Three Healthy Ways to Handle Stress

July 29, 2016
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There is hope for insomniacs and the super stressed thanks to the mental health movement called positive psychology.  Proponents of this movement contend that the stress itself is not the culprit of ill effects such as insomnia, but how people think about it and their resulting reactions.  Dale Carnegie said, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  Psychiatrist and director of the Pediatric Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Vermont Medical Center, David Rettew, M.D. concurs having stated, “How you think about a situation can drive how you behave, and even how the body responds.”

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Here are three healthy ways to handle stress.

  1. Choose wisdom over worry. It’s been said that worry is like reverse prayer.  Instead of hoping for the best outcome, we dive into the realm of everything that could go wrong.  Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations principle, ‘Break the worry habit before it breaks you,’ underscores the negative consequences of stress—both physiologically and psychologically.

People who suffer from insomnia often lament that they were, “up all night running through every scenario in their heads.”  The universe is full of infinite possibilities and considering all of them will take much longer than one night!  If you choose to worry, you are deliberately increasing stress.  Instead, repeat what your ideal scenario for any situation would be softly to yourself and imagine yourself in the picture of the outcome you have painted.  Focusing on the positive—your preferred outcome will thwart worry and the act of repetition will help you fall asleep.

  1. Cooperate with the inevitable. After conducting research on a million employees, TalentSmart found that 90% of the top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.  If you miss a work-out, instead of beating yourself up about it, accept it and move on with your day.  If not, the likelihood you’ll miss another work-out skyrockets.  Stuff happens to everyone, however the difference between successful and stressful people is whether or not they are adept at managing their emotions.
  1. Pass up pity parties.  Misery loves company so it’s natural to share struggles with co-workers, friends and family.  It’s quite common to wallow in worry around the proverbial water cooler, however this behavior only amplifies stress.  As each participant presents her plight, the sense of overall stress soars.  Dale Carnegie’s first Human Relations principle is, ‘Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.’ If you find it too difficult to avoid commiserating with malcontents, ask the complainer how they plan to solve the problem or help brainstorm paths to resolution instead of feeding into the negative frenzy. 

Instead, stress solo.  Talk a walk alone; do some breathing exercises or take a break with a co-worker without focusing on what’s going wrong.  Allow your mind to recalibrate by doing soothing activities instead of sadistic ones.

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