Stress is a normal part of life.
You can’t take it away, but you can manage it.
However, left unchecked, it can drive you towards poor mental health.
So it’s useful to know how stress can end up impacting your life. How you can go from “I’m busy”...
to “I’m stressed”...
...to “I can’t cope”.
It’s all about how we navigate the stress. When we’re in a good place, we look for evidence against negative thoughts – reasons why they won’t come true.
But when we’re overly stressed, we can look for evidence supporting negative thoughts, and take them more seriously than we’d like.
So why are some people better at riding out stress than others?
A lot of it is about our internal dialogue.
Some people will think, ‘I’ve been through things like this before. It was okay then so it’ll be okay now.’ But others will think, ‘I can’t do this, it’s all going to go wrong’ and let the stress get the better of them.
This is what happens when we face a situation...
...we think we don’t have the resources to handle.
But even in the most extreme situations...
...we can surprise ourselves with the resources we have available.
Because handling stress can often be a case of interpreting it a certain way. Think about it like this. You’re driving on the motorway and there are roadworks ahead.
There’s a queue of traffic where the lanes merge...
...so you get in the right lane and join the queue. But as you’re inching your way forward, another car comes up beside you and tries to cut in front.
How do you react? Do you get angry? Shout, swear and try to close the gap so they can’t get in?
If so, you’ve become stressed. And given the other driver control over your emotions.
Or do you decide to take the high road? Shrug it off, smile and let them in.
You might get past the roadworks half a minute later, but you’ll be a whole lot more relaxed.
So remember, knowing how to navigate stress...
...is the best way to avoid it.
And if you want to improve your resilience to stressful situations, watch module 3.
Mental Health Awareness and Resilience.