We can all take comfort in knowing that, while life can be inherently stressful, there are strategies and practices that can reduce the impact of stress, even if we cannot change the situation.
Learning to use stress as a catalyst for growth isn’t always easy, but it is doable, one small step at a time.
Here are three ways to foster monumental growth from stressful situations:
1. Practice an attitude of gratitude.
We can’t always control outside circumstances, but we do have a choice in how we respond.
When we choose an attitude of gratitude, we take back our control and consequently feel more empowered, motivated, and inspired to forge our own path and improve the lives of ourselves and those around us.
Our outlook is what determines how stressful a situation feels, how we respond, and whether or not we think we have a choice.
So decide your unique approach to life, as it is our own individual perception which creates our unique reality and subsequent happiness or suffering.
That’s one of the reasons why an attitude of gratitude can rapidly impact which options we believe are available to us, and which are not.
If we aren’t grateful for what we have, why would we appreciate more?
Here are some ideas to inspire more gratitude:
- Start a gratitude journal. Try writing down three things at the end of each day for which you are grateful. Once you condition your mind to see situations through the lens of appreciation, it becomes easier to identify opportunities for growth.
- Help others and be part of something bigger than yourself. Whether it’s through volunteer work, championing a cause, or whatever else allows you to serve and create joy, do what inspires you to feel more appreciative of the power to affect your world in positive ways.
- Practice acceptance of yourself and others. Start to view self-acceptance as something to be nurtured and grown. The more that we bring this skill into our day-to-day lives, the more it becomes a habit and ultimately, a new reality.
2. Take responsibility for your own feelings.
No one can make you feel anything. It sounds trite, but it’s true.
Yes, other people may do things that are upsetting, and it’s completely natural to feel bothered when they do, but it’s our perceptions and beliefs that create feelings such as frustration, stress, anger, or inferiority.
It’s liberating to realize that how we deal with circumstances is essentially our own choice; we cannot control the actions of others, but we can change our response from one of frantic stress to that of calm acceptance.
For example, if something makes you angry, notice the feeling while letting go of any assumptions or judgments.
Then take a step back in your mind, and look at the situation objectively without labeling it right or wrong, or good or bad.
Notice how the situation is not the same thing as the emotion; the emotion is yours and yours alone.
Then let the emotion go.
Building this strong foundation of self-awareness can help us to better identify our needs and feelings even in the most stressful situations, which in turn enables us to be more resilient through all of life’s challenges and paves the way for better choices in the long run.
Emotions are a feeling, not necessarily the truth.
3. Develop solution-focused coping methods.
Solution-focused coping methods emphasize finding a resolution to situational stressors. Essentially you begin the process by changing what you can, and letting the rest go as much as possible.
Often there’s nothing that you can do to change a situation, but when you look closer, there is usually an opportunity to take action and affect what happens next.
These types of coping methods can be very effective for stress relief; often a small change is all that’s required to make a huge shift in how you feel.
Working out strategies to cope with daily stressors can help to transform a life fraught with stress and anxiety to one that is interesting and enjoyable.
One example that has increased my own happiness and peace of mind is coping with a large and varied workload.
I’ve learned that what’s most important for me is to be a clear and consistent communicator, which helps when juggling multiple deadlines and projects. And it’s increased my overall effectiveness as a writer and as a person.
And one last note: it’s completely OK and healthy to cut yourself some slack as you practice these approaches to stress. We are all doing the best that we can in any given situation.
You are worthwhile, worthy of respect, and deserve great kindness.
With great love and gratitude,
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