What are stressors?
Stressors are the different circumstances in your life that make you feel pressured, fatigued, angry, etc. Stressors are unique for each individual. The things that cause you extreme stress may not be stressful at all to the person who lives next door.
Stressors are unique to each of us because our minds are responsible for determining whether a circumstance or occurrence is stressful or not.
The modern stress model indicates that actual, physiological stress is actually the final occurrence in a long chain of interrelated events:
1. Person first experiences a circumstance or event.
2. Person perceives the experience as stressful.
3. Negative emotions are triggered by the experience.
4. Negative emotional arousal triggers psychological tension.
5.Psychological tension triggers physiological/systemic stress response.
How can you manage the stressors in your life?
We each have our own ways of dealing with stress.
If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to function because almost every aspect of modern life can be deemed as stressful. We also have to contend with continuous challenges that we encounter in daily life.
Some people seem to have a natural talent for managing stress. However, these people are few and far in between. The majority of people around the world generally have a lot of difficulty managing the stress in their lives.
The following guidelines will help you manage your stressors so you can have happier, more relaxed and more productive days ahead of you:
1. Remember That You Are In Control
How much control do you have over your life?
This is the most important step in stress management. You have to remember that the most powerful person in your life is you. You always have the choice to be in control of what you feel and how you experience life itself.
Do you remember the last time that you were extremely stressed because someone didn’t do what he/she was supposed to do? You may have said something like “I hate ________! He stresses me to death all the time! I’m so angry right now!”
At that exact point in time, you weren’t only angry and stressed – you also relinquished control of the situation to someone else. Why? You allowed the other person’s actions to anger and stress you.
Why are some events more stressful than others?
Your mind determines which circumstances and situations are stressful. This is the main reason why we have unique “stressor sets” and the levels of stress we experience on a daily basis are unique to our situation in life.
Your mind has to process events and experiences before they can be perceived as stressors. That’s’ why when you feel stressed by something, you are consciously allowing that circumstance to get the best of you.
To regain control of any situation, you must actively resort to thoughts and behaviors that will not trigger stress.
This can be difficult at first but as you continue managing you’re your stress response in different circumstances, you will soon find out that you always have a choice and you don’t have to be stressed all the time.
Should you just ignore your stressors?
Many of life’s common stressors cannot be ignored with consequences.
For example, if your kids are loud and boisterous and they stress you almost every day, you can’t resort to ignoring them because they still need your attention and care.
However, you also have to change your common responses when you feel stressed because of your kids’ behavior. It’s not fair for a person to go through life experiencing toxic levels of stress every day.
So the next time that you feel angry because your kids’ noise is bothering you, respond more constructively by telling your kids to keep it down or by letting them play in another part of the house.
2. Commit to Stress Management
How can you make a commitment to beat stress?
People who have been suffering from extreme levels of stress for many years often feel that stress is part of their lives and “it’s impossible” not to have stress.
This is a completely false notion, as illustrated by the modern stress model. If a person is chronically stressed, it’s because he chooses to let stressful situations get the upper hand.
Can a person unknowingly commit to becoming stressed?
In a way, a stressed person can unconsciously commit himself to responding to different situations by being stressed all the time. If you feel that this was the case for you then it’s time to make a new commitment to yourself: you will now commit to managing and stopping stress whenever possible.
Chronic stress can easily make a person very ill so it is essential that you make this commitment today; not tomorrow, not next month but right at this moment.
Make a commitment that you will no longer allow stressful situations to dominate your waking hours so you can lead a more fruitful and relaxed life.
Commit to the idea that you are 100% in control of your actions, thoughts and emotions and you can change how you respond to stressful events at all times.
To keep yourself motivated with this new commitment, I recommend that you reward yourself every time that you make a conscious effort to manage your stress
Small, consistent rewards are much more effective in motivating you to move forward with this commitment than large rewards.
To make this new commitment official, make a stress management contract with yourself:
I, __________________, have now realized the harmful effects of stress on my body and mind and no longer want stress to continue in my life. I will now make a conscious effort to change my thoughts and behaviors when I encounter different stressors.
If I have accomplished a significant level of stress management by (date), I will reward myself with the following: ________________, _____________, _______________, ________________.
In the event that I did not consciously take the time to manage stress and I reverted to my old stressful habits, I agree to deprive myself of the following: ________________, ________________ and ____________________.
3. Identify and Gauge Stressors In Your Life
After making a commitment to manage your stress regularly from now, it’s time to determine which circumstances and experiences cause you least amount of stress and which ones really push you into the “stress zone”.
Some situations cause more stress than others so it would be best to compare the general level of stress that you experience with each one.
Create a list of known stressors in your life and grade each on based on the stress scale below:
1 – Somewhat stressful
2 – Mildly stressful
3 – Stressful
4 – Very stressful
5 – Extremely stressful
When you’re done writing and grading your list of stressors, focus on managing the items marked with 5’s and 4’s first, before moving on to stressors that are marked with 3’s, 2’s and 1’s.
You can manage stressors by:
1. Changing your response to the stressor.
2. Removing the stressor from your life.
3. Changing the stressor so it causes less stress.
4. Removing yourself from an environment that stresses you.