Responding to Stress - Part 1
Posted on December 15, 2010 by Janie Selby, One of Thousands of Life Coaches on Noomii.
Learn new techniques for coping with stress.
Stress today comes from every direction. Some people tend to deal with stress more effectively than others. Have you ever considered why two people experiencing the same situation can have completely different responses and reactions? As we observe ourselves and those around us, we might notice that what might stress one person is nothing more than a minor inconvenience for another.
In the 1970s a young graduate student named Suzanne Kobasa, Ph.D. discovered that some people tend to have an inner hardiness when it comes to dealing with stress. She took a stress quiz and as she added up her score she realized the results indicated that she scored in the “danger zone” and was at risk of developing a serious illness. However, Kobasa felt fine. She considered the factors and concluded that different people must have certain protective factors for getting through difficult events and adversity. She follow-up her assumptions by putting them to the test and studied why some people seemed to be more resilient even under extreme periods of adversity.
Kobasa found that individuals who were more effective at dealing with stress and adversity shared some common characteristics. She called them the three C’s, commitment, control, and challenge.
Commitment – those experiencing stress in their lives were actively and fully engaged in the world around them. Rather than withdrawing and checking out, these individuals maintained deep and abiding commitments with family and friends. Remaining closely connected to key support systems is critical especially when you need to tap into strength and resources as you move through adversity.
Control – hardy individuals believe they can figure out a solution to their circumstances and are willing to act on their beliefs rather than take a “victim” approach. These folks are confident that they can influence their circumstances and stay emotionally and mentally connected looking for options and solutions. They also realize when no amount of thinking, feeling, or doing will change the outcome or improve their circumstances. These individuals understand that triumph is not always measured by conquering the circumstances of the outside world but by embracing the changes within.
Challenge – problems are challenges and opportunities for growth rather than hassles. These individuals look for ways to assign meaning, see the change as an opportunity for personal growth and remain closely connected to those around them.
If some of us are more naturally hardy in this area, how can the rest of us gain these skills?
The first step is to begin to view life from the perspective of commitment, control, and challenge. By reflecting on these elements and changing our view, we can begin to use commitment, control and challenge as guides to form new views in our own life. We can move from viewing life events as hassles to seeing them as challenges.
Remain committed even in the face of distraction and look to find real meaning in what is going on around you.
Learn to recognize what is really within your control and exert the appropriate control when you can. Gracefully relinquish it and go with the flow when you can’t change the circumstances or outcome.
Consider these questions.
Commitment – Are you actively engaged in your work, with family, friends and community or do you withdraw?
Control – Do you feel as if you have the power to influence events around you or do you see yourself as powerless?
Challenge – Do you view change as a challenge to be met with expected success or do see it as something that sends you into turmoil and panic?
If you chose the latter to any of the questions you may not be realizing the benefits of being stress hardy. The good news is that you are exploring new ways of facing the changes in your life. It’s hard to feel disengaged or powerless when you are asking yourself these questions. The very fact that you are considering new options for dealing with what life throws your way indicates positive change.
Try this! Consider a situation that you are experiencing right now. Sit for a few minutes in a quiet space and consider the challenge from this perspective:
What one opportunity for growth and development can I gain from my current situation?
What is my next best action?
Do you notice any change or shift in perspective? What’s the energy level like? What is your body telling you? Change won’t happen overnight and we often slip into our old habits so don’t get discouraged. Take the step today to change your view of one life circumstance.
Remember, our mind and habits will either create bridges or barriers to living.