Stress can be a positive force for change or a debilitating drain on your energy. The first and key stage is understanding the causes of the stress and its effects on you. This is one of those situations in which you must be honest with yourself and those close to you. Frequently, the threat of something happening is far worse than the reality.
Have you read the piece, Dealing with Emotional Strain? These are issues on the same spectrum ranging from an unhealthy reaction to circumstances, to being overconfident and dismissive of potential negative consequences.
- Step one in dealing with stress is to identify the negative stimuli and the reasons they are having an adverse effect on you. The same factors will affect different people in a variety of ways, so be as specific and clear as possible.
- Step two is decide whether the issues are real or psychological. For example, not having enough money to pay the bills is a problem but only having half-a-billion pounds isn’t. If this sounds fatuous it is the reported reaction of a guy with assets of around £500 million but believed he would only be secure when he had doubled it. To most of us this is incredible but was real to him.
- Step three is either to truly accept there isn’t an issue or it isn’t as significant as our mind is telling us, or find solutions. One thing is certain, doing something is much better than waiting for someone to come and solve it for you.
Who can help you to either sort out the nature of the issues or find answers?
This may seem obvious but it is worth being explicit, only take drugs under the supervision of a doctor; do not self-medicate.
Anyone facing a potential crisis in life or even a sought-after change may face some physical and psychological issues. As coaches our first and primary concern is for the health of our clients. Too many people lose the motivation to exercise, eat the wrong foods and open a bottle of wine or two.
When faced with a crisis there is a temptation to withdraw. This is a natural reaction and not one for which anyone can be criticised. However, part of the answer to sadness and despair is physical activity, which we address in its own section (Focusing on health). The thing which is certain is you will be no use to yourself or your family if you are unwell, so let’s make sure it doesn’t happen.
This is not the time for binge drinking and eating. It is the time to focus on sleep, exercise, diet and, perhaps most importantly, your mental health. Our number one piece of advice is, ask for help. Do not think these are issues for you deal with on your own. There are numerous examples of people losing their jobs, not telling their family, pretending to go to work as normal, filling days with job hunt getting into debt and spiralling into despair. And it could easily have been different. Was it pride, fear, embarrassment, protection from the reality for the family or a combination of some or all of these? Yet, overwhelmingly, the better option was to share the facts and seek solutions together.
The phrase, “A trouble shared is a trouble halved” is, of course tosh in itself; it remains the same but it does have more people trying to solve it, bringing different perspectives and thoughts.
Whether the pressures and stresses come from work, relationships or anything else, they do create an emotional strain. For some people pressure is manageable but for others it passes the point of elasticity and it is a problem. Employment being under threat or even starting a new job are stressful.
If you haven’t read the section on Resilience, please do so.
Whatever the source of emotional strain, the impact can be debilitating. It becomes stress when the individual’s ability to function is impaired.
It is a widely held view that the most stressful events are;
- Death of a loved one
- Moving to a new house
- Changing jobs
For some young men dealing with being the Best Man at a wedding, because of the speech, is an incredible strain. It fills them with dread and causes sleepless nights.
We believe a little tension is healthy. People who are too laid back under-perform sometimes. Their laissez-faire attitude can create complacency. Even the most experienced public speakers get a flutter in the tummy before taking the floor. However, they know what it means and embrace it; this sets the adrenaline running and heightens the powers of concentration and delivery.