You hear a lot about stress management in this new millennium. It seems as though, ever since the year 2000 broke across the globe, there has been an increasing demand for someone to find a magic wand that would produce total stress management.
Stress management and stressors go together, however, and those who discuss one without the other are looking at only one piece of the problem. Stress management and stressors are locked in a fierce battle, and you stand to win or lose in that battle. Through positive use of skills, you can manage stress, but you must deal with stressors to do so.
Stressors might be defined as those things or situations that make unusual demands on our bodies, minds, emotions, or spirits. Stressors may make unusually large demands or unusually small demands. Stressors do not harm us; stressors do not cause stress. Stressors are things such as:
- an argument with a spouse
- arriving at work late
- a traffic jam that slows your lane to a crawl
- a call from the credit card company
- losing a vital file on your computer
None of these things does actual harm to us. They are like taxes. They may make unusual demands, but they do not hurt you.
Those who personally excel at stress management know that such management begins before stress is activated. “Activated” is the proper term, because stress is a response – an action.
Remember that stressors do not cause stress. Stress is a response you choose to make when faced with a stressor. You may choose a positive response or a negative response. Either way, you will activate some form of stress. Either way, you will need stress management after your response.
Proactive Stress Management
Proactive stress management does not wait for stress to be activated. Those who practice proactive stress management learn to watch for stressors as you would watch for an enemy. When they see one approaching, they may use any one of several actions.
They may step aside, if possible, and let the stressor pass them. This type of proactive stress management could be employed if one senses an argument arising. Defuse the argument instead of insisting on your own rights, and you have successful stress management.
Proactive stress management may require that you put in place a line of delegation. When a stressor comes at you in the form of too much work and too little time, delegate the surplus and you have effective stress management.
Stress management and stressors are both part of the same package. The big thing to remember is that stress is your response to stressors. Control your response and manage stress proactively – before it is activated.