According to research, our ability to cope with challenging life situations is learned. There are many things we can do to help us to improve in our ability to rise to challenges and overcome our obstacles without feeling overwhelmed.
To cope with your life effectively, you need to know how to Manage your Stress & Problem-Solve.
When you allow yourself to get completely stressed out, you lose your ability to interpret the situation, analyze your feelings, and come up with ideas.
Therefore, it is imperative for you to figure out how to de-stress yourself quickly:
- Be aware of the physical indicators of your stress. How does your body feel when you are stressed out:
- Do you find it hard to breathe?
- Do you clench your fists?
- Are there butterflies in your stomach?
When you are experiencing these physical symptoms, stop what you are doing to focus on managing your stress.
- Recognize your emotional reaction. People who tend to get angry, agitated, or restless need to find activities to calm them down.
Others who tend to crumble in tears or withdraw in depression may need stimulating, but enjoyable, activities.
Understanding how you react to stress will help you to identify the things you need to do to de-stress.
- Identify sensory stimuli to counter stress. An effective way of countering the negative physiological effects of stress is to engage any of your five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Depending on your unique sensory preferences, you should seek out the sensory stimulus that can defuse your stress.
A visual person may be calmed/energized by awe-inspiring images, while an aural person may be more responsive to a preferred piece of music.
Regardless of what you choose, the idea is to identify a sensory stimulus that can defuse your stress quickly so that you can respond effectively to your life situation.
As you go through life, you will encounter diverse challenging problems, sometimes, several of them at the same time. It can seem overwhelming at first and impossible to overcome. However, you can learn how to deal with these problems by developing and practicing problem-solving skills.
Step 1: Take a deep breath, step back, and evaluate the situation you have.
What are the problems you are facing?
There are two ways of identifying the problems in a constructive way. It really depends on how you process a situation:
- If you tend to get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of problems, group them into a smaller number of larger categories. Thus, you have succeeded in reducing the number of issues you are facing.
- However, if you are someone who just lump all your problems into one gigantic category that you call “life problems”, then you may need to identify the specific problems so that you can work to resolve them one by one.
Step 2: Take a close look at the problems you have identified and prioritize.
- Which problems are important? As you look at your list of problems, separate the important ones from the trivial ones. You may discover that there are a number of problems that do not really warrant your attention. Strike them off your list!
- Which of the important problems are urgent? As you review your important problems, do the following:
- Decide which ones you should deal with first;
- Amount of time needed to resolve the problems;
- Set up a schedule for addressing each of the problems based on the reality that you can tackle only one or two problems at a time; and
- Start with the problems at the top of your list.
Step 3: Now, as you take on the first problem, establish realistic goals.
Setting realistic goals, i.e. goals that you can actually accomplish, will help you to hone in on the specific solution options. When you place your bar too high, you are likely to be discouraged by your repeated failures to reach them. Rather, you would feel far more encouraged when you are able to meet your realistic goals, one by one.
Step 4: Brainstorm solution options
This is actually the most fun part of the process. When you brainstorm, write down any solutions that pop into your mind. Don’t be held back by their feasibility yet. This is what a brainstorm is all about — the sky is the limit.
Step 5: Weigh pros and cons... and then decide.
Now it’s time to hone in on the best-possible solution options that are feasible. Weigh their pros and cons. If this is an important problem, give yourself sufficient time to reflect upon your decision.
However, if you tend to procrastinate, then set a timeframe for you to come to a decision. By all means, seek the counsel of others to help you to make an informed decision.
Step 6: Break down the implementation of the solution into manageable steps.
Now that you have finished formulating your thoughts, it’s time for action! A good way of ensuring that you implement the solution (as you had conceptualized it) is:
Break down the implementation process into multiple steps.
Then as you complete each step, you can put a check mark next to it, thus allowing you to chart and acknowledge your progress. Knowing that you are moving towards the accomplishment of your goals is an important motivating factor.
To help you with your actual implementation of your solution, here is a sample Action Plan:
Step 7: Evaluate what you have done and identify the lessons learnt.
After you have completed the process and experienced the outcome, take the time to assess how you have done:
- Effectiveness of the strategies;
- Their implementation; and even the
- Rightness of the decision.
Whether you were successful or not, you should consider what you have accomplished to be steps that you are taking towards greater wisdom. With more wisdom and experience (successes and failures), you will do better next time!
Beating the Blues