I had a realization today. For all the time, relationship, career and life-management books I've read, I continue to feel stressed out at times, and gasp! have a bad day every now and then. I've studied methods for organizing, communicating, strategizing and you know what? Stress still happens. I realized I've been directing my focus in the wrong direction: the goal is not so much to eliminate stress forever (this would surely be a futile task) but to recognize it when it shows up and actually do something about it. My internal dialogue goes something like this: Wow - icky stress feeling where my stomach is churning and I can't figure out why; I must be stressed! Where is this coming from? And most importantly, what am I going to do in the face of it? I can either take it out on everyone around me like a contagious flu or recognize that it's there and develop some coping mechanisms. There are many stress reduction techniques out there; here are a few small things I do that make a big difference: 1. Recognize that it is there (This is usually the hardest part) 2. Breathe! Take at least three deep breaths in a row. 3. Walk: Get some fresh air - take a five minute walk alone or with a friend (employ the breathing tecniques here if you can) 4. Write: Spend five minutes making a list of everything you can that is stressful. It's okay if you don't do anything about it right away. 5. Forgive: Be forgiving with yourself. Don't multiply the stress by feeling bad or upset that it's there in the first place. Give yourself credit for all the positive things you're doing and remember that in the grand scheme of things, life will work itself out.
The point is, stress happens. It happens to the best of us. So when it does, be prepared to fight back! It's not whether you get stressed that matters, it's what you do about it when it shows up.