Let’s be honest, stress sucks! No one likes to feel tense, worried, and on edge. There’s so much information out there on how to prevent or eliminate stress, but I’ve got news for you; eliminating stress from your life is impossible — stress is just part of life. Stress can actually motivate us to achieve our goals and get things done, but if we don’t channel it in a helpful way it can lead to anxiety, depression, and procrastination.
So, instead of trying to eradicate stress, it’s better to set realistic expectations about stress. You can learn to proactively prevent as much stress as possible and cope with stress when it comes up; however, the best thing you can do for yourself is to accept stress. This is particularly true when stress is unavoidable or due to circumstances out of your control, like experiencing the death of a family member, being diagnosed with a serious illness, or losing your job. In these situations, fighting stress is more difficult and damaging than accepting it, and it can actually cause more stress and prolong the negative effects of the stressor.
Ok, now you’re sold on accepting stress, right? Let’s focus on what it means to “accept” our little faithful friend called stress.
Accepting stress isn’t passive or easy, and it doesn’t mean you are giving up or falling victim to stress.
Accepting stress means:
- Being aware of why you are feeling stressed. This requires being mindful of the moment to acknowledge and understand what’s making you feel stressed.
- Determining whether the stressor is under or beyond your control. This involves digging deep and analyzing the situation that you’re in and being honest with yourself about whether or not it’s something you can change.
- If the stressor is within your control, use your problem solving skills to change things up or try different ways to cope, like setting boundaries at work, exercising more, carving in self-care time, etc.
- If you’ve realized that a stressor is beyond your control, take steps towards accepting the stressor. This is an active process that requires your time and effort.
How to accept stress:
- Stop trying to control the uncontrollable. The urge to control every aspect of your life is a normal human experience; but to fully accept a stressor, you need to release the need to try to control it. Instead, view it as information. What is it telling you?
- Let go. Once you’ve stopped trying to control the stressor, rather than holding on to the negative emotions associated with the stressor, acknowledge how you are feeling, then let the feelings go. Until you let go of the negative thoughts and feelings you have associated with the stressor, you will not be able to truly accept it.
Once you’ve let go of what is holding you back, see if there is anything you can learn from the situation. Even when it seems like there’s no hope, you may just find a silver lining.
All of this is easier said than done. Changing your thoughts and acknowledging your feelings will be tough. The point is to be able to tolerate stress and minimize the negative effects of stress on your well-being. If you need extra support or are interested in learning more about acceptance and mindfulness, call Gramercy at (415) 993-8208 or click here to request a free 15-minute phone consultation.