How to Adapt to a Stressful Situation
Often when people face a new and stressful situation—a job that’s a bit too challenging, a thorny relationship hurdle that will take a while to sort through, a change in lifestyle that feels like a step down from what they had—they feel overwhelmed at the thought that they may have to deal with this stress for an extended period of time. People who worry about this long-term stress have reason to be concerned: chronic stress, the stress type of stress that is continual and unchanging, can take the heaviest toll. People who face chronic stressors may wonder if things will get easier—if they will adapt.
The good news is that there are things that can be done to mitigate the stress of virtually any situation, even if the situation itself is there to stay for a while. If you are facing a new hurdle, a challenging life situation, or are just wondering if it gets easier and how to speed the process, the following are some stress relief strategies that can help.
Note: If you face a life crisis or overwhelming stressor, these techniques can help significantly, but seeking the help of a professional may be necessary at some point if the stress does not become manageable.
Have The Right Attitude
We can’t always control what we are facing, but we do have a choice in how we face it. We can choose the attitude we take, and whether we face each challenge as a threat or a challenge.
Research shows that viewing something as a challenge helps you to mobilize your resources and bring your “A game” to the situation more easily, while viewing the same situation as a threat can lead to a greater tendency to feel stressed and shut down
If you read about avoidant coping, you can see some of the problems that are associated with shutting down or avoiding your stressor. The following steps can help you to move into a more empowered frame of mind if you need to.
- Understand the Role of Attitude
- Your attitude can help to determine how stressful a situation feels for you, and how you approach your options. In fact, attitude can affect which options you see and do not see, which can also affect your stress levels and the outcome of your actions.
- Examine Your Thought Patterns
- Your thought patterns may feel automatic, but you can choose where your focus lies. To begin to make that choice, it helps to become aware of your habitual thinking patterns. This exercise can help you to see these patterns more clearly and can help you to relieve stress in the process.
- Practice Positive Self-Talk
- Positive self-talk means using more optimistic language in your head, and focusing more on possibilities. It involves more than merely trying to look on the bright side, although that is part of it. Learn the specific areas where you can shift your focus and in the process, alter what is possible for you, and how stressful or stress-free your life feels.
Change What You Can
Sometimes there are certain aspects of a situation you can change, even if you cannot change the situation as a whole. For example, you may, for financial reasons, be unable to quit a job you don’t enjoy, but you can connect with co-workers more, alter your attitude while you’re at work, and use your break time for stress management activities, all of which can alter how you feel when you are at this job. The following steps can help you to make changes where you can and relieve stress as you do.
- Try Solution-Focused Coping
- Solution-focused coping means taking action to change your life where you are able. These changes can be large in scale, or small but targeted. Change itself can bring stress, so it’s important to choose the changes that will matter the most.
- Find and Eliminate Tolerations
- Tolerations are those nagging stressors in your lifestyle that you put up with almost without realizing it, but which bring you constant low-grade stress. The thing about tolerations is that they add up to bigger stress. Cutting out tolerations can bring stress relief so you can tolerate more of the things you can’t change.
- Create a New Life Plan
- Knowing where you want to go, having a plan for the future, can help to minimize stress in the present. Planning changes according to your values and priorities can be helpful and inspiring, even if you can’t bring those plans to fruition for a little while longer.
Build Resilience Through Healthy Habits
If you can’t do any more to change your situation, you can still reduce the stress you feel as you manage your daily life. Certain activities can promote resilience and help you to feel less stressed overall, and less reactive to the stressors you face when they rear their ugly heads. The following are a few resilience-building activities to add to your life—the more they become an automatic habit, the less your stressors will bother you!
- Self Care
- When we are tired, hungry, and run-down, everything feels more stressful, and we have fewer coping resources at our disposal. We tend to react to stress rather than respond to it. We let things snowball. Focus on taking care of your body, and you will have a greater ability to handle frustration and stress in your life overall.
- Exercise is one of those wonderful stress relievers that can build resilience by helping you to blow off steam. Better still, regular exercise can help you to become less reactive toward stress. Because of that and the obvious health benefits of exercise, this is a powerhouse of a stress reliever that should be worked into your schedule when at all possible.
- Meditation can help you to remain centered in the face of stressand can help you to regain a sense of peace when you are feeling off-balance. There are many meditation techniques that work well, so try a few and stick with a favorite technique or two that really feel right. Over time, you should find yourself reacting to stress with less intensity and more able to remain calm and peaceful.
- Positive Attitude
- Maintaining a positive attitude is one thing you can do to make everything in your life feel easier. A positive attitude also helps you to get along better with others (which can lead to greater social support and less conflict) and can help you to remain feeling good, even when things around you are not so great.
All in all, it would be great if we could simply avoid or eliminate the stressors in our lives. Unfortunately, that’s only possible to an extent, and there will be times in life when we are all faced with unpredictable or unavoidable stressors, when we need to rely on resilience. You may not be able to change everything in your life, but these tips can help you to adapt more easily to stressful situations you may face.