It makes me so angry!

I’m driving down the road, minding my own business, when some yobbo decides to cut me off just before the passing lane ends. Then, once they are in front of me, they slow down to 10km below the speed I was originally driving at and there is no way to pass them for ages. This is the sort of person who causes road rage in people with anger management issues.

Or I’m waiting patiently at the counter to order lunch or some bread from the bakery. There isn’t any line but I am definitely next. Off to my left, a person approaches who has just walked into the shop. As the server turns from finishing up with the person in front of me and calls ‘next!’, Mr Line-Cutter steps up as bold as you please and says, “I’m next.” Good thing I’m not a violent person…

Then there are the times when you are at work and feeling really productive. You’ve been ploughing through your jobs like a hot knife through butter and if you could just have a few more hours without any interruptions, you know you will get on top of it all before too long. The phone rings and it’s your manager wanting you to drop everything and take on something new. Of course, nobody else is available to finish all of the tasks you already have so in 5 minutes flat, you’ve gone from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel to drowning – not waving.

Go from Panic to Peace

It is really important to know the sorts of things that ‘push your buttons’ so you can work out ways to go from super-stressed to calm, cool and collected as quickly as possible.

We will always find ourselves in situations that increase our stress levels – it’s just part of life. But how we deal with those times will determine whether the experience is positive or negative; whether we use that stress to increase our energy and productivity or whether it makes us sick and angry.

Here is a way to help start yourself on the right track when it comes to dealing with stress and giving yourself the tools to help overcome any issues that may arise.

For 2 weeks, keep a stress diary. Carry a notebook and pen with you at all times. A small book that will fit into your pocket or handbag would probably be best.

Every time something raises your stress levels, write it down. It can be as simple as – opened fridge and out of milk. Just make a note and move on.

If you found a way to reduce your stress at the time you experienced it, write that down too. For example – took 5 deep breaths and asked the children nicely to please let me know when the milk was getting low in future.

At the end of 2 weeks, take out the notebook and read through all of the stressors and all of the solutions. There will be some stressful situations where you didn’t think of a solution at the time. Try to work out how you might have handled the situation differently and write a list of possible strategies that could have been useful.

The simple act of reviewing these issues and working through ways to deal with them is great practice for future stressful times.

If you feel that this stress diary is useful, keep it for another 2 weeks – or more. There is no limit.

You will find that by doing this – even for a very short time – you will find ways you’d never thought of to manage and reduce stress in your life. Such a simple tool for such a great result.

Of course, to increase your knowledge of how to manage stress, I can’t speak highly enough about Dr Judy Hinwood’s fantastic book, Stress to Strength: Mind Tools to Calm, Connect and Create.

By Wynn Grossman
For the Stress to Strength Team

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