How to deal with stress in critical situations

Are you feeling overwhelmed by this situation you are facing? Are you struggling because you are putting a lot of effort, but you don't see the solution? Do you feel powerless, and you don't know what else to do? Are you experiencing sleeping problems because of this situation that you don't know how to solve?

You are definitely suffering from stress. Keep reading, and you'll discover why you are feeling this way and how to reduce and canalize this energy in a positive way.

Let's start by clarifying what stress is. Many of my clients are confused, and it's crucial that you understand why you are feeling this. Stress is an automatic body reaction to situations that you perceive as difficult or challenging. It prepares you to take action and it gives you the energy to react and overcome the challenge. Some of the effects of stress in your body are that your heart rate increases, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure rises. 

Let's do a short exercise: think about the situation that keeps you awake at night, the reason why you are here now reading this article. How is your body reacting when you think about it? Can you notice the changes? These are the effects of stress.

Three things you didn't know about stress

1. Stress can be positive: Even the fact that most of the time you see stress as an "enemy", in small doses it is something positive and necessary because it gives us the motivation to take action. Without stress would be bored and unaware all the time. It helps you finish tasks and protects you from potential dangers. 

2. Stress is necessary and natural: Even if you want to get rid of all the stress, it's impossible to be completely stress-free. As I told you, a certain level of stress is needed. It's a natural reaction of your body, so sooner or later, you'll experience stress again. If it's something that happens in just a specific moment to solve a situation, it can be beneficial and won't cause you any problem.

3. Stress is not always dangerous: Stress is harmful and should be treated when it lasts a long time (more than a few hours), or when it becomes chronic. The physical reaction of your body under stress is very intense and can't be sustained for a long time. If this happens, there might be dangerous consequences (headaches, chronic pain, insomnia, digestive issues, depression...). 

If you are facing situations that you don't know how to overcome or that is too demanding, and you are feeling stress frequently, you must take immediate action to reduce it. If you want to protect your mental, physical, spiritual health, and also your relationships, your business, and ultimately your success, start by reducing your levels of stress.

Here you have some tips that will help you reduce your levels of stress dramatically.

1. Focus on what you can do

There are lots of things in life that are not under your control. Some examples are the weather, if there's an economic crisis or if one of your clients has to close their business. The more time you spend thinking about these topics, the more stressed you'll become because you'll perceive possible threats that you can't control.

Instead of this, you'd better spend your time and energy thinking of areas where you can have an impact or those that are under your responsibility. For example, looking for new clients, innovate and offer products that can be needed during the crisis.

An excellent way to discover how to face the situation in a healthy way is by asking yourself: What can I do? What are the opportunities that this situation offers to me and to my business? 

2. Ask for support

One of the reasons for stress is that you often take responsibility for more things than the ones you can handle. A common limiting belief I help lots of my clients be aware of and replace for a more useful one is: "asking for help is a sign of weakness". On the contrary, asking for help is something smart and beneficial for all of us, when we cooperate and support each other we can achieve much more! 

Which of the things you are doing can you delegate to someone that is more expert on and that will enjoy doing them?

When you ask for help you release a lot of pressure and you have more time to do those things that you are really good at.

3. Set boundaries 

Another reason for stress is the difficulty of "saying no" or take too much responsibility in causes where we shouldn't. You can't be involved in everything, you can't solve all the problems, your time is limited, it's time that you start prioritizing and being more mindful of your time setting healthy boundaries.

What are the essential things that you want to be involved? What are those that can wait or that you shouldn't be involved right now? Stop doing them, and start using your time wisely.

4. Use mindfulness techniques

Stress is a physical reaction that manifests in your body, a good way to reduce the symptoms is to do some practices that minimize them. Some examples are meditation or breathing techniques that activate the parasympathetic system which is antagonistic with the sympathetic system (the one activated during the stress response). 

Take into account that these exercises will reduce the symptoms and will help you prevent future physiological damage, but won't solve the problem as it doesn't transform the root of the problem. 

5. Change your mindset

To achieve long-lasting results you have to work on your mindset and the root of the issues. Only a profound and real transformation of your thoughts will solve the problem. 

Behind a stressed person there's always a mindset to be optimized. Transforming you believes, being aware of your patterns, your triggers, your natural tendencies, and establishing healthier ones, you'll be able to reduce a lot of your stress and you'll be more successful in the long term.

Now it's time to put all these techniques into practice, I'm here to design a personalized plan for you and help you work on your mindset to achieve transformative and long term results!

Last but not least, if you have a team and you want to manage the stress in your team, stay tuned! I'll publish another article soon to give you tips on how to reduce the stress on others!

Andrea Arcusa

PCC Executive Coach and Psychologist | [email protected]