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10 Tips how to handle stress and become more stress tolerant

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“It feels like poison going through my veins.” This is me quoting myself from 7+ years ago. Whether you feel stress in your shoulders, around your mouth or you get stomach pain; you probably would agree that negative stress takes away a lot of joy and can be all-consuming. The perception of stress is highly personal and very subjective. I’m not telling you this to say you’re a poser, but to deliver the good news: there are lots of things you can do to handle stress. You can practice to handle stress better. The 10 best tips on how to handle stress follow now.   

Two aspects of handling stress 

When you experience stress, it means that you have a physical response because of some kind of stress trigger. Your body prepares for the action because something is asked of you. 

Stress is the sum of two elements. On the one hand, to what extent you are able to prevent and to handle stress. And on the other hand what is being asked of you and the pressure that is on you.  

The first one is – on first sight – internal and we call it your Coping Ability. 

The second one is – on first sight – external and we call it the Demand. 

Wondering why I use the phrase “on first sight”? Then check out this big and impactful guide on Coping with stress for the complete story. 

In this post we focus on strengthening your Coping Ability. We share 10 great tips on how to handle stress. Putting these tips into practice will make you more stress tolerant. The same thing happening in 1 year, might give you less stress than it is giving you now. Increased stress tolerance, thanks to your desire to learn and improve, is at the root. 

Please check out this post if you are more interested in reducing the pressure and hereby reducing stress. 

How to handle stress? > 10 tips

Ten tips on how to handle stress coming up. How to prevent stress, how to lighten it and how to handle it when it is there. And how to discover it of course, that is a big part of handling stress. 

Tip 1 – how to handle stress

>> Have a short conscious moment for yourself on a regular basis

Take care of conscious moments in a day; this way you feel stress at small signals and you are quick to act on them. You lose yourself (less) in what occupies you and are therefore less overwhelmed by events and sensations. The first step in handling stress is ‘recognizing stress’. And you can only recognize stress if you are aware to some extent and regularly check in with how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. So don’t rush through the day on the autopilot. Make sure to check in with yourself regularly. 

Tip 2 – how to handle stress

>> Don’t rush

Hurrying hardly causes you to arrive sooner. But it does create a sense of pressure and stress. There are many people who chronically rush. Make sure you are not one of them. Those few minutes won’t matter for the end result, but they will make you perhaps chronically stressed (and irritated). So don’t. Get out the door a few minutes earlier by default. Do not aim for arriving exactly on time, but for an arrival time 5 minutes earlier. You will notice that you are rushing a lot less. And how nice that is for your stress. An additional effect is that you also become a much nicer person through the eyes and experience of another.

I used to always rush. And I had a tendency to always arrive a few minutes late. Rushing with packing and leaving already gave me a feeling of stress. And really hating it to arrive late and make a person wait, even gave me more stress. So that is stress on stress, can you imagine how much stress that was. 

Tip 3 – how to handle stress

>> No judging or at least less judging

Judging a lot means that you are doing a lot of classifying something as right or wrong. Does something meet my expectation or desire, or not? Does someone do something to me or does someone do something ugly? If the judgment is negative, it automatically produces tension. Or even starts to feel like a threat. Because it’s not right the way it is. Something has to change. 

By judging a lot, people or situations become opponents. Contradictions are magnified. Judging means polarizing. And all those opposites create extra tension. All ingredients for more stress. More irritation, frustration, anger, conflict and that is not very harmonious. Judging means  

We advise you not to divide the world into right and wrong. Don’t make the world a hostile and negative world. It is as it is, nothing more and nothing less. Dive into the greyness of it all.  

PS positive judgments may seem harmless or even desirable at first glance. But watch out for that. If you work a lot with positive judgments, then it is inevitable that you will also make a lot of negative judgments. They are two sides of the same coin. Your positive judgment easily turns into a negative one.   

Tip 4 

>> Nourish your self-love and self-confidence 

Your Coping Ability is what you can handle when it comes to stress. This is not only determined by what you can actually handle, but also by your perception of what you can handle. Your perception of how strong you are. Whether you can handle it, no matter what comes at you. 

Stress is partly determined by your assessment of whether you can handle what comes at you. A negative verdict on whether you can handle what is asked, will lead to stress. From a base of self-confidence and self-esteem this assessment is more positive. And so you experience less stress.

Furthermore, if you stand firmly in your shoes, full of self-confidence and self-love, you can simply cope with more stress and tension. Because you also have confidence that you will solve it and deal with the situation well. Your coping capacity goes up by leaps and bounds, with all that confidence. 

Don’t confuse self-love with self-aggrandizement. Self-love doesn’t have to be shouted from the rooftops, it’s a deep and calm and positive foundation. Self-love also means recognizing what you may not be able to do so well, or what you should better let go of. An honest but loving look works best. 

Special yoga classes around the theme of Self love can be a great start to cultivate and grow your self love and confidence. Check out these great yoga classes on youtube by Yoga with Adriene

Tip 5 – how to handle stress

>> An attitude of acceptance

It is precisely resisting something – whatever it is – that is stressful. Resistance gives stress. And acceptance is the opposite of resistance. Acceptance means moving with what is happening, and not resisting it or trying to change it.  

Experiencing stress means resistance.  

Experiencing stress means resistance, at first glance, may sound a little short. But just go over a few situations. I will also do it using personal examples. 

I experienced mild stress last week with a review that I perceived as negative. Looking back, it wasn’t that negative at all, but that’s how it landed. 

I felt some stress. But did I also resist?

Yes. Because I thought it was nonsense and I also thought it was stupid of the review writers. I also didn’t like it and I didn’t feel appreciated in the effort I had put in. Deep down I wanted it to be different. I didn’t accept their opinion or the situation at all. 

The other day I was also stressed because I had a lot to do in one day and was running and flying and being late everywhere. 

I had a judgment on being late. My ideal image – ‘I want to be more relaxed’ – remained present throughout the day. Throughout the day, I had a negative opinion of the way everything was going. I had imagined something much more relaxing. 

So there was absolutely no acceptance there. 

How to recognize you are resisting

Non-acceptance can be recognized by the following, among other things: 

  • you have a wish about how things actually should be or should go
  • the actual situation does not match your expectation or your wish
  • you have a negative judgment, no matter how slight or difficult to notice

In situations, you have roughly three choices, which are to accept the situation, change it, or leave. 

If you choose to stay, and you have changed what could: just accept. Don’t sulk, don’t grumble, don’t whine, don’t resist, and don’t sputter. Those are all forms of resistance, and increase stress.  

I like to add an important side note to this tip. Make sure that your acceptance is 100% real. Otherwise it is just an avoiding coping strategy and that can be really stressful. Moreover, it will backfire at some point. Your acceptance has to be real. So check with yourself: am I just ignoring / avoiding or truly letting go? 

Tip 6 – how to handle stress

>> Exercise and good nutrition

Taking good care of yourself and your body is the foundation for better being able to handle stress and to experience less negative stress

Exercise regularly. Alternate a short two-hour sitting period with a walk, for example. Minimize the amount of caffeine and alcohol. This will help you and your body enormously to let less stress flow through your body. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the prerequisites for dealing with stress in a pleasant way.

Tip 7

>> Sleep

Sleep soundly and well. Because bad and less sleep are linked to higher cortisol levels. If you struggle with a healthy sleep schedule, there are many tips available to welcome healthier sleep routines into your life.

 Tip 8 – how to handle stress

>> Think positive – or at least neutral – of your stress sensations

What are your thoughts about stress? 

  • “I hate stress so much”
  • “I hate feeling this way”
  • ” if only I don’t get stressed out tomorrow”

Ok. You already have stress. And then you’re going to add such stressful thoughts about the stress. That is stress on stress: adding an extra layer of stress around the stress. That’s a shame to do and unnecessary. Choose calming and comforting thoughts instead of these stress-inducing thoughts about what is going on. And read back tip #3 again (something about being less judgmental…).   

We’ve all been warned that stress is so dangerous and unhealthy. But stress is also very useful, you can think about that too. Provided it’s short-term stress. Stress helps you perform. Embrace it for that brief moment of stress, and make stress your ally.  

Here are some examples of alternative thoughts about your stress: 

  • “this stress helps me to perform and to what is necessary”
  • “thanks stress for your focus and energy”
  • “stress doesn’t harm me in any way, and I will rest after this moment of focus and tension”
  • “I feel alive!”
  • “this is clearly important to me in some way”
  • “what can I learn about myself from experiencing stress because of this specific event or stress trigger?”

Tip 9

>> Regular and sufficient relaxation

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, but it cannot be emphasized often enough, stress in itself is not necessarily bad. In fact, it has very useful applications because you can be ready to deliver almost instantly. However, stress is always harmful to you if it persists over a very long period of time, and you don’t alternate periods of stress with rest. 

So take care of that. Don’t rush through in a big haze of adrenaline. Pause and come to rest after some time of focus and physical stress response. Step back from that hormone kick. Because your body simply needs it. And in the long run it will fail you if you don’t do it. 

So after a week of hard work, take it easy and go for an afternoon walk in the woods. And the day after you relax too. Choose something you like to relax after exertion. 

Tip 10 – how to handle stress

>> Examining your beliefs and measuring them against the stress-sensitivity bar (Stress Workbook coming SOON).  

Underlying your behavior, choices, feelings and thoughts are your beliefs. Beliefs are deeply held opinions about yourself, the world around you, and others. They are not only about how things are, but also how you think things should be. 

You can see them as your software program. Often unconsciously created and also unconsciously present. By your upbringing, your environment, events in your life etc.  

Some of those beliefs can be a great source of stress. Especially when does beliefs create a gap with the current moment as it is. And therefore your beliefs are worth discovering and examining. And they are a great – and essential – starting point to ‘reprogram’ yourself in a way that works more pleasantly and less stressful for you. 

How that works, you can fortunately read in one of our concise and insightful ebooks: coming SOON.

Examining and replacing beliefs

A belief that creates stress is, for example:

  • “I never do it right”

or: 

  • “it all has to be perfect”
  • “I can’t do it”
  • “it has to be my way”
  • “I can’t stand it when something changes”
  • “nobody listens to me”
  • “this is happening to me again”
  • “I think dominant behavior is bad”
  • etc etc

My tip is: get to work on this. Don’t expect to be done with this in an evening. It is a lifelong process of getting to know yourself, and you will experience endless benefits on all sorts of levels. And it is fun too! Do it yourself, share it with friends, family or your partner. Personal growth is a great motivator, and a great stable factor in living a satisfying and interesting life.  

Use daily situations and examples to discover what beliefs you have. By making use of our Anti-Stress workbook (coming SOON). Make an assessment of whether these convictions are helping or hindering you. Can you perhaps replace them with another belief? And in what ways does this new belief help you? 

More on Coping with stress

Are you struggling with stress and would you like to develop a more healthy and pleasant relation with stress in your life? Make sure you check out our Coping with Stress guide.  

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