STRESS: It’s your choice
by Helen Antholis
We all get stressed from time to time. Certain situations make us nervous, worried, or anxious. If negative stress and chronic tension are excessive, they can lead to a long list of stress-related diseases. We know, in our heads, that it’s not good for us. But, frankly, stress is a difficult thing to control. The key to managing it is to effectively deal with it for what it is. Here are some thoughts on what causes stress and how to manage it.
Unanswered questions cause stress
Have you ever noticed that stress can be caused simply by having unanswered questions that haunt you?
Will I get the job? Will they like me? Will I be accepted into the program? Will I finish this project on time? WIll I have enough money to retire? Will the mortgage be approved? Will I catch my train?
As you can see, these questions can raise stress levels pretty quickly. Worded in these ways, they show that we depend on someone else to be in control. Why? Maybe so that we can blame them if things don’t work out as we wish.
Loss of power causes stress
Let’s look at these questions for who has the power. The interviewer has the power to hire you; the new friends have the power to like you; the program director has the power to reject you; the economy has the power to control your finances; the bank has the power to decline your loan; the boss has the power to keep you late at the office.
Taking control of your thoughts and actions reduces your stress
By doing what you can to get the answers to these questions, you’ll start to manage your stress. But first, take each of these questions and re-word it in a way that you can answer from a position of control.
For example, instead of “Will I get the job?”, re-word it as “Did I do everything in my power to create the right impression and communicate my value to the company?” That’s a question you can answer.
For “Will they like me?”, re-word it as “Did I act in a likable way?”
For “Will I have enough money to retire?”, re-word it as “Have I taken the necessary steps to ensure that my income will be in line with my expenses when I want to retire?”
Once you re-word the question in a way that puts you in control, you can take the initiative to prepare and follow-through for the results you desire.
Valuing foresight reduces your stress
In each case, there are ways to behave that result from being prepared. But it’s more than being prepared. Like a chess game, you need to anticipate outcomes and plan several steps ahead to win.
Back to the question, “Will I get the job?” What did you do to increase your chances of a successful outcome?
- Did you have an incredible resume?
- Did you anticipate job needs and get the appropriate education and training?
- Did you do research on the company before the interview?
- Did you prepare for possible questions in the interview?
- Did you answer questions clearly and concisely?
- Did you conduct yourself with confidence?
- Did you send a follow-up thank you for the interview?
Now you can ask yourself, “Did I do everything in my power to create the right impression and communicate my value to the company?” If you can answer yes, you’ll be less stressed.
Be confident in the face of change
When you think about it, most situations causing stress stem from a change that’s about to happen - a new job, a new location, a new project, a medical illness, a career transition. As you begin to think through your approaches to the change, you’ll notice that how you think affects how you feel and behave. If you take negative thoughts and convert them to positive ones, you’ll feel in greater control of the situation. That control, in turn, will give you more confidence. That confidence, in turn, will reduce your stress levels.
You have more power than you think. You can decide how stressful you want to feel. Bottom line? It’s your choice.
Need help with preparing for the unexpected? Check out the e-guide Conquer Your Career for 100 ways to reduce career-related stress and enjoy life. Let us know how we can help you manage your stress with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here for you.
Photos by www.antholisart.com