Popular stress relief tools include meditation, prayer, exercise, being out in nature and other more reactive ways of managing and relieving stress. But today I wanted to share a different approach to reducing and relieving stress where you may very well eliminate some stress altogether.
To do this, I wanted to share a little bit about a process our brains go through when we experience a potential stressor. When we perceive a potential stressor, we go through an appraisal process where we try to interpret the situation and to determine how we’ll respond. We frequently get a couple of things wrong during this appraisal process that only leads to us experiencing more stress.
1. We tend to overestimate the severity of the situation, the permanence of it, and the likelihood of it even happening.
2. We underestimate our ability to cope. We underestimate how resilient, and resourceful we are, and just how capable we are to handle whatever life is throwing at us. The pandemic probably illustrated this for you in many ways.
To cope, we use two coping methods:
1. Problem Focused: Roll up our sleeves and dive in to address the stressor: Examples: -Study for an exam or work on a project due at work.
2. Emotion Focused Coping: These are things I mentioned earlier such as meditation, prayer, and exercise. Things that we can do to make us feel better, and move us into a more helpful, positive state.
The science based strategy I share with you today to relieve stress can possibly eliminate the stress altogether. And that approach is to CHALLENGE those appraisals mentioned earlier.
Remember, we get it wrong a lot in those appraisals. We over and under estimate things that only make the situation worse.
So Ask Yourself: Am I looking at this in a realistic way? Am I looking at this in a helpful way? Do I even need to worry about this at all? If so, challenge your original interpretation on how severe it is. How permanent it is. How indeed capable you are at handling it.
How we perceive stress largely effects how we relieve and reduce it. So being aware of this appraisal process, and learning to challenge it in a positive way can help you manage, control, and possibly eliminate some stress altogether.
I hope you find this approach helpful to relieve and reduce stress in your life! :)