How To Eliminate Stress

Vinitha Pastor's picture

Woohoo! You’ve decided to eliminate stress in 2015! And when you saw the title of this blog, you thought “Yes! This brilliant therapist is going to tell me how to get rid of all of my stress!” Now that we're a couple months in, how's that stress elimination going?!?

Well, as brilliant as I am, I can’t really tell you how to eliminate stress from your life. Why? Because pain and stress are a part of life! There are a lot of things in life that cause us pain. Things that are completely, 100% out of our control. And yet, we still have to learn how to deal with it. I watched a Ted Talk by a man who said that when we start worrying about something, we go back to it over and over and over. The same thing happens with stress. We tend to drown in the stress because it stays in our mind.

So instead of trying to get rid of all of our stress, let’s think about it as how can I manage my stress more effectively? The first step is to accept that we are going to have stress. Rather than burying our heads in the sand and pretending that things are perfect, let’s accept and embrace the stress! Having stress does not make you a bad/weak/unhealthy/dysfunctional person (feel free to insert your own word in there.) Nor does accepting the stress mean that you are okay with it. It means that it is what it is AND we are going to do something about it.

The second step is to think of ways to deal with it. I’ve heard from a lot of people things that they do to deal with stress: exercise, getting a massage, going out to a nice meal, etc. Sometimes, we can break that down even more by just taking a break from it. Play a game on your phone for a few minutes. Send a text to someone letting them know you are thinking about them. Use some affirmations such as “I can get through this” or “This too shall pass.” The bigger things are helpful too and it’s also okay to do some of the smaller things as well.

The third step is to make a plan. One of the things that I have my clients do is make a list of things they can do to cope with stress ahead of time. In that intensely stressful moment, it is really hard to come up with things to do to cope. Our brain wants to drown in the stress. So let’s plan ahead. Since we’ve already accepted that we are going to have stress, let’s also make a plan of how we are going to deal with it. If it’s using mindfulness or game apps on your phone, then go ahead and download them and learn how to use them. If it’s reaching out to others, make sure you have their numbers. If it’s using affirmations or motivational quotes, write them down somewhere, even in the notes section of your phone. This way, these coping skills are already in place and are ready to be used.

These steps sound so easy to do and in reality, they aren’t. Remember you are not a bad/weak/unhealthy/dysfunctional person if you are stressed! It means you are human! And there are effective ways of handling the stress. It takes some accepting and planning ahead.