Dealing with Stress
We all feel pressure as part of our daily lives, however it’s important to manage this pressure of life.
Pressure starts to trigger our stress hormones and when this pressure is not addressed, it can start to take over our lives. Failing to manage stress, can lead to more serious mental health issues in the long term, such as depression and anxiety.
Whether you like it or not, stress or pressure is a useful and powerful force.
It motivates us and drives us forward, it allows us to get into work on time, meet deadlines, or to get results.
But do we recognise Stress or rather excessive stress correctly? Stress exists in multiple forms, these include.
Physical stress, the most typical stress encountered by not looking after ourselves and burning the candle at both ends. Poor diet, lack of routine, illness and lack of sleep are key factors too, that feeling of being physically stressed and can make dealing with day to day life that little bit harder.
Environmental stress, such as those dictated by poor surroundings, isolation, unemployment, and adjusting to change can all heighten environmental stressors.
Emotional stress can be brought on by relationship problems, external pressures relating to safety and belonging, family and cultural disagreements as well as conflicting values and beliefs.
Acute life events can be triggered by more severe circumstances such as bereavement, illness, a shocking event such as an accident, fighting, criminal incident, assault, pregnancy, childbirth, or a pandemic.
Chronic stress which can be brought on by more long-term problems such as homelessness, money problems (debt) and prolonged use of drugs and alcohol.
So now that we understand a bit more about pressures and stresses of life, the next step, is to better understand the different coping styles or mechanisms and what methods we can use to deal with life’s difficulties.
Some methods are considered more effective than others and some work better than others for some people, everything with regards to support is individual to the person affected.
It’s been found that people who use effective coping skills and create their own ‘tool kit’ seem to deal with stress better than others who don’t.
The Circle of Control, Influence & Concern
Created by Stephen Covey, author of international bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” this coping strategy has been developed over the years to look at the energy individuals put in to everyday life, which either focuses on positive emotions and outcomes or negative emotions and outcomes.
The diagram is made up of three circles, The circle of control, of influence and circle of concern.
The circle of concern includes things such as government, the planet and the environment, the economy, cultures, the bank and/or large organisations controlling the global marketplace (for example: Google, Facebook, Amazon).
This list will differ, depending on the individual. In the circle of concern it is important to recognise that although you may have certain emotions towards these aspects, there is little you can do about many of them as that are outside your circle of influence. It could be considered that in doing so is a waste of time and your energy. A classic example of this would be road rage, where all you have done is been reactive and let your emotions govern you, thus wasting time and energy. Very often there is nothing we can do in the circle of concern, other than to watch events unfold.
Next, is your circle of influence, this circle is smaller than the circle of concern and is representative of the number of things you can influence, versus what you are concerned about. Examples of what goes here would be your MP, family and friends, actions and behaviours of others, other people’s thoughts and opinions, your reputation, and the future. It’s more important to focus your energy on what you can influence versus what you are concerned over. But again, as the name implies, the best we can hope for here is a guiding hand or some advice in the right place.
The most important area and the one to really focus on, is your circle of control, this circle is smaller still and features those areas in your life that you truly have an effect over. Examples include your thoughts, actions, behaviours, and reactions as well as the decisions you make, your attitude and mindset and your mood.
This tool has been a great asset for building stress resilience and coping with day to day life.
When feeling ‘out of control’ this tool can be used to assess your thoughts, what is in my circle of control? and what is in my circle of influence? Anything outside of these circles, is not worth devoting time, energy, or emotion to. For example: Things you can’t affect such as international policy or what the weather will be on Thursday is outside our of circle of control and influence and doesn’t need the same level of thought and energy thrown at it.
This is just one example of a coping mechanism and a way of dealing with day to day pressures and stress. We hope you find it helpful. Let us know in the comments your thoughts and what coping mechanisms you find useful.