When your situation starts going into code red and things start crashing around you, it can be hard not to crumple into a ball of anxiety. But there are ways to make a stressful situation less stressful, if only you don't fold to that uncomfortable, panic-ridden feeling. Whether you've missed an important deadline, aren't experiencing the kind of success you hoped for at work or school, or are feeling a strain on an important relationship, it can be easy to spiral out of control. Not all of us are built like rocks and could weather storms, but even if you feel that knee-jerk of panic, one thing you can control is how you react to it.
And what you're going to have to practice to do is not lose all your marbles once the first obstacle pops up. Rather, you need to take a pause, give yourself enough room to gather appropriate perspective, and then shift right into solution mode. There's no room for freak outs if you want to smooth out a stressful situation. Rather, you have to focus on grabbing hold of all the factors you can control, and making them go your way. Below are nine tips on how to make a stressful situation less stressful.
1. Put It Into Perspective
In the middle of a harrying time, it can be hard to consider how important the fallout of this stressful situation will be in our lives. As in, if we fail or if it blows up in our face, will it even matter later down the road? Lifestyle writer Henrik Edberg at self development site The Positivity Blog offered, "Then I ask myself: Will this matter five years from now? Or even five weeks from now? Those two steps have helped me to build a lot less mountains in my life." If you put your situation into perspective and get real about how much the failure will matter, you can cut down on the stress and approach it with a less frantic eye.
2. Stop Any Knee Jerk Reactions
Stop. Breathe. And let that stressed feeling settle before you react. More times than not our knee-jerk reactions only lead to more trouble, so force yourself to absorb the situation for an hour or so so you can react with clarity. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. from Psych Central suggested, "Harness your harmful knee-jerk reactions, which is essentially your fight or flight response. When something negative happens, some people mentally withdraw from the situation, while others go on the defensive and lash out." Don't do either and instead give yourself the time to figure out how you feel about the situation.
3. Try To Find The Positive Side In All The Madness
While it can seem like nothing good can come out of the situation, there's always something to be gleaned. Lifestyle writer Nane Steinhoff at The Guardian pointed out, "If you missed a deadline, try to appreciate what you learned from this mistake: now you know how to plan ahead. Things might seem bad, but if you try, there is usually something positive to be learned." With every bad situation there's a lesson to be learned for next time.
4. Don't Compare Yourself To Others
A stressful situation only becomes so much worse when you think about how Jen over there would never have messed up like this or how Karla would have kept the whole operation running if it was in her hands. Don't do that, that doesn't help you. And, it's not even true. According to professional coach Marc Chernoff at self-development site Marc and Angel Hack Life, "Sometimes the reason we struggle with stress and insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel. Give it up." No one is perfect, so by comparing how you're doing a bad job compared to someone else doesn't help things and isn't even an accurate observation.
5. Spring Into Solution Mode
Rather than stressing out about how everything is falling down around your head, spring into action and start looking for solutions. Edberg explained, "Spend 80 percent of your time focusing on a solution. And only 20 percent of your time on dwelling on your non-molehill issue or problem." That way you're staying proactive and focusing on what you can change, rather than what you can't.
6. Ask Yourself Questions That Lead To Solutions
Rather than wringing your hands with worry, begin coming up with a game plan. But how to do that when your mind is racing with a hundred stressed thoughts? As yourself some insightful questions. Tartakovsky offered, "Ask yourself these three questions: What has worked in the past? What would someone I admire do? What would someone objective do?" These will help you get to powerful solutions and answers.
7. Focus On Just Today
If your life is spiraling out of control, don't freak out over how you'll mop everything up and put it back together. Instead, just focus on the good that you can do in that one day. Edberg pointed out, "Focus only on that. Forget about all those tomorrows. And about all your yesterdays. Go small, narrow your focus greatly and just take care of today. Then you can take care of tomorrow when it comes." By tackling smaller goals and game plans, it becomes more manageable.
8. Locate Your Fears, And Squash Them
Stress is usually rooted in fear, so to take back control of the situation you need to locate those fears and talk yourself into believing they're not true. Chernoff explained, "Your fears are based on some fantasy in your head about how things are supposed to be (and you fear that your life may not live up to that fantasy): you have an image in your head that you’re going to be perfect, have people like you, be comfortable all the time, and succeed on all fronts." If you're panicking because of the fear of one of these things, calm yourself down by talking yourself through why it's not true, and your stress will lessen.
9. Just Don't Accept Stress
Even if things are feeling absolutely nuts, just tell yourself that you absolutely will not, 100 percent, accept stress. You're going to ride it through with a cool head and a head focused on the future, and you won't let yourself succumb to panic. Lifestyle writer Todd Smith form self development site Little Things Matter, explained, "Refuse to get stressed out. As an example, if you are feeling stress because of everything you have to do, but yet you are giving 100% of yourself and you are working on things in a prioritized sequence, say, 'I’m doing all I can do.'"
And if you follow these tips, the next hurdle you have to jump through will be much less frantic and more manageable. Good luck!