WHAT IS STRESS:
Stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize. The operative word in the definition is ‘perceives’. Since perception varies from person to person, people differ in the way they handle challenges. One who perceives challenge positively feels exhilaration of pushing the limits, while at the same pressure another might feel the build up of anxiety, become irritable and unable to think and therefore will deliver sub-optimal performance.
SOME COMMON EXTERNAL CAUSES OF STRESS INCLUDE:
• Serious financial trouble
• Job crisis
• Lawsuit / divorce
• Illness of self or family members
• War / political instability
INTERNAL CAUSES OF STRESS:
• Emotional turmoil/ Anger
• Ego Imbalance
• Relationship Trouble
1) Building Resilience
In order to deal with external stress generating factors we have to build resilience. Building something involves time and investment. This cannot be done at the time of crisis but continuously, throughout growth and development. Resilience is the process of adapting to anything that can be a source of stress such as a tragedy or adversity, and learning how to bounce back, Scientists have found 10 common resilience factors that include exercising, being optimistic, finding purpose, spirituality, having role-models, and others. I personally build my mental resilience through athleticism, especially brisk walk with music.
2) Building Self-Confidence
Self-Discovery is experienced every day as we face new challenges and situations. Becoming aware of one’s abilities involves some introspection and mind-fullness. The accuracy of self-assessment is continuously tested by significant others in the immediate surroundings. The dynamic self-image we hold is the resultant of a tussle between the ego (appreciative) and the critical system we learn to internalize so we no longer need to carry significant others (parents, siblings, teacher, boss) around with us to tell us when we are making a fool of our self or how smart we are.
3) Practising Stress and Preparing for the worst
What if you could immunize yourself against stress? Doctors and scientists know this as stress inoculation. It’s like readying yourself to become resistant to certain stressors, just as a vaccination protects you from certain diseases. Start by imagining high stress-inducing situations and explore how you can prepare yourself for them.While ancient philosophers have practised imagining the worst-possible scenarios in order to learn how to deal with them, one can start small. Think of situations that stress you out on a day-to-day basis such as public speaking or confrontation. If this sounds like rehearsing for stress, it actually is. With adequate rehearsal and thinking ahead, we can learn how to face stress instead of being alarmed or cornered by a new stressful situation.But don’t just stop at facing it. Think about what you can do to avoid stress and increase productivity. Not only facing stress but proactively anticipating it and dealing with it is the greatest gift you can give yourself.A change in perception can help you manage any anxiety.
4) Change how you See Stress
Managing stress begins with changing your perception about stress. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a path-breaking study in 2012. They observed how 28,000 people perceived stress in their lives. They were asked questions around how much stress they thought they were experiencing: a lot, moderate, little, and no stress at all. This was followed up with another question: How much effect does stress have on your health? A lot, some, hardly any or none at all. The researchers found startling results when they looked at death rates in the study group over nine years: The study, popularized by Kelly McGonigal in her Ted Talk, found that merely being stressed is not what’s linked with premature death. Instead, it was those people who were stressed and believed that it was taking a toll on their health who experienced a 43 percent increased risk of premature death.
5) Reality Check
Accepting inputs from the external world is an important step in confidence building as it keeps us in touch with reality, preventing delusional images from forming. Shattering of delusions can be painful as and when inevitably reality does bite.Inaccurately high self-assessors land up in situations that display their inadequacy and end up with egg on the face. Low self-image on the other hand results in ineffectiveness as one remains unsure of ones abilities and avoids challenging tasks, passing up opportunities thus falling behind competitors of lesser caliber.
6) Building Bonds
A large part of confidence rests on the team, organization or nation we are part of. To be trusted and loved by other members we have to be able to trust and love them as well.Relationship bonds work both ways and they are built slowly, brick by brick.Relationships rely on the power of empathy, to feel what the other feels, to understand and build rapport . Trust is based on this connectedness as empathy circuits allow us to perceive the intentions of others and sniff out insincerity. Emotional Intelligence is the foundation of any relationship, personal or professional, enabling social effectiveness and influence. Relationships based on strong bonds and trust, are seldom troubled.Dependability of time-tested bonds lends us strength and helps build resilience.
7) Building Positive Attitude
Perception of stress is affected by our view of the world. If we look at the world with jaundiced eyes everything is tinged with suspicion and alienation. If the view is too rosy, there may be many unpleasant surprises that eventually lead to a jaundiced picture. Keeping close to reality protects us from extreme attitudes that would otherwise rock the boat. Positive attitudes lead to optimism due to which we put in our best effort and achieve. Optimism drives us to take initiatives without which there would be no progress. Self-confidence balanced with caution of realism allows us to take the risk of enterprise in the face of uncertain outcomes and possible failure.
8) Attitude towards Failure
Failure is always disappointing. The way in which we look at failure decides how far we will proceed on the path to success. If failures are regarded as blots in history they will breed pessimism and become stumbling blocks. If the same failures are regarded as stepping stones they will carry us forward and we will be liberated from the recurrence of toxic negative emotion every time memory throws up mention of past failures.
9) Accepting Feedback
Criticism always carries a sting. If we learn to regard criticism as a painful injection that will make us better, we can even be grateful for it. Even when criticism is delivered with the intention of hurting or crushing, we can learn to pay enough heed to filter away the poison and look for the grain of truth within it and use it to improve and develop further. To be able to handle criticism we will first need to set aside the inevitable hurt we feel when we first hear or see the feed-back. This ability, to turn around a bad feeling by looking past it towards more important issues, is a function of emotional intelligence. Building self-confidence, fulfilling relationships, optimism and positive attitudes towards failure and feed-back have a protective role on physiology, keeping us healthy and vigorous.