How to tame stress. About enhancing your stress coping skills


Throughout my whole adult life, I have wondered how to overcome stress. When I started to work as a coach, public speaking became an essential part of my professional life. That was the reason I began to explore the subject of stress.

I knew what it is, where it comes from, how it shows physiologically. Even though I was familiar with advanced methods of relaxation and proven breathing techniques, I would feel paralysed by stress and not able to cope with it. Until one time I came across a certain research.

Research that changed the way I perceived stress

In 1998, in the United States a survey was conducted on 30,000 adult respondents concerning the amount of stress they had been experiencing in the past year. One of the questions they were asked was whether they thought that stress is bad for their health. 8 years later, when it was ascertained how many of these 30,000 participants died within this period, it became clear that experiencing high level of stress increases the risk of death even by 43 per cent. And this wasn’t a new discovery.

What surprised me in this study was the fact that the increased risk of early death was incurred only by those participants who declared in the study that stress damages their health and who, therefore, would constantly wonder how to reduce it and its harmful effects. The increased risk of death didn’t apply to those participants who were aware that they did, indeed, experience severe stress, but didn’t consider it so harmful to their health. In their case, the risk of death was at the lowest level, that is even lower than it was ascertained for the group of participants who responded that their level of stress is not so high!

What are the conclusions of this study? It can be concluded that it is not stress itself that has a harmful effect on us, but stress combined with the belief that it is bad for us. You can read more about this research and other myths surrounding stress in a book by Kelly McGonigal “The Upside of Stress. Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It”.

How to tame stress?

First of all, start with changing the way you think about stress. Accept the fact that stress is an integral part of your life. Do you believe that stress has a negative effect on your health? Stop thinking this way. This doesn’t mean that you should now marginalize distress in your life. Let’s not forget that ongoing, chronic stress is harmful.

The most important thing is that you have many opportunities to learn how to handle stress capably. That’s right. You can enhance your stress coping skills. You cannot eliminate stress from your life completely, you cannot take control of it control it, and since you can’t, learn how to manage it.

Enhance your stress coping skills

I really like the way it sounds: “enhancing your stress coping skills”. It shows that experiencing stress takes a skill. This means that you can learn to stress capably and wisely. Where to start?

  • Verify your views on stress. How do you perceive it?
  • Accept the fact that stress is part of your life and you are not able to eliminate it completely.
  • Believe that it is possible for you to learn to use stress wisely for your own benefit.
  • Notice the positive aspects of stress. Research shows that through experiencing stress we can become stronger, smarter, and more successful. Stress helps us learn, develop and think creatively.
  • Easier said than done

    That’s what you’ve probably thought after reading my tips. I can agree with that only partly. Working on changing your attitude towards stress takes some effort that you need to put into it. One thing I know for sure. It’s worth it. In the following articles I will walk you through this change step by step. Feel invited to join me.

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