Brenda Nicholson

How to Manage Your Stress Levels When You Have No Control Over the Situation

All of us experience stress at one time or another.

More so than people in other countries, Americans suffer from excess stress. It’s part of our overwork ethic. We pride ourselves on being constantly busy and stressed.

As a result, we suffer more from life-threatening stress-related illnesses.

But how do you dial the stress down when you have no control over the situation?

Studies have shown that if you experience a stressful event, it affects your entire day. Your brain loses its ability to counteract negative thought patterns once your anxiety level is raised. You can’t change your thoughts or think positive ones.

Your brain literally cannot do it.

To salvage the situation, you need to use methods that don’t utilize that part of your brain.

In the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Srini Pillay recommends “emotional introspection,” or simply letting your thoughts pass by without judgment or engagement. Observe them and let them go. He suggests focusing on your breathing instead.

Dr. Pillay also acknowledges that this is easier said than done.

But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I also like The Work by Byron Katie. Four questions help you sort out the craziness of your thoughts from the truth. They bring me back from the edge when my thoughts are out of control.

Most of the time, we cannot change what is stressing us.

The most we can do is find ways to help change the way we react (or don’t react) to it.

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