Choosing Your Response Will Reduce Your Stress
In today’s challenging times, it seems like we’re getting overloaded with uncertainty. There’s always something new, bigger, better, faster, cheaper or trendier. Here today, gone tomorrow – or, at the least, very different tomorrow. This can apply to products, services, training, methods, people, etc.
Uncertainty brings stress and confusion, and while most of us would like less stress and more certainty in our lives, what we really want is less of a stress reaction to what life is throwing our way.
We can’t choose what happens to us – but we can choose our responses to the situations we face each day.
There are five different responses that people have to stressful situations. I want you to think of a recent stressful event or news that you may have received. As you read through these five responses, see what your reaction to that event can teach you about how you habitually respond.
- The first and unfortunately all too common response to stressful events is to suffer and be a victim to it.
People who respond this way don’t take action. Things happen TO them – and though they may complain and be generally miserable about it, they don’t take any steps to do anything. They allow life to control them, instead of the other way around. I would not recommend this response as eventually it will take its toll on one’s physical and mental health.
- The second type of response is to accept it the situation, and to get some perspective on it.
Someone with this response may say “so what,” or perhaps get some perspective on the situation by asking if it will it matter in a year – or a week – or even in a day.
- The third way to respond is to actually take steps to change the situation.
Taking action to bring it to resolution (or at least move toward resolution). This is a very powerful response, and one that many effective leaders employ.
- The fourth way to respond is to avoid the situation.
People responding this way make a decision not to get involved in a situation that they don’t see as concerning them, or upon which they can’t make an impact. For example, someone may choose not to get involved in a dispute going on within their office if it doesn’t directly involve them.
- The fifth and final way that people generally respond to stress is to alter the experience of the situation.
When we look at a situation differently, the experience itself changes. Changing perceptions is probably the most challenging of the responses, because we tend to be stuck in our own interpretations and assumptions about what’s happening, but it is also perhaps the most powerful of all.
You may have one type of response at work, and another at home, or you may react differently depending on whom else is involved. It’s worth noting and being aware of for future reference.
It’s your world, and you can create it as you wish. Remember, what one person sees as stressful, another person barely notices, or sees as exciting and full of opportunity.
What response are you going to choose today?