“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” ― Steve Maraboli
You need to manage your stress. Or else you will get little or no relief from it. We all have stress in our lives. And with the right kind of remedy. We can get relief from it.
Your stress should not be too high or too low. Just enough to motivate you. Any more or less of it will cause problems. Make you unhappy. And stop you from achieving your goals.
Use this checklist to diagnose your stress. It will help you to understand how it works. How it affects you. How well you handle it. What stress problems you need to solve. And how to get relief from it.
Albrecht (1979) tells us there are four common types of stress. These are: time stress, anticipatory stress, situational stress, and encounter stress. This checklist explores each of these types of stress. To help you understand them. To find how you fare on each of them. And how to deal with problems arising from them.
Time stress diagnosis
☐ Identify which of these statements are true for you. 1. There isn’t enough time in the day to do everything I need to do. 2. I have less flexible time than I need. 3. I worry about the lack of time I have. 4. I worry about the number of things I have to do. 5. I am afraid that I’ll fail to do something important. 6. My failure to get things done leaves me feeling trapped, unhappy and hopeless.
☐ Is one or more of these statements true of you? If yes then you need to work on reducing the stress that time causes for you.
What you can do about time stress
☐ Update your time management skills. The better you become at managing your time. The less stress you will experience.
☐ Identify your important tasks. The ones that will help you to achieve your goals. Working on these is the best use of your time. Give them priority over everything else.
☐ Use to-do lists to schedule what you need to do on these tasks. Have one for each of them. And use them to organise your life.
Anticipatory stress diagnosis
☐ How many of these statements apply to you. 1. I have an overall sense of dread about the future. 2. I worry about specific future events like bankruptcy, sickness and death. 2. I worry about things that might happen in the future. 3. I worry about all the things I can’t control. 4. I make future problems bigger than they are. 5. I think that the worst things will happen. 6. I use the present to stress about the future. 7. The challenge of life’s unknowns gets me down.
☐ If one or more of these statements are true about you. Then you need to get better at dealing with the future. And stop getting stressed about it.
What you can do about anticipatory stress
☐ Because this stress is based on the future. You need to begin by thinking that the event you are dreading works out much better in practice than you imagine. Which it always does. So calm down and let yourself dwell on this better outcome and what it feels like. Think of yourself handling it well. Being in control and calm in yourself.
☐ You can expect to find this difficult at first. But with practice you can train yourself to see these events more realistically. And doing so will leave you feeling more grounded and in control of your life.
☐ Use meditation to learn how to focus on what is happening now. Not the future. Spending five minutes a day on breathing or relaxing your muscles will help you to do this.
☐ Prepare well for upcoming events. Like talks you have to give. Meetings you have to attend. Or assignments you have to undertake. This will reduce your personal fears and ease your stress.
☐ If you are worried about something. Identify all possible outcomes. Plan what you will do if things don’t go as well as you would like. This will give you a clearer idea of what could happen.
Situational stress diagnosis
☐ Do any of these statements apply to you. 1. I get into some scary situations I have no control over. 2. Emergencies upset me. 3. I dislike conflict situations. 4. Losing face is the worst thing that could happen to me. 5. The thought of making a major mistake is unbearable. 6. Any loss of acceptance by people I respect is stressful.
☐ If one or more of these statements is true about you. Then you need to learn how to cope with situational stress.
What you can do about situational stress
☐ Learn to pick-up the physical and emotion signals of stress. Like surges of anxiety and knots in your tummy. And to view them as cues to calm down, think and take remedial action.
☐ Since conflict is stressful you need to learn how to resolve it. You will then be able to handle conflict situations with little or no stress.
☐ Learn how to manage conflict in meetings and group situations. It is different that one-to-one conflict. And you need to be able to deal with both.
☐ If you tend to withdraw emotionally. Then you need to learn to think on your feet. And communicate clearly in these situations.
☐ If you tend to get angry and shout. Then you need to learn how to manage your emotions.
Encounter stress diagnosis
☐ Which of the following statements apply to you? 1. I worry about interacting with certain types of people. 2. I am uncomfortable with people I don’t like. 3. I don’t like dealing with people who are unpredictable. 4. I feel bad and stressed out when I have to deal with people who are in distress. 5. I dislike having to deal with people of the opposite sex. 6. I’m okay one-on-one but dealing with groups of people puts me under stress.
☐ If one or more of these statements is true about you. Then you need to learn how to cope encounter stress.
What you can do about encounter stress.
☐ Improve your people management skills. The more skillful you are in dealing with people the less stress you will experience.
☐ Develop a greater sense of emotional intelligence. It will help you to recognise your emotions, needs and wants and those of other people. It will help you to interact better with others and to build good relationships with them.
☐ Work at learning to experience more empathy with others. It will enable you to see the situation from other people’s point of view. Which will allow you deal with their feelings, wants and needs.
☐ Learn how to negotiate win/win outcomes with other individuals. It will help you to clarify what you want and what they want from the situation. And to develop solutions that will meet both of your needs.
Managing the stress in your life
☐ Identify which of the four issues you need to work on. You may need to work on more than one of them. In fact many of us need to work on all four of them. Since working on all four at the one time will overload your schedule. You should work on just one of them at a time.
☐ Select the one you have the least problems with to begin with. This is a strength and it makes sense to build on it. The better you become at it the less stress you will experience with it. And you can use what you learn from mastering it to work on the others. Leave the most difficult one to the end. For when you have dealt with the others you will be better able to deal with it.