Lessons for You and Your Clients
Managing Stress for Life Coaches and your clients.
Stress does not exist outside you. You are in charge of your stress level and can learn to manage it to your advantage.
By David J. Saker Ph.D., ILCT
The stress-response is a normal, sometimes life-saving, physiological change in your body, designed to energize you to cope with perceived threats or stressors. You make thousands of internal adjustments (adaptations) each day of your life. You usually learn your “coping mechanisms” early, and with time and practice, they become “automatic.” Coping automatically with the stressors in your life is essential to smooth functioning and adaptability. Coping mechanisms that are automatic, are called “unconscious adaptations.” Each of us requires and uses a variety of unconscious adaptations and most people cope successfully with 98% of their stressors.
Every one of your coping mechanisms works…or you wouldn’t use it again. What’s more, you have always coped with the stressors in your life. But some unconscious adaptations have a high cost. These are known “negative coping mechanisms.” For example, smoking, doing drugs, eating or drinking alcohol do bring rather immediate relief from stress-related tension or pain. But the positive effects of negative coping don’t last very long and the negative effects are often quite serious.
Stress is not all bad; it only becomes a problem when it goes off when not needed; when it stays on longer than is useful; or when you can’t turn it off. Stress can also be used to motivate and empower us to accomplish tasks, to sharpen our thinking, and to maintain a high level of energy. The key is to learn to control and manage stress to maximize performance and avoid burnout.
Here are 15 tips to creatively manage stress.
Know that stress does not exist outside you. You are in charge of your stress level, and can learn to manage it to your advantage. Discover and exercise your strengths. Consistently seek more efficient and effective ways to deal with stress and accomplish what you want.
View change and “problems” as challenges, not as loss or threat.Keep in mind that everything changes. Allow yourself to “float on the river of life.” Search for the opportunities, not the obstacles, inherent in change. Convert the stress of change into excitement for meeting a new challenge.
Have a continuous positive orientation and outlook for yourself and others.William Arthur Ward once wrote, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” Give attention to what you find most valuable.
Set priorities. Be consistent. Focus on the present moment. Spend your time and energy in ways that meet your values and standards.
Develop flexibility, agility and tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. Ensure flexibility in your approach by being willing to quickly modify what isn’t working.
Explore new roles and possibilities. Learn conflict-resolving skills which lead to “win-win” solutions. Intend your conflicts to result in everyone getting what they want.
Forgive easily and readily.
Use language to create meaning and context for change, achievements and solutions. Everyone needs to feel important. Use a vocabulary that recognizes and appreciates others. Nobel laureate, Hans Selye, in his groundbreaking research on stress said that “gratitude is the most stressless emotion.”
Identify the things you can control and focus energy and attention on them. Avoid spending time, energy, worry or thought attending to things over which you have no influence or control. Instead, give attention to what you find most valuable. Set priorities. Spend your time and energy in ways that meet your values and standards. Focus on strengths.
Refuse to get derailed by those who are pessimistic, resistant or discontent. Explore other possible points of view. Look for the positive in every situation. Define a problem as a challenge or opportunity for a new experience or the development of a new skill.
Look for humor in your life. Attend to the positive qualities of yourself and those of your family members.
Take 100 percent responsibility for your responses. Winston Churchill once said,”The price of greatness is responsibility.” Use and control your own impulses. Develop your own, accurate belief system and act accordingly. Drop some commitments when you have too many.Under-promise and over-deliver. Give and receive feedback that is relevant and important to managing both the risks and possibilities associated with anticipated or desired change.
Refuse to take personally the tensions and conflicts brought about by change or by those people around you. Set your own standards and boundaries and let other people know what they are. Accept others’ boundaries. Really listen to others and respond from your understanding of their expressed point of view.
Have confidence in your ability to influence events and circumstances around you. You do have an impact not only with your actions, but also with your thoughts and energy. Success guru, Napoleon Hill wrote,”You have absolute control over but one thing, and that is your thoughts. If you fail to control your own mind, you may be sure you will control nothing else.”
Take excellent care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Maintaining a balance in all of these aspects of your life will minimize your stress and maximize your health.
Frequently debrief with others. Have a community of people who are optimistic, passionate and oriented around possibility, creativity and opportunity. Make new friends. Be a friend to others. Touch each other mentally, emotionally, physically, affectionately and gently.
Continually renew and update your knowledge and skills. Never stop learning. Invest yourself in a meaningful way. Serve or do someone else a favor. Persist in gaining self-knowledge, growth, goal-attainment and self-improvement.
Allow yourself and others the space to experiment with fresh approaches. Encourage the expression of new ideas, solutions and viewpoints. Explore other possible points of view.
Accept your friends and family members for who they are now, and realize that nobody is perfect all the time. Give yourself lots of encouragement and positive, self-affirming statements. Give lots of “positive strokes” to others as well.
View setbacks and mistakes as natural and necessary aspects of risk-taking and learning. View failures as stepping stones toward success. Let go of your problems. Define a problem as a challenge or opportunity for a new experience or the development of a new skill. Reward yourself.
By practicing the above principles, you can maximize your stress-management abilities and enhance your performance! Good luck/work building your business. (DJS)