React Less, 'Think' More - Tips for Dealing with Stressful Situations
How many times have you been in a situation where you can literally feel your blood pressure rising as if it were the burning wick of an explosive?
We admire those who sit calm and keep their composure ALL THE TIME, often wondering how they do it. The answer is not straight forward as many variables come into play, including genetics. No matter what your situation is, we all have emotions and can be driven to say or do things we do not truly mean. There are techniques you can employ to lessen the chances of reacting on emotion. Talking from personal experience, avoiding an emotional reaction takes work and requires a level of self awareness you never knew you had. Some of us know this will be a lifelong exercise but the payoff is significant and may even lead to a happier life! In fact, studies have shown the more you do to reduce small stressors in life, the higher chance of being happy. Here are a few tips to keep your composure during a stressful situation in everyday life. These situations might include work, confrontations with family or even interactions with your own husband or wife.
Minimize or Eliminate Non-verbal Body Language
In the moment, any stressful situation feels like the end of the world. Most times, the reality is nowhere close to the end of the world - especially when no one is diving [MD's out there, you can take these tips with a grain of salt]. When someone says something that strikes a nerve, it might [and usually does] trigger a response in the form of body language if you aren't careful. Humans are incredibly intelligent - some may take advantage of your frustration and vulnerability either consciously or subconsciously. Remind yourself yourself to sit still, avoiding anything different from 'normal' behavior. If your 'normal' is 'abnormal', then I don't know what to tell you.
Take a Deep Breathe
Taking a deep breathe seems to always be the go-to advice when discussing the topic of stress. Trust me, it is good advice - it works! Take a deep breathe when you feel that wick start to burn - count to 10 and think about the the most appropriate action. Most times you will chose not to say anything at all.
Limit the "Battles"
Some of the first advice we received when we get married is to "lighten-up" and "let things go". Although cliché, it is accurate advise. There is nothing wrong with showing your passion and standing by your beliefs but it is important to choose the "battles" worth fighting. This seems violent and I suppose it could be but I certainly hope that is not frequently the case. If it is, read this post again and practice these tips. Many folks learn too late in their life that trying to win every battle doesn't have much value in the long-run. Regardless of what is said in a stressful situation, it rarely changes the outcome and can cement the very things you didn't want in the first place (not worth tarnishing your reputation over in most cases). Once you feel the stress levels rising, take a deep breathe and consciously decide if your commentary is truly necessary. Often times, it is not and will only come off as negative.
Avoid reacting and take time to think when you feel overwhelmed with stress - it will reduce the perceived negativity and allow you to choose the battles actually worth spending energy on. Make your actions speak louder than words, letting others around you fight the battles you wish not to pursue. After all, no one ever 100% correct so be humble, think, and be happy!