Stress can be a good thing. It can alert us to potential threats, give us a heads up that we need to change our behaviors or circumstances, and even motivate us to do our best. When stress becomes too much to handle or when we don’t know how to deal with stress appropriately, though, it can take a huge toll on our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It can even lead to serious conditions such as chronic anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stop this cycle in its tracks. Consider taking these three steps:
Step One: Take Action
The first step in learning how to deal with stress effectively is to look for its lesson. Ask yourself if the stress is coming from a situation or relationship in your life that you need to change. Perhaps you’ve been burning the candle at both ends at work, or maybe there’s a person in your life you need to be more assertive with. Take some time to reflect on what’s going on in your life at the moment, and see if there’s anything you can do to improve your circumstances. As you’re reflecting, don’t forget to examine your inner space as well. For instance, could negative self-talk be the problem? If so, simply bringing awareness to these self-defeating thought patterns can go a long way toward reversing them.
Step Two: Let It Go
Knowing how to deal with stress means realizing that it’s not always logical. If you’re feeling stressed out about something you have no control over, then you’re subjecting yourself to unnecessary and irrational anxiety. This is no way to beat depression! In fact, it’s a great way to invite it. The key is to recognize the source of the stress, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to improve things, and if not, let it go. Worrying over something you can’t change will only give it energy and make the situation worse. Of course, bad habits are hard to break, and you may find yourself stressing over things without even realizing that you’re doing it. That’s ok. Just be on guard, and when you feel the anxiety creeping up, remind yourself that you know how to deal with stress like this, and then simply let it pass through you.
Step Three: Live in the Now
Whether the stress you’re dealing with in your life is actually trying to tell you something or needlessly stealing your joy, you don’t have to let it ruin every minute of your day. Some circumstances take time to resolve and until you can deal with them properly, you’re bound to feel a little (or a lot) of stress from time to time. Even so, you can beat back depression by taking time to appreciate the now. Instead of focusing on what needs to be done on a minute-by-minute basis, allow yourself to fully enjoy the positive moments in your life by forgetting your worries for a while. Exercise, meditation, and play are great ways to take yourself outside of a stressful situation for a time.
Like all things in personal development, learning how to deal with stress effectively is a practice. Keep at it, and little by little, you’ll start experiencing less anxiety and depression and more joy and contentment in your life.