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Stress is always a popular topic of discussion with my coaching clients. Regardless of the economic environment, conditions at home or at the office…no one is immune to it. To help me address the topic of stress this month, I turned to my friend and colleague Tammy Kohl who is President of Resource Associates Corporation. Here is her view on the subject.

Understanding stress and the ability to manage stress is important. However, the broader question is, "What can we do to reduce stress or even eliminate it altogether?"

Here are some thoughts and ideas from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work by Richard Carlson that may help you take a different approach to eliminating stress from your life entirely.

  • Become less controlling. Give yourself permission to not be in control of everything.
  • Avoid bragging about how much work you have to do and how busy you are. Everyone is!
  • Brighten up your work environment. Make your environment a fun place where you want to be and go.
  • Take breaks. Take both mental and physical breaks, as they will immediately revitalize your energy.
  • Accept the fact that every once in a while, you’re going to have a really bad day!
  • Examine your rituals and habits and be willing to change some of them-our habits are sometimes an enormous source of stress. Be open and be willing to change.
  • Let go of the battles you can’t win. Many battles are not even worth the effort if you honestly analyze the situation.
  • Don’t get stressed by the unpredictable. Sometimes life just happens.
  • Marvel at how often things go right. Focus on the positive not the negative.
  • Do the hard things or the tasks you are dreading first, then you don’t have to stress about them all day.
  • Ease off your ego, life is too short!

Service providers may always be dealing with some level of stress, but managing that stress is always under your control. If possible, avoid people or situations that produce stress for you. Determine where your stress is coming from, and think about how you need to react in order to reduce or eliminate the stress. You will begin eliminating stress by thinking differently, and effectively managing your stress will help you become a happier, healthier, and more productive person.

Closely associated with stress management is impulse control, or specifically the lack of it. Lack of impulse control is normally identified by impatience or anger, and for some people it can be both. These two emotions are also stress-related as impatience and anger typically make people very uptight and anxious.

Effective impulse control is your ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive, or temptation to act. Has a comment ever come out of your mouth so fast that you really do not know where it came from? It was an unconscious reaction. By the time the comment was made, you wanted to take it back or crawl under the nearest desk. Controlling your impulses entails your capacity for accepting aggressive impulses, being composed and controlling aggression, hostility, and irresponsible behavior. People with low impulse control often say the first thing that comes to their mind. The result of this action, many times, is regret for letting that impulse go unchecked and leads to the oft-heard apology.

Here is a brief assessment that may be helpful in determining your current level of impulse control. Rate each statement with Often, Sometimes, or Never.

  • I leap before I look.
  • I become impatient easily.
  • Others seem too slow in making up their minds.
  • I regret not giving more thought about my decisions.
  • I tend to be hotheaded.
  • I explode with anger easily.

If you answered often or sometimes for even one of these statements, you may want to set a goal to work on your impulse control. Like stress, you have 100% control of your responses, reactions, and impulses.


Some Relevant Quotes

"Stress is like an iceberg. We can see one-eighth of it above, but what about what’s below?"

"The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it."  ~Sydney J. Harris

"Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness."  ~Richard Carlson

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.  ~Ovid

"Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency."  ~Natalie Goldberg

"Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet."