Stressed out? Two strategies to take control!

May 26, 2015

Stressed out? Two strategies to take control!

If you are like me you may have asked yourself – “It is the end of May already? When did that happen?” This thought may have caused some feelings of stress and anxiety.

For better or worse, we all have to deal with stress in our lives. I set out to discover strategies on how to handle stress so that I can balance growing a business with everything else in my life.

A website that I would recommend reading is called the Six myths about stress by the American Psychological Association (APA). Their section on stress is fantastic, and this article is a quick and fun read that breaks down some misconceptions about stress.

Myth 3 was the most encouraging: Stress is everywhere, so you can’t do anything about it.

“Not so. You can plan your life so that stress does not overwhelm you. Effective planning involves setting priorities and working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties. When stress is mismanaged, it’s difficult to prioritize. All your problems seem to be equal and stress seems to be everywhere.”

It is my strong belief that we use our decisions to build the life that we want. Along with the APA, I believe that effective planning is helpful to managing our stress, but I want to develop more detailed strategies.

An interesting report from the Government of Canada, called Best Advice on Stress Risk Management in the Workplace, references research that breaks down the stress that we experience in four parts:

  • High Job Pressure: having too much to do over too long a period with constant imposed deadlines.
  • Low Job Control: having too little influence over the day-to-day organization of your own work.
  • Home Stress: the sum of cumulative demands, challenges and changes experienced on the home front.
  • Social Support: having at least one person who can be relied on for emotional support during times of distress or unhappiness.”

The combination of high pressure, low control and home stress without social support can lead to many undesirable outcomes like injury, disease and substance abuse. Therefore, to minimize your stress, you could look to reducing your job pressure, increasing your job control, reducing your home stress and increasing your social support.

Reflecting on my own stress, there are two strategies I use.

Strategy 1: Reflect on the demands that you are putting on yourself.

I take my strategic planning and daily to-do lists one step further. After completing my lists, I take a moment to reflect on the total demands that I am putting on myself. With owning my business, I do not have to worry about low job control. Instead, my attention is focused on how to balance work and responsibilities at home. After reflection, I use strategy 2.

Strategy 2: Seek out social support and ask for help when needed.

I try to outsource or automate any activity that makes sense. In addition, I seek out support in other ways. Since the beginning of the year, I am facilitating a Mastermind group that has been great in proposing interesting ways to solve problems, cheering on my successes and providing encouragement when times are rougher. Mentoring is found greatly beneficial – the need for support was vastly underestimated when I first started my business. Since then, I looked and accepted support, and as a result my business and my life are more balanced.

I hope you enjoyed this discussion on stress. Please share your thoughts on these strategies, I would love to hear from you!

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Ada Barlatt

Ada Y. Barlatt, PhD is a Life Engineer and Founder of Sumptu. Sumptu is a six step decision making process. If you are worrying about a decision, Sumptu is for you! Using her ‘engineering meets personal development approach’ Ada empowers you to find clarity and move forward. Follow Ada on Twitter, @ada_barlatt.