Personally, I can say that I used to ‘super-stress’ over everything, however unsubstantial. After all, it is stress that distorts reality and makes us perceive things inaccurately. Only later I realized how much stress was affecting my actions, my choices and relationships. Simple advice, like ‘Don’t stress, everything will be fine’ did not calm me down, most often I ended up feeling even more tense. Gradually, I put together my own system or techniques to help me control stress. It is my ‘stress control manual’, simple, fast, flexible, and most of all, effective.
It is important to calm down after the first wave of stress and emotions. Ideally, you go through this stage in your head and do not let anything out before you think about it first. Another critical point is not to bring stress from work home and vice versa. In this stage, start with regular breathing and then move on to calm thinking, following these simple steps.
Once our brain is calmer, we need to imagine a worst case scenario for the given situation. Picture it in the smallest details (or specific numbers, if financial matters are the issue). Often you realize than even the worst scenario does not deserve this amount of stress or that it is quite unlikely to happen.
It is always reassuring, and effective, to have a plan with individual steps. But, make sure you actually write it down, don’t just keep it in your head, otherwise it will not be as effective. We tend to procrastinate and do not get very precise if we only plan in our head. Individual steps need to be specific to prevent stress from unexpected obstacles.
After these first steps, you should feel relief; stress is now under control. Now you can focus on the solution itself. You can always repeat previous steps if stress rises again. It does no harm to talk about the stressful situation with someone. If you pick the right person, talking can bring huge relief.
Reward yourself. It does not have to be an exotic trip; a nice dinner, a wellness activity or some other form of relaxation will do. It is important to give yourself little rewards after individual steps, too, not only after the whole situation is resolved. It is essential not to get drowned by the stressful situation and not focus exclusively on resolving it.
Each person is different; therefore it is important to adjust these steps to the needs of the individual. These are not a magic formula that works by itself. At the beginning you need to get used to ‘the stress control manual’, but later it works automatically. In stressful situations your brain follows the steps automatically. The relief you can get is unbelievable. Feeling of power or control over yourself is one of the most satisfying feelings in general.