Life Lessons: Learning to Cope with The “S” Word 4

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The “S’ word is all around us. It seems at times that we can’t go a day without hearing about it – feeling it’s effects or getting caught up in it. It wasn’t as topical 20 years ago – yet it has  always been there – it just seems now it’s on everyone’s mind. The “S” word – yes I’m talking about STRESS! It’s like that pesky neighbour next door who just won’t move away. You can’t eliminate all of the stressors that are creating stress in your life but you can learn how to deal with them.

Stress is not always a bad thing. A little bit of stress can be a very positive and motivating influence in our lives. Stress can help create a sense of urgency and force us to get off the couch. It is only when stress increases beyond our ability to easily cope with it that we begin to feel both the emotional and physical effects of it. (Headaches, inability to concentrate and a rise in our blood pressure) The negative effects of common stressors are cumulative. A series of very mild stress events can create an exceptionally high level of stress if not dealt with effectively. You can learn how to cope.

Three Methods for Coping with Stress 

Your most critical stress issues are those you feel are high priority to change and you are able to change them. Your least critical stress issues are those with a low priority and are very difficult to change. Learn to change what you can, influence what you will and give up on those things that you cannot control. For those stressors you can change, the key is to develop a specific plan of action for creating the change you want, then follow through with that plan. (I know I make it sound simple but it really is that simple) For those stressors you cannot change, the key is to change your response to them. (Mind over matter. If you don’t mind then it doesn’t matter)

Eliminate the stressors or change your response to them 

To accomplish more with our lives and achieve a greater feeling of satisfaction we must reduce or eliminate unproductive stressors in our lives where ever and when ever possible. and improve our ability to cope with those stressors that we cannot eliminate. (You don’t get to pick your relatives or immediate family but you can choose how much time you spend with them) Attitude – your attitude is 100% in your control. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given set of circumstances. Only you get to decide when to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, walk away or simply ignore it all together.

Use the coping resources available to you 

There are a number of social services available to you to help you cope with those major life events like disease, divorce and even death. You don’t have to carry the load yourself. Reach out – it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength.  Hobbies are also a great way to de-stress at the end of the day. Exercising, eating right and sleeping right will also help reduce the ill-effect of stress in your life.

Develop new coping resources

You only know what you know. If what you are currently doing to cope isn’t working, then you need to discover a better way. Read a book, attend a workshop or better yet join a support group. The last thing you should do is sit at home alone with too much time on your hands. The last thing you should do is sit alone at home feeling sorry for yourself. Getting knocked down isn’t the issue, everyone gets knocked down. Not getting back up and doing something about it is. You can learn to deal with the “S” word. It’s 100% in your control. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith is available for speaking engagements, one-on-one coaching sessions and workshops. Contact Brian directly at or visit his site