Nobody would deny that stress is a problem. Stress is like a glass that is slowly filled, drop by drop. As long as it has not spilled over, we might not notice that it is there. We might not perceive it as a problem. It becomes obvious only after the glass is spilled over because only then stress causes psychological and physical diseases.
When we become aware of this situation, the following question surfaces. What can we do to prevent the stress glass from spilling over? Are there ways to manage stress and where should I start? As in case of every problem, some analysis is required. Obviously, there is a reason for your stress. And not only one reason. There could be multiple reasons for your stress that are often interconnected. These reasons might be conscious or unconscious.
So, the first step for managing your stress is to identify the sources of your stress. Stress is often connected to change. Every change causes stress because change means pain. This pain comes from the need to adjust to a new situation, something that requires mental effort no matter what the change is. Of course, depending on the person and the situation some changes might be more painful and more stressful than others.
Personal changes could be a source of stress. Are you pregnant or is your partner pregnant? Did you recently break a relationship? Did you recently start a relationship? Are you trying to quite smoking or other addictions? Did you have an accident that has caused some serious health problem? Is there a change in your financial situation?
Family changes is another important source of stress. Are there any tensions with your life partner or children? Did you lose a friend or a relative? Is your partner starting or leaving a job? Is a family member leaving home? Do you have to deal with the illness of a family member? Did you get married or take a divorce?
The third source of stress is work changes. Did you get a promotion? Did you change your job? Did you lose your job? Are you working in a different team? Do you have a new supervisor? Has the management team changed? Do you need to work different hours or more hours? Do you have to deal with a new project?
Environmental changes can also cause stress. Did you relocate to a new city or a new country? Do you have to deal with natural disaster? Did you move to a new house? Do you worry about crime in your neighborhood?
The above are just examples of questions you can ask in the four sources of stress we identified. Would you break the sources of stress into different categories?
Personally, I like checklists a lot. Putting things into boxes helps tidying up things in your mind. We could say that identifying the sources of your stress is a kind of checklist. By recognizing the source of your stress, you acknowledge that it is there. You acknowledge that it is there for a reason. And you take the first step for eliminating it.
In our productivity coaching program we also focus on stress management and tools like the one discussed in this article.