voice the things that we need without starting fights. Maybe we begin to misunderstand others and assume that they don’t care about us because they are not receiving the proper feedback from us that they are violating our boundaries. Or perhaps we are coming off too strongly and hurting people’s feelings and being aggressive when we only really need to gently but firmly assert ourselves in a way that other people can hear and respect.
Nobody likes knowing that they are doing something wrong. They like it even less when they feel attacked for their mistakes. Most people will make an effort to treat you the way that you want to be treated if they are honorable enough to treat others with respect and kindness. But they are less likely to be considerate of your needs if you are communicating your expectations in an aggressive manner. Maybe you feel you need to be aggressive before the message will be received, but this is not always the case.
If you want to live in a stress-free environment, it is crucial to keep yourself in check when it comes to communication style. Learning the difference between assertive and aggressive communication styles is pertinent to this cause, and it is something you will benefit from long-term, for the rest of your life. And it will be a guaranteed way to improve your relationships with those around you.
So what is the difference between speaking assertively versus speaking aggressively? And keep in mind that some people have a difficult time receiving either. If they are being reprimanded in some way, they may still find you to be at fault because their defense mechanisms may be in high gear. It can be difficult to get through to people like this at times, but that doesn’t mean that you should go from being assertive to being aggressive, as this will only escalate the situation.
Assertive communication is respectful. You can speak your opinion to someone else while still being respectful of their opinions as well. You can ask them not to behave a certain way toward you and establish healthy boundaries without attempting to insult them for their behavior. You are simply letting them know that it isn’t something you accept or want in your life.
Aggressive communication is far more damaging. Aggressive speakers may prefer to attack others for not believing the same way they do and do not show a lot of respect toward others for having differing opinions or tastes. If you offend an aggressive speaker, whether on accident or on purpose, they are more likely to react with hostility and escalate a situation rather than by being willing to view the situation objectively and seek out solutions for the issue at hand.
Aggressive communication is a step backward. And the key ingredient in the recipe for assertive communication is respect. Be respectful even if you disagree. If you find yourself getting angry about something, do your best to healthily remove yourself from the situation and establish your boundaries in that way.
It can be quite challenging for some of us to train ourselves to be assertive before we are aggressive, and that is okay. Don’t give yourself a hard time about it or beat yourself up for your mistakes. Instead, see the ways that you can improve and always be honest with yourself about what you can and should be doing better. Then take the steps and time needed to improve.
It is also important to be able to identify aggressive speakers in your life so that you will know not to give them any ammunition that they can use to escalate a situation and cause you needless stress. If someone feels like being combative and disrespectful, you do not have to accept it. You can quietly and calmly make your boundaries known, with respect, and then do your best to remove yourself from the situation.
If this type of provocation is a constant thing, it may serve your life better to remove yourself from the source of the stress entirely. Some people do not want to improve themselves and find no fault in their styles of communication. They think that they have every right to plow down other people because they believe that they are right and there is no way around it. Often time, this can be a toxic behavior and something that you should do everything in your power to avoid. Limit your interactions with toxic people, especially when they cannot take accountability for their own actions and lash out with aggression when you are doing your best to be as respectful as possible.
Once you are able to do this, coping with stressful situations will be that much easier!
One of the most important things you can do to reduce stress is to learn how to redirect your thoughts and feelings. When you find yourself getting overwhelmed by the triggering situations that you can face in day to day life, redirection is crucial in maintaining your peace of mind. And it is something that everyone can do.
To begin, you have to become mindful of the things that you are allowing yourself to think. Many of us have an issue with rumination; meaning that we are often prone to fixating on negative thoughts and emotions over positive thoughts and feelings. We read too deeply into negative events and are easily consumed and overwhelmed by them.
While it can be beneficial to spend a healthy amount of time reflecting on our lives, there is a slippery slope that can be difficult to get out of once we are there. We can take power away from ourselves by only considering the negative side of the coin and not allowing ourselves a break to think of positive things that can help us find solutions to the problems that we are ruminating on.
Fortunately, there is a great and scientific way to help us to focus more on the positive things and interrupt the negative thought spirals that can leave us feeling stressed out and sometimes even depressed.
Redirection is an amazing tool for anybody who wants to be a more positive person. To begin with, it will take some practice in mindfulness. You are going to need to be fully aware of the moment you begin slipping into a negative thought pattern. Without the self awareness necessary to identify your negative thoughts, redirection will be quite a struggle. But don’t worry. Even if it is difficult to identify at first, over time you will become more aware of the negative patterns and intercept then more easily.
Once you have achieved the ability to identify your negative thoughts and feelings, you can begin to redirect them to other, more positive things. It can feel a little bit challenging at first. Especially if you aren’t used to trying to change your train of thought. However, it is very possible to go from stressful, negative thinking to positive, productive thinking with just a little bit of practice and time. Some mindfulness techniques that may be useful include meditation and breathing exercises. Taking time out of your day to really stop and reflect on the events that have occurred and how you have handled them, being honest with yourself about whether or not you responded with an appropriate emotion that you can be proud of or if you have reactions that could use some work. These are very important.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed then try to remember to take a time out and breathe. Don’t let these emotions overwhelm and consume you. You are stronger than they are and you will always have the capacity to learn from reflection. Once you have managed to identify when you are having an emotional reaction to something, it will be that much easier to put into practice the strategy of redirecting your attention to better things.
It will help to have an arsenal at hand already of events and things that are the opposite of stressful. Think about things that make you happy and memories that make you laugh and smile. Consider things that bring you peace, even if it just as simple as the joys of nature surrounding you on an afternoon walk. Do not be ashamed of the things that bring you joy. Rather, learn how to take comfort in them when things begin to feel stressful and overwhelming.
This is one of the truest ways to maintaining a stress free life. Focus on your goals and meet challenges optimistically. Consider all of the times you were able to follow through on a goal and do something worthwhile, something you were proud of. Remember your successes and allow them to build up your confidence. When you are stressing out about failure, remember you are not always failing at everything. In fact, there are plenty of things you have done well and you will do well again, even if this particular situation is taking longer than usual for you to do well with.
It is important to have patience with yourself and forgive yourself for negative events that have occurred, which is something we will talk more about in a later chapter. In the meantime, work on remembering that you are capable of changing the course your mind has taken. You do not have to stay stuck dwelling in negativity. You have the power to remain positive, and that is always what you should try and choose to do.
It is far easier to avoid being overwhelmed by stress if you are doing everything you can to maintain your physical health. Physical and mental health are often closely related. When we are feeling sick and stressed out, this can sometimes be because we are deficient in certain vitamins or because we are not doing everything we can to stay on top of our physical health and well-being.
Not only that, but staying on top of a strong health and fitness regimen can promote chemical changes in your body that make it physically easier to maintain a better outlook on life overall. when your brain is surging with the rewarding chemicals of exercise and pride in your ability to take charge and care for yourself in ways you may not have been actively doing before, you will find it far easier to maintain a better mood.
The body requires maintenance just like the rest of us. In fact, it is arguably one of the most important things that we can maintain. If we ignore the needs of the body, we are prone to illness. Not only that, bt if we are not thinking ahead we may find that our choices or lack of motivation will catch up to us later, when it is more important than ever to be able to maintain our independence.
Consider the senior citizens. So many of them had good diets and did regular exercise. Some of them are still sharp as tacks and seem like nothing can bring them down. They cultivated good habits and remained active throughout the course of their lives. However, there are some who are not as fortunate. They did not cultivate good habits or remain active. They led sedentary lifestyles that ultimately made them less able to take care of themselves and now they have to rely on the good will of others. They have gone from independent to dependent and some of them are even to the point where their awareness of their surroundings simply is lost.
Now, not all diseases related to age are preventable. However, much of the risk can be eliminated by taking care of ourselves in the present moment. We have to make sure our bodies are getting proper nutrition. We have to make sure they are moving regularly so that they don’t end up failing us in the future when we need them the most. The phrase “use it or lose it” has never been more important. Use your body and make sure that you are doing whatever is possible to maintain its health and wellbeing. This isn’t only important for your future, but for your present as well. Stress can be a huge factor in many untimely deaths. To take care of yourself physically and emotionally means to take accountability for the ways your body needs you front and center, giving it what it needs. Nobody else will. This is fully your responsibility. And while that may seem stressful, the good news here is that if you do it, your body will reward you with a better mood. Exercise will give you endorphins and dopamine and serotonin, all the happy and feel-good chemicals that your body needs to stay balanced in the world when things seem like they are going to fall apart.