The best way to cope with stress is to change distress (bad stress) to eustress (good stress). Here are 10 real-life examples of managing stressful situations by flipping them upside down.
“A natural and common response to stress is to try to resist it,” says Dr Jay Winner, author of Take the Stress Out of Your Life: A Medical Doctor’s Proven Program to Minimize Stress and Maximize Health. “Instead, use your energy to succeed.” Drawing from more than two decades treating the physical and psychological effects of stress, Dr. Winner clearly lays out how to control the condition through a series of lifestyle modifications, simple mental exercises, and relaxation techniques–without resorting to pills or overwhelming life changes.
You can’t avoid stress, but you can use stress to help you achieve your goals! Good stress is about turning difficult situations into opportunities for success. Good stress makes you feel empowered, productive, and energized.
Flippin’ It is the Best Way to Cope With Stress
Good stress is healthy because it helps you survive — and succeed. Here are 10 real-life examples of women who coped with stress by turning bad stress around.
Stop allowing unexpected visitors to disrupt your life
Do your in-laws (or friends, neighbors, or even coworkers at the office) drop in unexpectedly and stay for hours – and it drives you crazy? Turn this stressor around by taking control.
“Use it as opportunity to create a new policy for the future,” says Laurie Puhn, an attorney and mediator. “Compliment them, and then share your policy about calling first. Explain how you love spending time with them, but you would appreciate it if they called you in advance.”
Explaining your preferences is stressful in the short-term…but it’s empowering and productive in the long run.
Solve a stressful financial crisis – once and for all – by doing what you love
After an accident, Mary’s husband ended up on disability and only received a small monthly stipend. Mary was consumed with anxiety and stress about not paying the mortgage and losing the house. She lost sleep, and struggled to care for her two young children. How did she cope with this stressful situation? She saw psychologist Bruce Eimer.
“We brainstormed together, and she developed an idea for a home-based business that allowed her to do what she loved and earn money,” he says. “She started small, and quickly acquired more customers than she could handle.” Seeking professional help and starting a business turned out to be Mary’s best way to cope with stress.
Leave a bad marriage
Margot, a 49 year old from Fresno, CA, struggled with a troubled marriage for years. When she finally decided she couldn’t continue to live in misery, she confided in her closest friends and accepted their help.
“Though stressful, getting a divorce or separation can put you on a journey of self-discovery,” says Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. “Deep down, we usually know what we need to do to take cope with or manage stressful situations. But we procrastinate, ignore problems, or become paralyzed by indecision – which leads to even more stress.”
Read When to Give Up on a Relationship if you’re stressed about your marriage.
Cope with conflict that threatens a marriage
All relationships go through hard times, and the best way to cope with love stress is to troubleshoot as a team.
Psychologist Dr. Nancy O’Reilly says, “If your marriage hits a bump in the road, take the time to communicate what isn’t working to your spouse. A relationship blossoms when a couple “troubleshoots” their issues together.”
It’s stressful to develop good communication skills and define your roles at home – but in the long run, it’s the best thing you can do for your marriage. Problems can help couples build a strong foundation and grow closer. O’Reilly says, “Instead of seeing see conflict as “another fight”, use it as an opportunity to talk it through and grow closer.”
Diffuse the stressful “I wants” from your kids
“When you’re shopping and your child asks for the latest Wii game, don’t say ‘No, we don’t have the money’ or ‘We can’t afford it,’” says Lori Mackey, founder of Prosperity4Kids. “Instead, say ‘It’s not in the budget, but let’s figure out how you can earn the money yourself.’”
Teaching your child how to be resourceful is stressful, but it’s also healthy and productive. In the long run, teaching life skills will benefit both you and your kids — and life skills are the best way to deal with stressful situations.
Stop grinding your teeth in gridlock
Joni, a career coach in Vancouver, Canada actually enjoyed being stuck in traffic!
“Three guys in a moving van asked me for directions. Not knowing the route they needed, I gave them my map book instead,” she says. “You’d think I gave them a kidney from their reaction! And the couple behind me was laughing because the guys kept running over to ask me more questions.”
Finding ways to breeze through your daily commute – such as listening to books on tape or visualizing your next vacation – can help you cope with stress by upgrading distress to eustress. One of the best tips for coping with stress is to find fun, unusual, creative ways to de-stress!
Make the stress of public speaking work for you
Dr Jay Winner told me about Sally, who was nervous about her work presentation. She kept thinking, “I’m so stressed out!” The more she resisted her feelings, the worse they became. How did Sally turn it around? She kept repeating “I have a high energy level.”
Winner says, “Instead of fighting the adrenaline that comes with stressful situations, use it to give a more dynamic presentation.” To manage the stress of public speaking, practice your speech in front of peers and invite their feedback on your words and mannerisms.
Cope with pre-surgery stress – don’t panic because of it!
Sherri was suffering from severe panic attacks about an exploratory surgery she had to have. For her, the best way to cope with stress involved getting the facts.
“She was terrified of never waking up from the anesthesia, losing major organs, and being diagnosed with cancer,” says Dr Eimer. How did she turn it around? “We addressed each fear separately, and Sherri learned to divide and conquer.”
They planned three ways for her to take control and cope with the stress of surgery: educating herself about anesthesia, requesting an experienced anesthesiologist, and discussing the possibility of cancer with the surgeon. “By obtaining factual information, her fears – which were distorted views of reality – were corrected,” says Eimer.
Deal with impossible demands at work
Communications specialist Christine Hohlbaum says the best way for her to cope with stress is to acknowledge people who make unreasonable demands.
For instance, your boss may transfer his anxiety about not making a deadline to you by creating impossible demands. Hohlbaum says, “First, acknowledge your boss’s desire to get it all done now. Then, lay out a plan for him describing how you will tackle each step.” View your boss’s demands as an opportunity to develop better relationships with colleagues by asking for assistance, brainstorming new ideas with your coworkers, and thinking outside the box.
For more ways to change distress to eustress, read Surviving Stress at Work – 6 Tips for Reducing Workplace Stress.
Stop doing it all
Marianne was overwhelmed with work deadlines, chores at home, and childcare and pet responsibilities. She was raised to believe in hard work and independence, but her life had reached the breaking point.
Dr Joseph Weiner says, “Painful stress (distress) indicates that something isn’t working in your life.”
When he asked Marianne to pinpoint what wasn’t working, she said, ‘I can’t do it all myself, and I shouldn’t have to!’” This insight prompted her to hire a housekeeper, arrange carpooling for her kids, and find a grocery store that delivers. Her life isn’t stress-free, but she feels healthy and productive.
How do you cope with stressful situations? Have you found ways to flip stress upside down? Comments welcome below…