Stress isn’t always the bad guy that it’s made out to be.
The hormones created by stress can actually strengthen neural connections in
our brain, and can help us be more productive and focused. Furthermore, stress
motivates us to succeed and makes us more resilient. But when stress strikes, most of us don’t
think about its positive side-effects. Instead, we think……this really sucks. Something
that differentiates the mediocre from the extraordinary is strength and
resilience, and the way we manage stress is a great indication of those two
qualities. When I come upon a stressful situation, my goal is to be as
intentional as possible with my thoughts, and the way I perceive and process
the circumstances. I ask myself these three questions to help me stand in my
own power and handle stress with dignity…and sometimes even with a little
1. What can I control here? And the
answer is never people or circumstances. You are only in control of
your own actions and your own response to a circumstance. Others are
responsible for their actions and responses.
2. What can you do to smooth out the
situation? When you react to a stressful situation in a way that
positively influences others, you have the power to turn chaos into a learning
experience, for you and others. Act authentically and consider the
personalities involved. How can you guide things to a place where the situation
can be diffused or resolved? And if you can’t, don’t stress about it. Refer to
question #1 about control.
3. Where can I find acceptance? Sometimes
there’s simply nothing we can do to influence a stressful situation. That’s
where grace comes into play. Being able to recognize when efforts are futile
and take a step back from the situation altogether is a true sign of strength
and resilience. It’s not easy, but once you hone your ability to accept
situations that you can’t change, you’ll find the most amazing sense of
serenity…even in a world of chaos.
There are self-care techniques that can help us be mindful and intentional during stressful situations. Some are fitness, meditation, getting plenty of rest, and eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet, and being authentic and true to ourselves. Those who manage stress are not only more effective leaders, but they are also happier, healthier, and more productive. Start adding self-care practices into your daily routine, and try to be more mindful the next time you’re in a high-stress situation by asking yourself the questions above. You’ll be surprised at the contrast between how you respond instinctively versus how you respond after a moment of thought!