Stress Management: You can do it too!
| Daniel Anandaraj Garnipudi | - @dodosamuel
The past couple of weeks have been a somewhat stressful with incredible deals having to be delivered at work. Of course, there have been stress-related outbursts. Every outburst turned out to be related to some other factor and the reason for the outburst was just a culmination of, perhaps, many small things which added to my stress.
Stress, if not managed correctly, can lead to unwanted pressures. And such pressures, like slowly growing pimples, will get bigger and bigger till they explode.
I am not talking about “chronic” stress that could lead to depressions, but rather what is termed as “acute” stress – stress related to pressures of the recent past or near future and — importantly — the present. A review that perhaps didn’t go as well as you would have liked, a big event coming up in your life, or even being late to work due to circumstances that could have been controlled but weren’t. Lots of factors can add to your stress.
So, how does one handle it?
One of the key things to note about stress is that it need not always be negative. An exhilarating run or a bike ride if you love it, also cause positive stress that is exciting. Similarly, the thrill of planning a successful event like a conference or a wedding, taking a “good loan” to buy a house knowing you will be paying EMIs to acquire an asset, preparing to make a presentation that is going to land you some hot business — these are all situations which involve stress, but such stress is motivational and can be channelled for positive outcomes.
I have an approach to handling stress and try to practice what I preach when required. Of course, this does not always work, but at least it’s a start.
The first step in stress management is recognising and accepting the fact that you are stressed. To many of us (me included), this is very difficult to do. Why? Because we think we are super-people! We think we are beyond stress. We think, “If others can manage this, why can’t I?
And there lies the problem. Each of us is unique in every which way you can think of. What may be stressful to one person need not be so for another. This is because stress is not just related to one area – like work, or family, or whatever, in isolation. It is a cumulation of many factors that encompasses the self, and spill over into all the other relationships we have – at work and home, with family and friends, and most importantly, with yourself.
Ok, so once you have recognised you have negative stress, what next?
First, take some time out to try and identify the factors that are causing you stress. I make a list of all the factors that influence my stress levels. Remember that these have to include all factors that are causing the stress and not just those specific to say, work, for example. If you have issues outside of work, first list them all down.
Now that you have listed out all that you are stressed about and the factors that are causing these stresses, take some time to read through the list a couple of times. This has two outcomes:
A. You add the stress-causing factors that you might have forgotten the first time around.
B. You look at some of what you have listed and realise/decide they don’t have to be on the list and you may be able to handle them easily enough.
Look at each of the points on your list and classify them into distinct stress areas. Some examples would be:
- Personal — where you have to find a solution yourself
- Work — which could mean you could seek out your colleagues to help you through
- Family — where you need to work with your own family members to try and resolve the issue.
Now that your list is ready, spend time going through it to try and identify the levels of stress that each factor is causing you. Some items may give you a lot of stress and these have to be handled in a different way than others.
I, typically, use “High”, “Medium” and “Low” to identify the points that have quick fixes and those that need a bit of work and, perhaps, even external help.
This is the most critical part of the process. What are you going to do about the stresses and stressors on your list?
A quick approach is to identify which of these can be handled very easily. Hit the low-lying stuff, one issue at a time. You know what they are because you would have classified them as — perhaps — “Personal” and “Low”. In this case, you can just reason it out in your own mind to figure out how to solve the issue.
Most times than not, you will realise that a lot of these negative stresses just need you to accept they exist and work on a solution. Focus on the ones that can easily be fixed so that you can be relieved of them. Some may be really quick and can be solved quite easily. But unless you know and accept they exist, they will still be there at the back of your head, constantly adding to your stress.
Some may require long-term actions – such as setting a financial goal and working towards it. That is not going to be sorted in a day, but remember you have to walk before you run.
Make an action plan for the big ticket items.
- What are the steps you will take?
- What are the impacts of those steps?
- Do you need help from someone else?
If you do need help from someone, ask! There’s no harm in asking at all. Many of us have been in similar situations and will be happy to help in some way or the other. Speak to someone else – a spouse, a soul mate, a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a family member – someone you trust. Ask for advice. But always remember – advice is free; it’s up to you to take it or not.
Hopefully, the above points would help you to realise that stress is not something to worry about. It’s natural, it’s part of life. How we deal with it is what is important.
The easiest way to overcome stress, a quick fix to get yourself back to a saner frame of mind is to take a break, do something you love, something that will help you forget your stresses for a while. Something that will make you smile, something as simple as reading a book, watching a movie with friends or family, or shopping(!), eating your favourite food or just sleeping!
Take that break and come back refreshed and renewed to attack your stress plans.
Daniel is our Chief Operating Officer and a true-blue biking aficionado. With a background of over seventeen years’ experience, he runs a tight ship here at Influx, ensuring that we deliver projects on time, in scope, and of exceptional quality. That’s why we have happy and satisfied clients.