Change brings on stress, and so in part 3 of Thrive Through Change, we dedicate an entire episode on how to deal with stress.
We all know that when negative things are going on in our lives, it causes stress. Things like a relationship breakup, a job redundancy, a health scare or even the fear of something changing. Stress can be your constant companion.
But it isn’t just negative events. Even positive changes bring stress. Examples include your first day of a great new job, moving to a new home, leaving home, or going on an overseas trip.
So the question for us is, can anything be done on how to deal with stress, or should we just do nothing and put up with it?
In this podcast, Guy and Chris argue that there are things you can do to deal with stress. That there are simple tactics to manage stress.
Stream episode 56 of Real Talk 4 Real Men — how to deal with stress — below:
Some of what you will discover on how to deal with stress in this episode:
1. Acknowledge the stress exists
A problem will tend to grow without contest if we can’t or choose not to see it. So step one is to acknowledge that I am under stress. If we pretend that we are not stressed, then we will tend to get used to living with that stress — perhaps even living under a low level of anxiety — that we come to see as normal and ‘just the way it is’.
But does your life really have to be like that?
No, you can’t avoid stress. But the body’s stress mechanisms are designed to rise and fall. If you are living under a constant level of stress, research is telling us that it is incredibly bad for us.
The Mayo Clinic says this about prolonged stress:
The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:
Memory and concentration impairment
That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with your life stressors.
Realise you have a problem, then you can look at your options with what to do next.
2. If the source of stress can be removed without a high cost, then remove it
Sometimes stress can be removed at low cost.
Perhaps you can reduce stress by getting rid of stuff around your home. Perhaps it is by having a conversation you have been avoiding.
So one way of how to deal with stress, is to remove unnecessary stress-makers. This seems obvious, but how many of us learn to ‘put up with’ things that cause us stress?
What stress causes can you name in your life that you can remove?
3. If a source of stress can’t be easily removed, then you need to focus on mitigating that stress
Often the source of stress cannot be removed — at least in the short term. In which case, an important element of how to deal with stress is to increase and give priority to Stress Mitigators.
What are Stress Mitigators?
Stress Mitigators are things that you do or have done in the past that relax you, reduces your anxiety levels, brings you happiness, offsets your stress or provides a temporary release valve.
One example is things that make you laugh. Laughter is great medicine.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
~ Proverbs 17:22
Research shows that deep laughter increases peptides, reduces stress hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline) and can make growth hormones increase and improve your immune system (gamma interferon). One study showed that laughing by 100-200x per day is equal to 10 minutes of rowing or joggling in terms of benefits to your health.
Playing non-competitive games is a great way to have fun and release stress
Other well-proven Stress Mitigators are exercise, meditation, prayer, sabbaticals, time in the country/with nature, time with good friends, playing games with your kids, among others.
On the other side of the coin, avoid things that may work in the short term, but become addictive and gradually lose their power and become dangerous. This category includes alcohol, drugs, smoking and porn.
4. Set yourself ‘worry time’ so you don’t do it constantly
Maybe you do have something serious to deal with.
You feel justified in worrying and stressing about it. After all, it is important, right?
If you feel this way, then do yourself a favour and schedule worry time.
Stop worrying about something constantly, and set aside time for you to think through the problem and your options.
~ Guy Mullon
This will reduce your stress levels, and allowed you to actually do a better job at plotting a course forward.
5. Focus on others in times of stress
Very often when we are stressed, others will be stressed too. This is especially true if we are a parent. Our kids will pick up that ‘something is wrong with mum or dad’, and with kids’ simple way of thinking and less life experience, they can often interpret those signs wrongly.
Many a child blames themselves for their parents fighting.
Lots of men have been really stressed by work, and their kids interpret the change as a problem with them.
“Dad doesn’t like us, so he lives at work now.”
And kids (teens & young adults especially) don’t usually have the same mechanisms for coping with stress as adults do.
So I know you’re stressed, but have a conversation with those around you and tell them that it isn’t their fault, and you need some patience as you work though your issues.
6. Don’t be ashamed to get a guide to help you through stressful times
There is no shame in getting help with your stress. In Guy’s experience as a coach and Chris’s experience as a pastor, stress can be lowered quite quickly with the assistance of a trained, impartial third party.
It is amazing that just talking through a stressful situation can bring clarity.
Most people I coach don’t need me to tell them what to do — they already know.
But what they need is to get the clarity that only verbalizing their circumstances, thought and emotions can bring.
~ Guy Mullon
The question is, what is at stake for you if you continue down the path you are on? What is the destination, and is it somewhere you want to go?
Stress leads to mental health issues, divorce, financial loss, career failure, relationship breakdowns, procrastination, loss of hope and even suicide.
If you want to know how to deal with stress in your life, reach out to find someone to talk to today.
What do you do to mitigate the stress in your life?
Please share your practical ideas for others in the comments below.
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Chris Field and Guy Mullon team up as the podcast bros to bring you Real Talk 4 Real Men. It is a show where they tackle the real issues faced by men in today's world. With guests or just with the two of them, you will always be guaranteed to get challenged and encouraged and to get it real across the life topics of business, family, faith and a man's own well-being. You can find Chris' blog here and find his YouTube channel here.
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