Identifying And Managing Stressors – Setting Limits

Part of a good Stress Management plan simply involves identifying the areas of stress in an individual’s life. Taking an objective look at circumstances and situations that may seem unmanageable, can be a helpful first step in dealing with stress. Once the areas that are causing the most stress have been identified, a plan to reduce the level of stress produced by each situation can begin to be formulated.

Often situations which create a large amount of stress can be eliminated completely. For those stressors which cannot be entirely eliminated, a plan to better manage the situation, so that the amount of stress produced is decreased significantly, is often helpful in relieving the overall amount of stress the person is feeling.

One of the most common sources of stress, for many people, is the habit that they have of not setting healthy limits on the amount of commitments they enter into. Overextending oneself creates undue stress, and generally leads to exhaustion, burn out, and inevitably, “failure” to fulfill many of one’s obligations. This “failure” is often perceived by the individual as a personal “failure”, creating feelings of guilt, shame and poor self-esteem; feelings which inevitably contribute to the amount of stress the person experiences. An individual who has a tendency to overcommit may also be driven by a desire to “prove” themselves, or to “live up to” a certain standard which they have imposed upon themselves.

Having rigid ideas about “success” and “failure” and demanding too much of oneself, contributes to the overall stress in the person’s life. Many times an individual has such a deep fear of failure, or a desperate need to “live up” that they refuse to set limits on their time, until health problems or other life events force them to do so.

If an individual has a difficult time making necessary changes in their routine, or setting healthy limits for themselves, underlying causes of the behavior should be addressed. Consider what constitutes “success” and “failure.” How can one’s point of view be altered, to allow some relief from the “rigid taskmaster” of self?

What limits can be set comfortably? What obligations and commitments can be let go of? Simple questions such as these can go a long way toward helping identify the sources of stress, and creating a plan to reduce the effects of stress that stress a person’s life.

Addressing Anxiety And Worry In A Stress Management Plan

Anxiety and worry are common sources of stress. Financial problems, health issues, family concerns, and a realm of other situations, can create an unhealthy amount of stress, when not addressed in a healthy manner. A person may choose to cope with these types of situations in a variety of healthy or unhealthy ways. From denying the problem altogether, to attempting to “run away” or “hide” from the problem, an individual’s unique set of coping skills can either increase or decrease the level of stress they experience.

Denial is a common form of coping that many people employ to deal with life issues. Typically denial is a “coping skill” used by people in situations which present an unbearable amount of stress. This may happen in alcoholic families, domestic violence relationships, even in people facing severe illness or death. A person in denial simply says “Everything is fine” and “Nothing is wrong.”

Attempting to run away or hide from a stressful life event is evident in those who use drugs or alcohol to “escape”, as well as those who simply “avoid” the problem. The individual who works too much, or the teenager who stays away from home for days at a time, are people attempting to escape the problem.

Procrastination can be a sign of worry and anxiety. Fear of “what will happen” if the person does face the problem can lead to “putting off the inevitable.” This type of behavior also contributes to stress, as the unseen and unknown are often larger, in the mind, than in the situation.

Facing things head on may be difficult, but it is the healthiest way to handle situations that create worry, fear or anxiety. Getting answers, instead of speculating, and addressing problems, instead of denying, hiding or running away from them, is the only way to reduce the stress caused by these types of situations.

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