Dealing With Stress

Stress is something we all encounter. And it’s not talked about enough.

We’re forced to figure out how to handle this burden by ourselves. Some are proactive about it. Some deny it’s there. Others know it’s there but decide to ignore it.

You don’t have to be at a startup to experience stress. It pops up often in our personal lives and day-to-day interactions. How you deal with it is important. I’m far from perfect in that regard, but here are a few things I’ve found to be helpful.

1) Acknowledge It

This is something I’ve discovered through meditation. Recognizing when you’re feeling stressed or anxious is the first step to minimizing the impact it has on you.

It’s okay to feel stressed. It happens to everyone. When it starts to come over me, I’ll pause, breathe, and think, “okay, that’s stress”. I acknowledge it’s there and that it’s a normal feeling. Categorizing it as such will immediately make me feel better, emotionally and physically.

2) Keep Perspective

Okay, I’m stressed… now what? I find it helpful to put perspective on it. Is this the biggest problem in the world? It’s certainly significant in my world, but how does it compare to what else could be wrong? Better yet — what do I have to be thankful for? While I may be stressed about a problem happening now, there are plenty of positive things in my life that I have to be grateful for.

Looking at stress through that lens is helpful. It allows you to express gratitude for the things you might otherwise take for granted. Often stress is a result of a narrow perspective. Widening it helps a lot.

3) Reflect With Time & Space

Take a walk. Get fresh air. Go to the gym. Just get away and do something else. Bonus points for something physical. This helps me to think and achieve #1 and #2 above.

I find I need to create space between me and what’s causing me stress. That space is created through the time away from it, and by focusing my mind on something else entirely. It enables you to come back to the problem with a fresh outlook.

4) Take Responsibility

The blame game is easy to play — but it gets you nowhere. Regardless if this problem is your fault or not, use the time and space to think about what you could have done differently.

It’s not easy but, by operating from a place of “this is my fault”, I find that I’m more able to deal with the issue at hand. When things are out of your control, they’re more stressful. By taking responsibility you can change the conversation around the stress and give yourself the power to change it.

5) Move Forward

I use the above to make myself feel better, both emotionally and physically. But that doesn’t solve the problem or completely shed the stress. It does put me in a better state to address it, but it doesn’t do the job for me.

The problem still exists. The anxiety is still there. But now I’ve put more thought into it, I’ve had time to reflect, and I’m ready to face it head on. Running and hiding from problems accomplishes nothing. They might be scary but the only way to get passed them is to push ahead. Accept them for what they are and move forward.

This is how I deal with stress but I’m always looking for new ways to tackle it. How do you deal with stress?