Three Keys to Transforming Stress

Stress is something we all deal with to varying degrees, no matter what our job status. It's become a global problem, and it's on the rise. Many stress-relief programs focus on things like improving our diet, exercising, smoking cessation, deep breathing and getting plenty of rest. Although all of these things can be helpful, it often requires other approaches to get to the root of the problem and transform stress into productive energy.

Stress researchers have determined that it's our response to external events, not the events themselves, that cause our stress. To effectively deal with stress, we need to learn how to change our mental and emotional responses to external events.

Three Keys to Advanced Stress Management

  • Take Out the Significance: External events like job pressure, relationships, money issues and even the morning commute are all things that can easily trigger a stressful response. However, the degree of stress they cause is directly related to the amount of significance we give them. When you find yourself stressing over something, step back and tell yourself to take out the significance. Try not to keep piling on the mental and emotional energy to the issue, as that will only make things worse. Try to find a balanced perception about whatever has triggered your stress. Ask yourself, "Is this really such a big deal?" Reducing your energy investment in your unpleasant perception of external events -- by reminding yourself to take out the significance -- is a great way to reduce your stress levels.

  • Stop the Blame Game: When we are confronted with a stressful situation, the natural tendency is to blame someone or something, thinking, "They're stressing me out!" "This job is driving me crazy" or "I hate it when they do that." Blaming others for our own stressful reactions only adds fuel to the fire. It gives us an assumed right to keep getting more and more stressed. When you find yourself blaming others for your stress, try instead to take responsibility for your own mental and emotional reactions. By taking responsibility for how you are feeling and reacting, you take back your power, which feels good. You gain control, and in doing so, you are transforming stress into a new ability to remain balanced, calm and self-secure.

  • Find Something to Appreciate: When stress has you in its grip, one of the most effective things you can do is to replace it with a feeling of appreciation. Stress narrows our view of others, ourselves and of life. Appreciation acts like a wide-angle lens on a camera. It expands our perception and opens the door to new possibilities and a more balanced perspective about whatever has caused you to feel stressed. When you find yourself stressing out, stop just for a minute and find something to appreciate. Think about the good things about your life and appreciate them -- your friends, family, successes you've had, enjoyable events you have coming up and so on. As you begin to appreciate, you'll notice your stress level start to decrease. Stress can't own you when you're seeing life through the eyes of appreciation.

In summary, when you find yourself stressed, try to reduce the significance you are adding to your perception of the event that triggered it. Take control by assuming responsibility for your own reactions instead of blaming. Step back and find something to appreciate to help shift into a more balanced, comprehensive view. Applying any or all of these three keys is not always easy, especially when you are feeling highly stressed. However, with a little effort, you'll find they can give you a new sense of release and a greater ability to perform at your best and enjoy life.

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