Controlling Stress Before It Controls You.

Screaming kids, spousal misunderstandings, blaring alarm clocks, approaching deadlines, unexpected interruptions, creativity blocks, endless emails or phone messages to return, bad news, bills to be paid, traffic jams, health problems, computer crashes, household chores, impending taxes, demanding bosses . . . stress, stress and more stress. But did you ever stop to think about what leads to stress?

The path to stress is easy to see by observing the natural characteristics of human beings as they select, process and respond to experiences. If we could slow down our thought-reaction process, we could see the individual characteristics of humanness as they play out. For example, here’s an example to illustrate how stress happens and how it affects you:

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This illustration can be applied to any situation you experience – getting cut off in traffic, having your work critiqued, being assigned more work than you think you can handle, having a disagreement, etc. Your emotional and physical response and your personal effectiveness depend on the meaning you give to the experience.

So before you get all stress-out over the situation, take a moment to stop and think about whether your interpretation of the situation is accurate. A great question to check your interpretation is, “How can I know for sure?”

The question applied to the above scenario would be, “How can I know for sure that he has been in an accident?” The obvious answer is, you can’t know for sure. So why let yourself get stressed-out over an imaginary fear? Afterall, it’s your thoughts that lead to stress, and you can control those.

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