Stressed out about family, your job, your community, or your leadership? We all experience that stress from time to time, but prolonged stress is a silent killer that we should not ignore. We need to have a productive way to deal with the triggers that we react to the most – the things that stress us out and cause problems in our lives. And sometimes, a slight adjustment in our perspectives does wonders for relieving some of that stress.
Based on my own experiences of trial and error, success, failure, and other hard-knock lessons, I’d like to share five ways to reduce stress.
- Don’t worry about what other people worry about. Do you bristle up and become flustered whenever something controversial is discussed? Do you get heart-palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches, and other signs of irritability whenever someone brings up something you would rather avoid? Understand that when people air concerns about controversial issues, this is not an attack on you personally. You are not the center of the problem. When people want to bring up a topic that is controversial and concerning to them, they are simply trying to reach a solution and bridge understanding. Try and see the issue from the perspective of others. Is there something in their argument that makes some degree of sense? And if there are few productive communication channels through which people can discuss their concerns, then naturally you are going to find some people becoming more emotionally charged. Don’t shut down when an angry, frustrated, passionate, emotional person vents his or her concerns. It’s not an attack on you. It’s not even about you. It was never about you. Solution: Have an open mind. Try and realize that there just might be valid reasons for their concerns that you haven’t considered. Try helping others resolve their concerns productively. Be the peacemaker! Your voice just might be able to build relationships bridges instead of burn them.
- Realize that problems buried alive never die. – Hate confrontation? Avoidance will not help the situation. Often the fear of confrontation is far greater than the process of problem solving. Ignoring a problem often causes the problem to grow much larger. Solution: Stop procrastinating and avoiding the need to confront issues. Confrontation is not a bad thing! In fact, confrontation is a necessary part of reconciliation, apology, forgiveness, healing and restoration! Be a part of the solution. Deal with problems and don’t let them fester and rot.
- So you have haters… – “Haters” (i.e. people who back-stab, nit pick, sabotage you and complain about you and what you do,) will always air unsolicited opinions and spread their gossip about you whenever you try to accomplish anything worthwhile or whenever you get positive attention for what you are doing. It comes with the territory! And sometimes it’s even your own boss doing it to you. Of course it hurts! But rather than curling up fetal-position in that insecure, anti-social ball of bitter misery, pick yourself up again and brush it off. See those “haters” as the sad, insecure, jealous wimps that they really are. Don’t let them get you down! Don’t even worry about it. As the saying goes: What goes around comes around. People who plant seeds of hate and gossip will eventually reap a harvest of the same thing, but much larger than whatever they dished out to begin with! Not everyone will like you. Stop trying to gain favor from those who will never applaud you. You can’t win them all! There will always be a percentage of people who will not like you no matter what you do. Solution: Have a good cry, then shrug it off and don’t let it bother you anymore. And here’s another tip: if you focus on developing your character, trust that God will develop your reputation. That’s how He rolls, and with God on your side, you can’t go wrong.
- Dismount that high horse, Kemosabe! – Stop vindictively snarking about your friends, family and co-workers on Facebook or any other social grapevine of choice. It’s not cute. It’s not even funny. It’s disturbing! (Remember “what goes around comes around”?) Quit focusing on the problems, bad habits and imperfections of other people. Chances are, you have a trunk load of your own junk and issues as well, so when you vent away about other people’s problems it’s actually evidence of your own haughty, self-righteousness attitude! Solution: Focus on the strengths of others instead of their weaknesses. You kill more flies with honey than with vinegar. So go out of your way to give compliments to others – especially the difficult people. It will make you feel better, and it will make them feel good about themselves! It melts their icy attitude. It diffuses anger and frustration, and it lightens the entire mood of the atmosphere around you.
- Quit worrying about tomorrow. Let go and let God handle it. Give all of your concerns to Him and keep a personal log of how He answers you. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you see.