This involves knowing your capabilities and your limits, your personal temperament and typical coping style, and your values and goals.
You may feel comfortable with some of your characteristics, less happy with others. In either case, to effectively manage stress you need to be aware of your own optimum stress level and coping style, as well as the goals and values that guide your reactions.
Everyone has their own temperament, style of managing stress, and value system. You need to develop strategies relevant to your personal style and compatible with your personal values, otherwise you are not likely to use them.
Self-acceptance and confidence
Accept yourself for who you are, with your limitations as well as your strengths. Do not attempt to take on more than you can handle, you do not have to be perfect, just be the best that you can be. Do not measure yourself according to other people or their expectations. Have enough confidence in your abilities, skills and talents and do not wish to have what you think other people have.
Tolerance for frustration and discomfort
The ability to tolerate frustration and discomfort is central to stress management. High tolerance will keep you from overreacting to things you dislike. It will help you tackle problems and issues rather than avoid them. It will enable you to take risks and try new experiences.
The principle of moderation will help you avoid extremes in thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Why moderation is important to stress management?
Extreme expectations - too high or too low, will set you up for either constant failure or a life of boredom.
Addictive or obsessive behaviour can take control of you, creating new distress. Unrestrained eating, drinking or exercising will stress your body and lead to long term health complications.
Emotional and behavioural responsibility
People who see their emotions and behaviours as under their control are less prone to distress than people who see themselves as controlled by external forces. The principle of responsibility can help you take charge of your emotions, your actions, and in turn your life. It involves taking responsibility for (1) what you feel, and (2) how you act.
To be emotionally responsible is to believe that you create your own feelings in reaction to what life throws at you. You avoid blaming other people - your parents, partner, or anyone else - for how you feel.
Behavioural responsibility means accepting that you cause your own actions and behaviours, and are not compelled to behave in any particular way.
Flexible people can bend with the storm rather than be broken by it. They know how to adapt and adjust to new circumstances that call for new ways of thinking and behaving. They have resilience - the ability to bounce back from adversity.
The principle of flexibility
To be flexible is to be open to change in yourself and in the world. As circumstances alter, you are able to modify your plans and behaviours. You are able to adopt new ways of thinking that help you cope with a changing world. You are able to let others hold their own beliefs and do things in ways appropriate to them - while you do what is right for you.
Adapted from the book: “Good Stress: The Life that can be yours”, by Wayne Froggatt, Published by HarperCollins New Zealand, Auckland, 1997.