Charlie Damonsing is a stress management expert who works with both individuals and organisations to reduce stress, improve well-being, increase motivation and raise productivity levels.
In this article, Charlie explores the impact of stress on emotional wellbeing and gives some helpful advice on how to turn stress into a positive force in your life.
The Impact of Stress on Emotional Wellbeing – And How to Deal With it
Stress! There is a lot of it about, and almost every day we see a new story in the media relating to either the causes, onset or impact of stress. In so many areas of life and work, for example, nursing, teaching, sport and finance, people are experiencing the effects of stress on their mental health, emotional wellbeing and overall quality of life.
When stress impacts on you, it can seem overwhelming, leaving you feeling that you don’t know what to do or where to start. It quickly weighs you down.
How to turn stress into something positive
There are two important things to know about stress. Firstly that it is manageable, however unlikely this may seem from where you are now. Secondly, you do not have to put up with it! Debilitating stress is not “just the way life is”, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce it, and this article will show you how.
The trick with stress is to break it down into manageable chunks. Below are a series of steps you can follow to help you discover what is causing your stress and put together an action plan to turn it into something positive.
What is causing your stress?
Let’s initially look at four major aspects of your personal life. Get a pen and paper to jot down notes as you go through these questions. This will help you build up a list of everything that is currently causing your stress:-
Home, family, friends, love-life (the non-work areas of your life)
Home environment – Is anything causing you stress here? Do you have everything you need at home? Is there too much clutter around? Do you have enough space for yourself? Do you have money or health worries? If you have stress related issues in this area note down all relevant details.
Have a look at your close relationships with family, friends and romantic partner – Is each relationship supporting you? Are you trying to support too many people? Do you spend time with people who drain you? Identify the relationships that are causing you to feel stressed or are not working for you.
Work–Now let’s move on and consider what you spend your time doing on a daily basis and any related stress you experience. Consider your job, your business if you are self-employed, or a voluntary or caring role – and answer any of the following questions that are relevant:
- Is your workload reasonable, and are you sufficiently trained to do your job?
- Do you get enough support from your manager, colleagues, IT and the systems you use?
- Are you informed well about changes made at work?
- Do you understand exactly what is required of you at work?
- Do you have good relationships within your workplace, with managers, colleagues and customers?
- Do you have enough control over what you do at work?
- If you support others emotionally and / or physically as part of your day to day role, do you feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities you have?
Use the questions above as a guide, and note down any other aspects of your working or day to day life that are causing you stress.
Two additional areas to consider are:
Thoughts and attitudes – Your own thoughts can sometimes work against you and cause you stress. Negative self-talk is a common example. Do you catch yourself saying “You are useless, hopeless, not good enough?” Are you a perfectionist always pushing yourself to do more and never being good enough? Examine your thoughts and attitudes, are there any which are unhelpful, negative and causing you stress?
Lifestyle – Your choices about what you eat, drink and do can sometimes work against you. Eating unhealthy food, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, not taking exercise or getting enough sleep can all cause stress. How might your lifestyle be adding to your stress? (be honest here!)
Find some quick wins to help beat stress
In working your way through the above questions, there will be some points which jump out at you as things you can change right now. Perhaps tidying up some clutter, sorting out a problem at work, saying “no” to more commitments, making time for a massage this week? Where you can some see some quick wins, commit to doing them this week.
Taking action like this will start to build up your momentum and confidence, which will give you a feeling of more control and less stress.
Longer term changes
From this more confident mind-set start looking at the remaining things which are causing you stress, these may require more long term actions. When it comes to dealing with a cause of stress there are four things you can do.
Change the situation:-
- Avoid – can you simply avoid the cause of stress? If trying to do the weekly shopping causes you stress, can you avoid it and shop on-line instead?
- Alter – if you can’t avoid it, can you alter the cause? Perhaps there are too many meetings at work – could you suggest monthly instead of weekly meetings? If you are being treated unfairly at work by a colleague, could you speak to them directly, or talk to your manager/HR in confidence, in order to try and resolve the problem?
Change your reaction:-
- Adapt – ask yourself, what can you do to adapt to the cause of stress? Does your daily commute cause you stress? Can you set-off an hour earlier or later to miss the worst times?
- Accept – once you have been through the other three options above, you may need to positively accept some situations. For example, if your teenage children are causing you stress, put in place all that you can from the “avoid, alter, adapt” questions above. After that you may need to accept that your children will not be teenagers forever! For the next few years it might be better for you to positively accept the situation rather than battle against it, which may just make life more stressful for you.
Using the steps outlined above, I firmly believe stress is solvable, and there is always something you can do. Go through each of the causes of your stress and ask yourself “What can I do to change the situation?” and “How can I change my reaction to it?”
If you require support in dealing with stress, then please contact me for a no obligation chat to find out more about how I work and how I can help you. Call me on 0771 559 6487 or e-mail me.
To access a free e-course “7 Steps to Sort Out Your Stress” please visit www.everythingstresscourse.co.uk. You will receive a series of e-mails packed full of information, questions and techniques on how to deal with stress.
For further information about Charlie’s work with individuals and organisations, please refer to the following links below.
- Organisations: CL Associates
- Individuals: Everything Stress