An expert reveals simple strategies to deal with stress

What are the seven sources of stress, and why are they keeping you in a place you don't want to be?

Sometimes you find yourself in a rut - and that's okay - because this happens to everybody at some point in their lives. Stress is usually a factor when we feel like we're trapped in a cycle we don't want to be in, so learning how to deal and overcome it just may lead to a breakthrough or change in your situation.

Here, Daniel Tolson, business coach and emotional intelligence specialist shares his top tips for identifying stress and some strategies for managing it when it comes:

Worry

"Worrying plays with our minds and our immune systems, affecting our mental and physical health. Studies show that of all the things we worry about, 96 per cent are beyond our control.

Managing worry can be done in four simple steps:

  •  Define your worry in writing.
  • Think of the worst thing that could happen as a result of the problem and write it down.
  • Decide to accept the worst case if it were to occur.
  • Now decide on some measures to prevent the worst from occurring.

This is the way to oversee your worry and take purposeful action to prevent the problem."

Lack of meaning

"This happens when you don’t feel like your life has purpose because you don’t have any large goals that you are working towards.

"You can control this type of stress by making some long-term goals for your personal and business life. Then create some sub-goals that are steps towards the larger goal. This can help to refocus your mind and prevent the feeling of meaninglessness."

The ‘incomplete task’

"A job left undone, a project not quite finished or a responsibility left unchecked can be a huge causes of high stress levels. This usually happens as a result of procrastination.

"The only way to rid yourself of this stress is to become an action-oriented person. When you receive anything that requires your attention, deal with it immediately; start the task and stay with it until it is completed. This is easier said than done, but without using your self-discipline, this stress will never go away. If you are currently in the ‘incomplete task’ boat, you should stop reading this article, and give the matter your attention until it is done. With the task accomplished, you will feel better right away and be able to get on with life."

Fear of failure

"Fearing failure can actually be a really good thing as it motivates you to work hard. But when the fear takes over, it can manifest as anxiety, indecision and worry. Unfortunately, this intense fear of failure is often learnt in childhood and can be hard to counter.

"However, there are a couple of ways to deal with this fear. The first is to continually affirm yourself. Every time you start to feel incapable or stressed, speak to yourself out loud and say, 'I can do it, I can do it, I can do this.' Another way is to visualise what someone in your situation would do if they were totally unafraid. Then, before you can think twice, act exactly as the person you visualised. The more you push past the fear of failure, the less of a stress source this will become."

Fear of rejection

"This often manifests itself as an intense need to gain the approval of other people. Its roots are also often found in childhood, where a person did not receive much love or support.

"This means dealing with a fear of rejection is very similar to dealing with other fears. Counter it by telling yourself that you love yourself. Say it out loud, with passion and conviction. If you do this often, the message will plant itself in your subconscious."

Denial

"This can become a major source of stress when a person decides to ignore a mistake, challenge or event that is pressing on them. There is usually some level of pain that accompanies facing the truth that causes you to ignore it.

"Facing challenges and mistakes head-on actually causes far less stress than ignorance does. If there is a problem you are ignoring, it is far better to face it now than to take on the stress of denial."

Anger

"Uncontrolled anger can be the most destructive source of stress when not managed. It can destroy your mental and physical health and be detrimental to your relationships. Anger is something which comes from within you. No one can make you angry. Once you recognise that to be angry is your choice, not a cause of external circumstance, it becomes easier to manage.

"By recognising and owning your anger, and not blaming anybody else, you have already greatly lessened the impact. Acknowledging this will help you to stay calm when you feel frustrated. You can choose how to respond. However, it is important not to bury your anger or let it build up. When alone, use a method to release your anger. Screaming into a pillow, using a punching bag or intense exercise are great ways to release your anger, and therefore your stress."

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