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Manage stress successfully

Stress is a natural experience for all people. There is good stress and bad stress. Short bouts of stress can be good and motivate a person to get something done or overcome an obstacle. Excitement can be coupled with stress. It is called “eustress.” Good stress can propel you forward and assist in reaching higher levels of achievement, more success, happiness or fulfillment. I experience good stress prior to making a presentation or giving a speech. It results in a better delivery and higher level of engagement with the audience. Some call it butterflies, and many people have it before big events, even actors and actresses, professional speakers, etc.

Deadlines can also be a source of good stress, but when a person is always scrambling to meet deadlines it can become ongoing. When the cause is procrastination in their preparation one can find themselves exhausted and with an inability to deliver regardless of preparation.

Bad stress has health consequences and hinders progress in a work situation as well as relationships, both family and friendships. Negative stress is detrimental because it is often continual and there is little time to recover from the effects. Living in a situation of “fight or flight” leaves a person in a constant threatening state of mind. It affects mind and body. There are many various physical issues that can result including heart disease, irritability, trouble focusing, weight gain, depression, memory loss and more. There can be more suffering over time. Bad or chronic stress can also contribute to relationship troubles, ongoing high demands at work with little or no reprieve and losses of friends or family members.

You can’t completely eliminate the stressors in your life but they can be managed and controlled. Following are some ideas for controlling the negative stress in life.

1. Acceptance of those things over which you have control and understanding that there are some things that you can’t control.

2. Remove yourself from situations when you realize it is stressing you out.

3. Get involved in helping other people.

4. Maintain good health by getting plenty of exercise and eating healthy.

5. Get engaged in activities that you enjoy.

6. Talk to someone who is positive and a good listener.

7. Use your time wisely and don’t overdo it.

8. Stop procrastinating.

9. Work toward resolving problems.

10. Learn to relax. Get a good night’s sleep.

11. Write down the things that bother you.

12. Let your feelings out by crying, laughing or expressing anger when you need to.

13. Develop some new hobbies that are fulfilling to you.

14. Focus on the present and don’t worry about the future.

While you cannot control all events, you can control your reactions to them. Learn to relax. Take deep breaths, close your eyes and imagine being in a peaceful state. Change bad personal habits like smoking, reducing caffeine intake and over indulgence in alcohol. Seek new interests and schedule leisure time. Seek professional help if necessary. Determine to manage change and not be a victim of it. Do not rebel against or be afraid of change.

Learning coping strategies and practicing the techniques until they become habits will work for you in managing the stress in your life.  Put things in perspective and take a break when you feel stressed. Good relationships with friends and family and being in a job where the workplace is open, allows for good communication and people are respectful of each other is ideal for the reduction and management of stress in your life. The good news is that some stress can be good for you and with practice and patience you can learn to manage the unwanted stress in your life. It begins with understanding and feeling good about yourself. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of a life completely free of stress. Just teach yourself how to manage it successfully and you will be happier and those you care about will enjoy your company more.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.