By Harry Petsanis and Donna McCance
Stress is our body’s emotional and physical reaction to pressure and tension that we get in response to changes and demands in our lives. We all experience stressful situations to some degree because change is always occurring around us.
Stress is the body’s natural reaction to what is perceived as a threatening situation, which in limited amounts can be a positive thing because this helps to keep us safe. Stress is also an emotional response that can come from feeling under pressure, frustrated, worried, sad, angry, overwhelmed, nervous, etc. This reaction can be a negative thing.
Response to stress causes chemical changes in the body through a release of hormones, which increases our heart rate, blood pressure, and sugar levels, among other things. When this response continues chronically, it can lead to or exacerbate health problems, such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, sleep difficulty, lack of energy, and more.
The Stressful Foundation of Stress
People perceive things differently and react differently, therefore stress is subjective. What one person perceives to be a threat may not be perceived as a threat by someone else. People have similar responses to stress caused by the chemical reaction the body goes through when there is a perceived threat, but they may react differently to emotional responses and what they allow to stress them.
People get caught in a cycle of causing themselves stress by worrying about being in stressful situations. They stress about being stressed, living in a constant state of looking at everything as being dangerous. This promotes unhealthy side effects, such as burn out.
Regardless of the situation, you can gain control of your reaction to demands and challenges, thus controlling stress.
Developing Mental Fortitude to Combat Stress
Developing mental fortitude is an important step toward combating stress. Mental fortitude is your emotional strength. It is your ability to master the skill of facing challenges during times of difficulty. Mental fortitude includes the development of courage, persistence, perseverance, resistance, and resilience.
Mental fortitude is not something we were born with, but rather it is something that we develop during times of weakness. As we recognize weakness within ourselves, we strengthen our mindset so that we can take that weakness and turn it into strength.
When you develop mental fortitude, you are able to better deal with stress because it helps you to overcome insecurities and lack of self-confidence over time.
It’s not healthy for you to react to everything emotionally. Developing self-awareness can help you to differentiate between what really is stressful, and what your emotional makeup is creating and turning into stress. In many situations, we may realize that we are creating stress unnecessarily.
In most cases, when you allow yourself to be emotionally stressed, there isn’t one positive benefit that comes from that stress. It’s detrimental to your physical, emotional, and psychological well being.
Developing a pragmatic mindset
helps you to deal with things sensibly and logically.
Perspective is your point of view or attitude about something which affects your emotional responses. Emotional responses may create stress that is not there. When you identify stress as a reaction to emotional responses, you can change your “emotional responses” to a “logical perspective.” Do not allow your emotions to determine your actions. You can think, feel, and react logically.
If you change from reacting to your emotions toward developing a logical perspective, you change the way you look at things and you no longer view the majority of things as stressful. Developing your mental fortitude helps you to develop a logical perspective through strength of mind.
The more you look at things logically, stress will eventually dissipate.
The Mindset Process of Critical Thinking
Coping Mechanisms for Stress Management
Critical thinking is the process of reflecting and questioning the information that is in front of you to help guide you toward making rational decisions. It helps you to understand yourself, think logically and less emotionally, and motivates you to improve.
The purpose of coping mechanisms is to calm your emotions, put them aside, and THINK LOGICALLY. This helps you to see things as they truly are so you can deal with them rationally.
The following are some steps that involve critical thinking for developing your mindset on stress:
PAUSE and pay attention to your body and how you are feeling. Recognize the signals that tell you that you are feeling stressed (breathing, feeling tense, feeling overwhelmed, irritable, anxious, etc.)
REFLECTION: Ask yourself some questions. “What am I being stressed by? What is causing me to feel this way?” This helps you to identify the source, or sources, of your stress.
Next, ask yourself “What can I do about it? Can I change the situation? Is the cause of this stress worth my energy to be stressed over?”
Choose to do something healthy to cope with it. If you find it’s something you cannot change or isn’t worth your energy, then let it go.
You can try some of the following things to help manage stress:
calm yourself down
walk away from the situation
don’t allow emotions to take over
relax your muscles
clear your mind of all thoughts (practice mindfulness)
eliminate negative self-talk and self-doubt
self care: eat well, sleep well, and exercise
let it go
put yourself first!
SELF REGULATE: People get highly emotional when they feel they are losing control, which is a source of stress. It's important to recognize when you have reached that heightened emotional state so that you can use strategies to help calm yourself down and refrain from reacting to a perceived stressful situation. You always have control, you just have to learn to recognize it and use it so you can exercise control over yourself. (See our Blog on Self-Regulation, November 22, 2021).
SELF CONFIDENCE: Self-confidence is something that you develop from within. It’s the belief in yourself regardless of whether anyone else believes in you or not. Self-doubt is the opposite of self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence leads to feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem and low self-worth. When you have a poor opinion of yourself, it affects the quality of your life and you may become stressed more easily. (See our Blog on Self-Confidence, November 1, 2021).
As you practice these coping mechanisms, over time you develop your mental fortitude and pragmatic mindset. You will find that much of your stress was unjustified and the things that you were stressing over weren’t worth stressing over!
Keep developing and keep practicing!
About the Authors
Harry Petsanis is a mindset and accountability coach, philosopher of human nature, consultant, and lifelong fitness and nutrition expert. He is a writer and author, with two published books: “The Truth is A Lie” and “The Logical Path To Life.” His book “The Truth is A Lie” was nominated by the 2019 Author Academy Awards in the "best self help" book category. Harry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He has an intense passion for psychology and the human condition.
Click here to order Harry Petsanis’s books.
Donna McCance, M.Ed. is a business administrator, licensed teacher and principal/vice principal with over 20 years experience teaching in elementary education and educational leadership. She has a Masters in Education, Masters in Human Services Management, Bachelors in Business Administration and Associates in Business Administration.