Have you ever noticed that some people seem to breeze through life without a care, while others seem to be overcome by worry and stress?
Although we may have different ideas of what is stressful, and different ways of coping, everyone experiences some degree of stress in their lives.
Although we usually think of stress as a negative thing, stress can also come from positive experiences. Whether you are planning a wedding, caring for a sick relative, expecting a baby, or looking for a job, stress can have real physical and mental impacts on your life.
So what can you do to help minimize the effects of stress? Time Magazine spoke with psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do," and shared these six tips that mentally strong people use to help control their stress:
1) Keep it in perspective
When you concentrate on stress, it can seem to overshadow everything else in your life. Don’t let stress become the monster in the closet that you can’t control and are afraid to face. Keep your thoughts about stress realistic and remind yourself that, just as things that cause stress show up, they will also go away.
2) Trust yourself
Mentally strong people tend to be self-confident. Instead of thinking that you can’t handle one more thing, remind yourself that you are going to be okay, and that you can find a way to deal with the stress.
3) Adjust your focus
Concentrating on things you can’t change will get you nowhere. Instead, use your energy in positive ways to handle responsibilities and solve the problems that you can control.
This may also include prioritizing tasks to better manage your time. Failing to keep up with important things in your life because you are spending your time on less crucial tasks is a sure way to increase your stress. Focus on getting the most important things done first.
4) Know where stress comes from
Mentally strong people recognize things that cause them stress, and also recognize signs in themselves that they are becoming stressed. Being self-aware can help you head off stress before it becomes overwhelming.
If you notice that you are becoming stressed, take steps to remain calm. This may include asking for help, and getting more exercise or sleep to support your health.
Managing your stress may also entail setting boundaries or limits. You are the only person who can control how much of your time and emotional energy you give away. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, give yourself permission to say “no” when asked to add one more thing.
5) Build a support system
Whether you need a true partner in a project, or someone to listen while you vent, having a strong support system can help you combat stress.
But be careful about the kinds of people who surround yourself with. Positive people can help lift you out of the stress zone, while negative people may highlight the gloom, and make you feel more stressed instead of feeling better.
6) Have healthy fun
Taking time for yourself and the things you love to do is a great way to relieve your stress. So give yourself permission to enjoy life. Give yourself time to do things you enjoy, such as being with family, or reading a book.
It is important to develop healthy ways to enjoy yourself while you support your physical and emotional health. This might include an exercise program, meditation or journaling to help clear your mind.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 33 percent of all Americans say they are living with extreme stress and 77 percent report that they regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.
If you feel overwhelmed, are using alcohol or drugs to cope with your stress, or have suicidal thoughts, talk to your doctor or a mental health care provider.
National Institute of Mental Health. Facts Sheet on Stress. Web. January 13, 2016.
Time. 9 Ways Mentally Strong People Handle Stress. Steven Benna. Web. January 13, 2016.
The American Institute of Stress. Daily Life. Web. January 13, 2016.
Reviewed January 15, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith