What's the use thinking about managing stress when you don't know what's causing it? How can you resort to stress relief measures before knowing the reasons behind your stress? Well, identifying the stress triggers is something we often miss. We always think of relieving stress and go for commonly prescribed stress management methods. You can manage stress more effectively when you know what's causing it. Once you have identified your stress triggers, fighting it becomes easier.
Step one, ask yourself what's causing you stress. Carefully watch for situations in which you become stressed or feel anxious. Once you identify what's causing the stress, dealing with it will no longer be difficult. I am stressing (pun unintended) on stress triggers because they are that one thing we often forget about. Think. How many times have you given a serious thought to what's causing you stress? We think of managing stress a million times but hardly think of managing its causes. Yes, more than managing stress, it's important to manage the reasons behind it. More than dealing with stress, it's essential to deal with what's causing it.
Where's the time?
Do you find yourself saying this too often? Well then, your hectic schedule with no time for yourself could be triggering that stress. You want to spend time with your family, you want to meet old friends, you wish to work for a social cause, you want to pursue your hobby, you want to extract time to exercise...plus there's so much work pressure... is it looking like 24 hours are just not enough to do all that you want to? Thinking of doing so many things and not being able to, can cause a lot of stress. Trying to jam-pack all this in an already busy day can also lead to stress, without you even realizing it. To identify this, observe your schedule carefully, see if you are keeping yourself too busy to be able to give even a few minutes to yourself. If so, start giving yourself some time everyday, take some time out to do something you love doing. Learn to manage your time.
...In two minds
Indecisiveness is sure to trigger stress. When in 'to be or not to be' kind of a situation, it is best to find one way out, right or wrong, as being in the state of indecision is more harmful than taking the wrong decision. You can afford taking the wrong decision and facing the consequences, than brooding for days together on what decision to take. Being in two minds is the most common stress trigger that many of us face but fail to identify. We become so engrossed in the process of 'deciding' that we ignore the fact that the decision-making process itself is causing us all the stress. If you are in two minds about something, identify what it is that causing the delay in taking the decision. Identify the factors that are not letting you decide on one thing and try to resolve them at the earliest. Pull yourself out of that indecisive state of mind. First decide to decide, take help if you need to and take the decision, right away. Once you have taken the decision, you will realize your stress has gone. Needless to say, it was because you could identify what was causing it.
What will they think of me...?
This is one stressor that affects us frequently. Fear of what people will think, what others will feel, what someone else will say, keeps bothering us time and again. You must have experienced something similar, haven't you? Sometimes you give too much importance to what 'they' will feel even before you try to understand what 'you' are feeling. The 'they' could be your family, peers or colleagues. Take for instance, you decide to work when others are out, enjoying. At first you decide, then you fear, and then you think of deciding otherwise. You fear what 'others' will think; family pressure, peer pressure, or whatever you call it. A decision taken against someone's wish, or against the norm, can keep troubling you all your life. Following your heart and not the herd, takes courage after all. But if such a decision is going to trigger stress, it is best not taken. And if it already has, it's best to stand by it and be ready to face the consequences. Decide how much importance to give to these 'others'. You need to understand that if you are fully convinced with what you are doing, you needn't take the pressure of 'others'.
Will I be able to...
Do you have butterflies in your stomach at the thought of speaking in public or giving a presentation in office? A little bit of anxiety before the speech or presentation is fine, but too much of it leads to mental stress. If you observe carefully, you will realize, that all the things you are less confident about, give you stress. This 'will I be able to...' feeling is always a stressor. You feel anxious to the extent that you lose even the little courage you had and end up giving a very bad presentation or speech, which further decreases your confidence and increases stress. Try to figure out what's giving you this 'will I be able to do it' feeling. Is it that you are venturing into something you aren't good at? Is it that you are trying your hand at something you have never done before? The best advice, go for it! Don't think too much about whether you will be able to do it, just plunge into it and give it your fullest.
I hate change
Change is the only constant, they say, and so true this is. Not being able to accept change is one of the most common stress triggers in many. Identify if you are also one of those who hate change or lack the adaptability to accept it. Think of all the situations where you have had to accept some form of change, be it a change in your routine, a change of place or change in people. Had you felt stressed on all those occasions, (like moving to a new house, changing your place of work or suddenly having to change your schedule)? If yes, well, you need to change! Break this habit of not accepting changes. Changes are bound to happen; in circumstances, in people around as well as in you. You have to be able to accept them and adapt yourself. Only then, will the triggered stress go away. To identify whether change is your stress trigger, start making small changes to your routine, try changing the pattern of your daily activities to begin with. See if these small changes lead to anxiety, see if you become tense with the idea of having to change. If you do, make deliberate effort to adjust to the change, very small ones to start with. In time, you will find yourself capably adapting to changes and wow, you'll realize you have won over that stress trigger.
Will things be fine...
Lack of hope causes stress. To identify whether you are losing hope too often and feeling stressed due to that, think of situations which make you feel hopeless. Think again, of whether the situation is really so, or is it you who are being too negative. Watch for the next time you feel you have lost hope, and see whether the time was really so tough. Are you unnecessarily thinking of only the worst? Are you panicking with the thought of 'will things be fine'? It could be triggering stress. To get rid of this stressor, stop thinking of the negatives, look at small but good things in whatever you do. Start being more hopeful and more optimistic about life.
I am afraid...
Fear is the biggest stress trigger. Do you have a phobia about something? Think of what triggers that fear in you. It could be the fear of flying or fear of driving; it could be the fear of rejection or the fear of loneliness; it could be the fear of failure or strangely, even a fear of success! Try to identify what you are most afraid of 'coz, it's this fear that's causing all the stress. Once you identify the fear that's stressing you, take measures to get rid of the phobia. Seek medical help or counseling and let go of those fears.
I am sick, I am tired
It's not true that every form of stress is triggered from the mind. There are other reasons like disease and medication which can lead to mental stress. When you are in physical pain or when you are sick, you feel stressed, both physically and mentally. Common cold, body pain, headache, an upset stomach are not very serious, but they do lead to stress. They cause discomfort and make you feel tired and dull. Some illnesses limit your daily activity; for example not being allowed to go out, eat out or being advised bed rest, restricts you in many ways, in turn leading to mental stress. Similarly deficiency of vitamin C and B12 can lead to increased levels of stress. Medications with side effects like upset stomach, increase in acidity and vitamin deficiency can also trigger stress. For example medicines given for diabetes and cholesterol control lead to deficiency of vitamin B12, thus increasing stress levels.
Do I really have a healthy lifestyle?
Ask yourself this question. Think. Are you really leading a healthy lifestyle? Do you have your meals on time? Do you sleep on time? Do you exercise daily? Do you abstain from smoking and alcohol? Do you really live a healthy life? Be true to yourself while answering these questions. If the answer to a majority of them is 'No', then you know what your stress trigger is. Yes, an unhealthy lifestyle.
Once you have identified your stress triggers, you can take the necessary corrective measures and start living a stress-free life. Adopting means to relieve stress without knowing what's causing it, may not be of use. The key to effective stress relief is in identifying what's triggering it. So, find out what's your stress trigger... right now.