Jill spent the entire day chasing her two year old around the house. And the yelling. For no reason. And the throwing thing. And…yeah. It was one of those days. Nothing seemed to go according to plan. Everything was 10 times harder than it should have been. And that evening she had a final test for a certification she needed for work. She thought she knew the material, but needed more time to review. Stressed? Yeah, Jill knew what stress was. But she also knew that she couldn’t let herself get overwhelmed. How could being stressed help her on her final?
Positives of Stress
1) Keeps us Focused
Stress can help keep us focused. That major project or test deadline that is, um, tomorrow?!?! Well, guess what is being worked on now.
2) Feels More Motivated
Remember having a major test in school? And you didn’t know the material quite well enough? You probably studied for that test more than someone who thought they knew the materials well. The stress of not passing the test provided a sense of motivation to help you study better.
3) Stress Adds Energy
When is the last time you had way to much to do and no time to do it? How much easier what it for you to stay up late and get up early? Or to keep doing one of those boring tasks? That ability to keep going is another advantage of stress.
Challenges of Stress
4) Focus on the Wrong Thing
Stress can help keep us focus. But stress helps us focus on what is stressing us out. Sometimes whatever is causing the stress isn’t important to move the day forward. Focusing on what is stressing may be a distraction. The stress might have to be addressed in an indirect way.
5) Become Overwhelmed
In the story above, Jill was facing several stresses. They all needed her immediate attention. And she was only one person with limited time. The stressful situations were only overwhelming her.
So What Now?
Jill has several options. She can:
- Take a step back. Evaluate what is most important
- Focus on the most pressing needs first
- Focus on the most important needs first
- Address the most pressing concerns first
- Do enough for each stressor to reduce its urgency
- Delegate some tasks so she can focus on other things
- Focus on her own coping skills so she can get through the day
Back to Jill
Jill spent the entire day chasing her two year old around the house. And the yelling. For no reason. And the throwing thing. And…yeah. It was one of those days. Nothing seemed to go according to plan. Everything was 10 times harder than it should have been. And that evening she had a final test for a certification she needed for work. She thought she knew the material, but needed more time to review.
Jill took a moment and breathed. She realized that her child had a lot of energy that needed to be spent. And Jill was getting too frustrated to focus on her materials. She needed to do something different. She called a neighborhood friend – who also had a 2 year old. They took their kids to a local park for a play date. Jill got to catch up with her friend while they both watched their kids play. Jill didn’t have the sole responsibility anymore! And catching up was a wonderful distraction from her day. Her friend also knew Jill had the test. She was gracious enough to let Jill study for 20 minutes. Just enough time to review what she needed to.
That night once her husband, Jack, got home, she went out for a run. That helped reset her mindset so she could focus on the test later that evening.
Sometimes, managing stress isn’t as easy as it was for Jill. Refocusing, delegating, coping, etc. are not enough. At times, professional help may be needed to help effectively manage stress. Especially when it feels like there is no way out. Our counselors in Ephrata, PA can help! Call us today to start getting out from under the stress!