The Coronavirus is affecting everyone, and with it brings stress: concern for health and safety, loss of work, shift in school, change of routine, uncertainty about the future, grief in relationships…I don’t have to go on. How do you deal with stress? In this blog post, we’ll lay out four suggestions for how to effectively manage stress.
This is an important skill to have, not only in these days of pandemic, but for everyday stress as well. Let's look at four words—Reality, Root, Results, and Relief—to find ways to deal with stress in a healthy way.
Goal: awaken to the reality of your stress
An important part of managing stress is becoming aware of your stress. Becoming aware of your stress requires self-awareness. You will become personally aware—or someone will point it out to you—that something is affecting you:
Case Study: A few days ago, I noticed I was snappy at my family, which wasn’t like me. That made me aware that something was going on with me, so I started to explore what was stressing me out.
Goal: identify the root of your stress
Once you’re aware of the current, pressing stress, you get curious: “What has caused this anxiety? What am I stressed about?” As you ask, don’t settle for the first answer. I’ve found that while the first answer will get me on the right track, it’s rarely the real root of my anxiety.
Imagine yourself digging a tunnel and with each dig, you burrow deeper in and more narrowly. This question process should go deeper and narrower, in search for the real root. It is through this commitment to the truth that you will find the answer. Your effective management of stress is connected to identifying the correct cause of stress.
Case Study: My search went like this (The exact questions don’t matter as much as the inquiry process itself):
Goal: inventory the effects of your anxiety
After you’ve become aware of your stress and identified the cause—which by the way, may take some time—then you want to look at the results. What has your anxiety produced? This step may overlap with the Reality step because it’s sometimes the results of our stress that make us aware that it’s there.
Here you want to take account of what your stress has caused. What are the consequences? For example:
This is helpful because it will strengthen your resolve to manage your stress effectively. You will start to see the damage that unresolved stress is causing, which will help you move to the next step.
Case Study: So, when I inventoried the effects: irritability with family, inward rebelliousness toward public crisis recommendations, sense of hopelessness
Goal: find healthy relief from your stress
Getting here means you have become aware of your stress, identified the root, and inventoried the effects of your stress. This may happen quickly or may take more time, but either way, it’s worth the process so you don’t achieve shallow, short-lived relief that doesn’t really help.
Here you want to be purposeful. Think about what you’ve learned and decide on an action that will bring you relief. This may not solve the entire problem, but it will help you care for yourself. Stress must go somewhere. Design an action that helps you.
Case Study: I talked with my wife about my need for independence and how this crisis is rubbing against that (sometimes stress comes because of something pressing against our values). I looked for ways to exert my independence in meaningful ways.
Every day brings opportunities for stress. What will you do with it? Try our four suggestions.
Are you suddenly a remote worker? Are you struggling to feel engaged? We recorded a webinar on employee engagement tips for remote workers.
Are you looking to faith in these challenging times? For those who are, we created a daily email series. Join our 21 days of prayer series to focus on peace and not panic.
Are you wondering how your Enneagram type deals with stress? I was a guest recently on "The Stressless Entepreneur" podcast. Listen to the show.