Stress is the negative whirlwind of emotions that gets imposed on top of our stimulation and engagement.

Andrew J. Bernstein

We continue our conversation this week about Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress. This week we move to Situational Stress that some people feel they have absolutely no control over. It can be a very scary experience for some people. We will discuss how to better manage the common pressures that result from being in this stressed state.

The situations we can find ourselves in are often conflict related. Many people find confrontation at whatever level, a stressful thing and will do anything to avoid it. A common outcome is stress builds for the receiver if they choose to take the role of a “door mat”. The other side of the coin is to recognise that ‘confrontation is a necessary conversation’ in life. Once we adopt this position, the bullies and similar minded people you interact with tend to leave you alone and go and seek easier pickings.

Other things like making a major mistake in front of your work team or a social group you spend time with are examples of events that can cause situational stress. The more self-aware you are of your reaction in a situation like this, the easier it is to handle your stress around it. Taking immediate ownership of your role in the situation often brings you friends you never knew existed. It is amazing how often others will come to your support as they almost made the same mistake in the situation and they really feel for you and want to support you.

In meetings where a calm discussion all of a sudden breaks into a shouting match, can bring about an immediate surge in anxiety for you. You start sweating profusely, your stomach knots and you may feel bloated. You withdraw and are not sure what to do or say. Your automatic response maybe to feel a surge of anxiety. If someone asks for your input, you have a difficult time knowing what to say. A knowledge of conflict resolution skills is of great assistance here.

We all react to situational stress differently, and it’s important that you understand whether it’s physical or emotional reaction that you respond to in the most part. Thinking on your feet, taking a deep breath, or retiring to the washroom for a few minutes to compose yourself, all give you an opportunity to be calm for a short period of time allows you to re-direct your considered response.

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