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Stress Management Is Really About Managing Yourself

Stress Management Is Really About Managing Yourself

Stress does not cause problems, our response to it does

It is said that the human brain is the creator of everything in this world. We think and therefore we are. What we think is what we get and become. These are old sayings but I believe that they are quite true. If we think that the conditions are stressful, they are. On the other hand if we believe that things are not really stressful or at least they are quite under my control then one should not be surprised to see that it is indeed so.

And that is why, from now on I’m going to do my best to eliminate the phrase “stress management” from my vocabulary, and I suggest you do the same.

This term “stress management” implies that stress is something that you can control. While in many ways you can, inreality, the only thing in the world you have 100% control over is yourself. Everything else that is external to you is not really under control. And more often than not, unwanted guests such as stress are in our lives due to external factors that we cannot control.

That is why, the idea that stress management is really about managing yourself is a big mindset shift for most people. It requires looking at stress from a high level and realizing that stress is something people let control them, not the other way around.

You see, stressful things are going to happen. There will be challenges, difficulties, irritations, annoyances and frustrations, most of which you will have no control over. That is why Gita teaches the philosophy of do your best and do not get upset if things do not happen the way you want them to. You have no right over results. Because their happening is not in your control.

Stress Free Work Week

What you CAN control is how you respond and react to situations that cause stress.

In the workplace one of the biggest sources of stress is the boss! We love to hate him and many a stories are built around the Boss. We get stressed by him for a variety of reasons. Let us review one such situation:

How many of us have thought or said that my boss is a complete fool and it is insulting to me that I have to report to him and his less-than-stellar level of intelligence.

We are not going to debate the correctness of such a perception – that is beyond the scope of this article. Rather, we will try and see how such a situation can be “managed”

The best thing under the circumstance is to realize that you are dwelling on something you can never change. You boss’s ability, knowledge and position in the company are completely outside of your control. It is only when you start to detach yourself from such  thoughts and perceptions, that you can be stress free and start to make progress.

Most people waste their energy focusing on things that cause anxiety and stress, when if they just shifted their energy toward the things they can control, a lot of the stress and anxiety would go away.

When you finally accept the idea that a lot of what happens in the world you really have no control over (weather, traffic, other people, for example), you start to shift your energy and focus to the things you do have control over such as your own thoughts, feelings, attitudes, health and happiness.

Stress management is Managing Yourself
Rather than looking at it as stress management, look at it the entire process as managing yourself.

Your turn to tell us about how you manage stress in your life. Specifically:

  1. Do you believe that it is actually about managing your self?
  2. What do you do to make your life less stressful?
  3. What advice would you like to share with the other readers here on the subject?

This article has been contributed by Steven Stockwell, the author of the best selling Stress Free Work Week

If you liked this article, please share it with your friends on any one of the following social networks, and get a FREE eBook – HOW TO REDUCE STRESS IN YOUR LIFE


  1. The new insights explained in this article , all the more provides enough way to manage stress to one’s advantage . It is a confidence booster. All the best. Thanks

  2. Dear Mr. Rao,
    Thanks for your kind words. I am glad that you liked the article and found value in it.
    best regards

  3. Very interesting and helpful article indeed. Spawns a lot of new threads and with everyday life relevance too. Let’s first go over the questions, the authors raised (goes without saying the responses are based on my own experiences alone)

    Do you believe that it is actually about managing your self?
    I partially believe that managing stress is about managing oneself. The other part is changing/remodelling the environment we operate in. For example, a student who wants to get his assignments completed but is stressed due to peak summer temperatures can manage his/her emotions but at the same time can spend extra time inside a air-conditioned classroom to take the stress out of the situation (a few out of the box ideas might work)

    What do you do to make your life less stressful?
    A lot of things with general themes being a. talking to friends and near ones (works perfectly in office to speak to a friend who can relate to my situations) b. creating a renewed perception of reality (how bad it is vs how bad it could have been) and c. escaping to more pleasant situations like reading travel blogs etc. and finally d. researching potential ways out of my stressful situation

    What advice would you like to share with the other readers here on the subject?
    I believe stress is not such a bad thing as it propels one to action. However, there are limits on healthy kind of stress. When such stress begins to overwhelm and paralyse clear thinking, then it does become unhealthy. My advice based on this is take out the unhealthy/exaggerated/anxiety party of the stress to start with. Next, fix a time-frame on when to resolve the stressful situation (so you can think about it with a clear mind) and focus on the present.
    The only exception to this is when you need to make spot decisions. My experience has been make the best possible decision (full integrity required here) but don’t curse yourself when looking at past through the glass of time.

  4. Dear Karan,

    Many thanks for your kind words. I am glad that you found the article helpful and interesting.

    You are absolutely right that out of the box ideas can do wonders in helping us manage stress in every day lives. The bottom line however is that WE need to take ACTION OURSELVES.

    Interacting with friends, near and dear ones, reading, writing, travelling are wonderful stress busters as you have pointed out so correctly. I my case cooking and eating what I cook also acts as a stress buster!!

    The most valuable insight that you have shared is the belief that stress can propel us to action and more achievement. I fully concur.

    I hope we have more comments / feedback and interaction with you in future.

    best regards


  5. Very interesting and useful article. Really helpful and enlighting.

  6. Dear Hussein,
    Thanks a lot for your encouraging words. I am happy that you liked the article and also find it useful.
    Do visit us again
    best regards

  7. Different things cause stress in different people. Some of the things students commonly cite as causes of stress include: examinations, deadlines, returning to study, pressure of combining paid work and study, difficulty in organising work, poor time management, leaving assignments to the last minute, out of control debts, poor housing, overcrowding, noise, adjusting to life in a new environment or country, difficulties with personal relationships (e.g. splitting up), balancing the demands of a family with studying, parents or problems at home. Very often stress results from an accumulation of many different pressures which build up gradually without us noticing.

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