Stephen Covey calls it, “Begin With The End In Mind”. We are going to call it, Know and Like Where You Are Headed. One of the largest contributors to confidence and feeling good about yourself, is feeling like you are in control of your destiny. Much of the anger and stress felt by both teens and adults is the lack of direction and commitment to an end result. Unfortunately we get so busy with the day to day that we can forget to take a few moments on a regular basis to think about where we are headed. So we we may be going full steam – but on a path that is not ultimately where we really wanted to be. That results in STRESS!
You will want to ask yourself some questions so you can establish what it is that you truly want to work towards. Take your time with this, and don’t be surprised that when you review your goals as time goes on, that you refine them.
- What is it that you really love doing?
- What makes you get up in the morning, excited and ready to get the day started?
- Who are your heroes in life and what is their influence on you?
- If you could do anything in the world, with money not being an object, what would it be?
- What steps will I need to take to get there? What can I do right now?
Goal setting and creating a step by step plan to reach your goals is a huge subject that you can investigate and we will write about in the future, but just know that research has shown that those who define their goals are more successful than those who just dream. In fact one study done with Harvard graduates showed that those that wrote their goals down were 3 times better off than those who did not.
This process is not just for the career paths and big decisions. Even the smaller everyday stuff that needs to get done can be set out as short term goals and will help you get the important things done – reducing stress in your life. One more thought on this process, do not forget to be willing to ask for help or to get a coach or mentor to help you sort through your thoughts. We do not have to do this by ourselves. If we need some unbiased help, ask someone who is already doing what you think you would like to be able to do for guidance on how they got there.
It may seem that being assertive has little to do with how stressed we may be feeling, but in fact if we are feeling out of control or not having enough input in decisions being made about our life, we can become very stressed about those situations. This could be happening with friend, teachers, family or at work.
Now every age group is going to have different levels of responsibility or even ability to make choices for themselves. But if you are a teen or older, standing up for yourself in positive ways and expressing your feelings, needs and opinions is very freeing for your soul. Being assertive about expressing yourself is a right that you have, but also one that comes with the responsibility to understand the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.
When difficult situations come up are you willing to speak up? You may ask yourself if you are being embarrassed, bullied, lied to, or having a conflict, will you share your thoughts and feelings honestly with the other person or group? Do you know how to do so effectively and without coming off as aggressive?
Engaging others when you are calm, explaining your feelings and specific behaviors that are effecting you and how you feel is the beginning steps. The use of “I” messages along with how you would like to resolve the issue is a good way of beginning the conversation, along with asking for their willingness to change their behavior or help come up with another solution.
Holding your feelings and thoughts in for a long period of time, can only build the pressure on yourself and make you feel like you will burst. Finding a way to discuss the issues at hand in a calm manner will make you feel better about yourself and the situation and reduce the stress that you are feeling.
I have a t-shirt that I bought in one of the islands in the Caribbean that says, “It is good to do nothing and then to rest”. Just as it is important for us to have good time management skills and to work hard, it is also just as necessary to practice calming our mind and being still. For many it is very hard just to be still, to not be doing anything, to just relax. Relaxation is about being still physically while being alert mentally. Knowing how to ‘relax’ is one way of allowing your body and mind to rest, a very deep rest, which in turn allows you to build the energy you need for the rest of your activities.
Imagine I ask you to hold yourself up on a chin up bar and hold it as tight and long as you possibly can. In a very short period of time you start to get tired and it becomes more difficult. Soon your muscles are aching and there seems to be no power in your hands or arm to continue to hold. Finally it becomes impossible – you let go and you feel great relief. If we did the same experiment and I asked you to hold yourself up on a chin up bar for 10 seconds and then you got a short break and then held yourself for 10 seconds with a break – you would be able to continue that routine for a much longer time, and the reason is you allowed yourself to relax your muscles.
If we never take the time to calm our mind and body, fatigue can set in quickly and everyday activities will seem harder for us and soon we simply do not have the energy to do even the simple things. This kind of relaxing is not the same as watching TV, napping, chatting online or even taking a walk. It can be accomplished in these ways though. Continue reading “How to Reduce Stress Part 3: Learning to Relax”
When you have reached the limits of your abilities to cope with stress in your life, you may still be embarrassed, scared or so overwhelmed that you start taking part in escapist behaviors to try and feel better. For teens this may be skipping school, running away from home. For both adults and teens there may be a turning to drugs and alcohol, lying to people to avoid responsibility and it can get so bad that some feel so hopeless, that they may take to hurting themselves physically or even having suicidal ideation.
Obviously any and all of these behaviors can bring on even more problems that can last a lifetime. Short term techniques to try to deal with stress are never as helpful as learning how to really deal with the issues or problems that are making us feel so overwhelmed. We will continue to talk about stress among children and teens in upcoming articles, but if you are a teen or child, just know that talking to an adult that you trust is a great first step and one that you should take for your own well being. If you are an adult being aware that our children, even the ones that seem to have it all together, may be feeling the pressures of their schedule or workload along with all the social pressures that teens have.
Being able to listen without judging, and knowing that you do not have to have all the answers is key to gaining the confidence of the child or teen. Recognizing the signs of stress and coping skills that they may be using can help us to get a head start on avoiding larger problems in the future. Coping with stress is something that all of us can do and we will discuss some of the basics in future articles.
1. Using distraction as a way to cope with stress
2. Using avoidance as a way to cope with stress