There are so many ways to deal with stress: you can compensate for the moral damage with tons of sweets, become thoroughly engrossed in computer games or just pretend that everything that happens does not concern you. The trouble is that this does not solve the problem. If you really want to learn to control your worrying, read the article and put its advice into practice.
There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who know they can influence the course of events and the ones who go with the flow. Members of the first group understand that life and career are entirely in their own hands, and there are no other ways to achieve the desired. The representatives of the second category behave exactly like Forrest Gump: sit and wait for the bus so that it can take them somewhere.
University of Florida psychologist Tim Judge has proven that people who are confident and feel in control of their own live will eventually do better in almost every matter. Such study participants – let’s call them “responsible” – not only fulfilled their professional duties better and mastered new tasks quicker, but also had a 50-150% bigger annual income than their counterparts.
Tim Judge’s study revealed an interesting feature of responsible people: they do not lose control even in the most difficult circumstances. Yes, they, too, can feel butterflies in the stomach, but the question is how they use their excitement.
Responsible ones know that the future depends on them entirely, so worrying only fuels their ardor. Despair gives way to drive, and fear is replaced by perseverance.
No matter whether the results of their labor have been smashed to smithereens, or they have been denied hiring again, they are in no hurry to raise the white flag. Life can give any surprises, but responsible people only double and triple their efforts.
How does it work?
Responsible people surpass all others in terms of the effectiveness of their labor because the ability to control emotions and stay calm even under severe stress is in direct connection with our performance. 90% of the most effective specialists share one important skill: they know how to manage their emotions.
In general, anxiety is an absolutely necessary feeling. It is difficult to get down to business until we start being at least a little worried about it; this is the way human brain works. The peak of our performance comes together with the moderate level of anxiety.
The trick is to overcome stress and keep it in reasonable limits in order to achieve maximum performance.
We know perfectly well that permanent worrying has serious consequences for our physical and mental health. So why do we find it so hard to overcome anxiety and thereby improve our life? Researchers from Yale University have found the answer.
High stress reduces the volume of gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control. Losing your self-control, you also lose the ability to cope with anxiety.
In this state, you not only fail to protect yourself from getting into difficult situations, you create them yourself (for example, you react to the words or actions of others too rapidly). Reduced self-control is especially dangerous when stress gets to physiological functions. It contributes to the development of hypertension and diabetes, leads to depression, obesity, as well as reduces cognitive abilities. It is a vicious circle where rising levels of human stress lead to exhaustion.
What should we do?
If we are not able to cope with excitement, we will never realize our potential. Each of us feels nervous in difficult situations, but there are proven ways to overcome anxiety and the fear of uncertainty – there are just five simple and incredibly effective steps. Before you continue reading, it is worth realizing one thing: right now nothing is clear, including your future. What will it be? You decide.
Step 1. Prepare for change
No one can manage completely everything. Even the most responsible people from Judge’s study sometimes remain without work, and their business goes through hard times. The difference is that they are fully prepared for the changes and know how to use any event to their advantage. You too can learn this.
From time to time, make a list of important events that may occur in the near future. The purpose here is not to predict the changes which you will have to face with. This exercise improves your ability to adequately get ready for the impending change. Even if the events from the list will never become a reality, the practice of foreseeing changes and preparing for them helps to believe that future is really in your hands.
Step 2: Focus on opportunities
Back in our youth, all of us have internalized very well the idea that life is unfair. This phrase is the voice of anxiety, frustration and passive inaction. Maybe, one sometimes fails to prevent unpleasant events, but we are always free to choose how to react to them.
Jot down all possible reactions to every event enlisted in the first point. You’d be surprised what an arsenal of reactions one can get under seemingly uncontrollable circumstances.
Step 3. Rewrite the script of your life
This is the most difficult thing – you will have to give up the things you got used to a long time ago. Each of us has a certain scenario of behavior in a given situation. So, if you want to manage your own life, it must be rewritten.
Recall any difficulties that you have encountered. What prevented you from using the situation to your advantage? Write down everything that was happening, and it would be the scenario of failure. Now imagine what you should do in case this situation is repeated. This time, you would not make a mistake, right? This is the scenario of responsible behavior, which should replace the previous failing version. In any difficult situation, compare your thoughts at the moment with the negative and positive scenarios. This not only helps to choose the right course of action, but also changes the way of thinking, as well as your life.
Step 4. Stop worrying in vain
Abandoning soul-searching in time is an important step when dealing with stress and anxiety. The more you dwell on negative thoughts, the more power they have over you.
Most of our negative experiences are just thoughts rather than facts.
Once you realize that you start listening to the pessimistic forecasts of your inner voice, immediately write down what you think. Silence these sad arguments for at least a couple of minutes, and you will be able to assess their truthfulness more rationally and soberly.
In your thoughts, you may find the words “never”, “the worst” and “someday”? Be sure this is a fantasy that does not have any connection with reality. If the thoughts are pretty believable in writing, let someone whom you trust read them. Let’s see, if he agrees with you.
When we think that any situation will last forever or, on the contrary, will never happen, it is just some play of our brain that likes to make mountains out of molehills and exaggerate the frequency and significance of a particular event. Define a clear boundary between facts and speculations, and you will break out of the vicious circle of anxiety and start moving towards new heights.
Step 5. Be thankful
Spare some time to realize why you are grateful to your life and other people; it is important not only because it is considered polite. This behavior restrains anxiety and significantly reduces the level of cortisol, a stress hormone. The research conducted at the University of California, Davis has shown that the people who regularly express gratitude demonstrate a marked improvement in mood and energy.
The main thing to remember is that overwhelming anxiety and self-empowerment are mutually exclusive concepts. Whenever stress kills your performance, simply follow the above mentioned five steps to realize your strength and regain control over the situation.