Coping with Stress, Part 2

A Deeper Dive

February 2019

Last month I talked about stress, what it is, the causes and what to do about it. This column will delve further into how you can better manage stress in your life. You have enough to do at work, at home, for others, for yourself—the better you can manage things in your life, the less stress will be a part of it.
Where does stress come from? On the job, stress typically manifests from three sources:
The Work Environment. Malfunctioning equipment, tight schedules, unrealistic deadlines, uncooperative coworkers, lack of support, unresponsive management.
Your Inner Self. This is pretty deep stuff and concerns itself with things that are going on mentally with you. Lack of self-confidence, fear of failure, sensitivity to criticism about your performance, etc.
Interpersonal Relationships. Have you surrounded yourself with the best people? Are the people that you interact with on a daily basis there to support you and be your best self? Are there toxic people in your life?
It’s very important to maintain your well-being. The more you can relax and take life as it comes, the more productive you will be. In order to establish equilibrium in your life, you need to be mentally fit. Here are 10 steps to achieve mental fitness.

Become aware of your needs.

  • What are the driving forces of your life? Some examples:
  • The need to be in charge.
  • The need to achieve desired results.
  • The need to build positive relationships.
  • The need to build teamwork.
  • The need to socialize.
  • The need to plan and be organized.

Identify what matters to you, what defines you, what forms your life actions.

Demonstrate behavior that reflects high self-esteem.

  • Maintain emotional control.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive.
  • Be willing to resolve conflict.
  • Learning to say no when you need to.

Work to improve yourself on a continuing basis.

  • Keep learning.
  • Accept challenges.
  • Maintain physical health.
  • Have a positive attitude.

See storm signals coming.

  • Don’t let yourself get easily overwhelmed. Keep planning to keep yourself organized.
  • Maintain your “me time.” If that means going to the gym, relaxing with friends, spending time at church—whatever it takes to make you feel special, do it!
  • If you feel anxiety coming on, take active and positive steps to combat it. If it’s something you can take care of, take the steps to stay balanced. If it’s something that requires help from a professional, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to get the help you need.

Stop negative value judgments.

  • It is negative energy taking up your valuable time.
  • It can lead to a negative attitude.
  • It doesn’t do you any good, and it might ruin relationships.

Allow and plan for success in your life.

  • Build on the strengths you have and the values you live by.
  • Look at mistakes and possible failures as temporary setbacks.
  • Write down the things you’d like to accomplish.
  • Create a vision to live by for yourself.

Be willing to ask for help.

  • Find people who are willing to support and mentor you.
  • Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart.
  • Seek the right type of help you need, when you need it.

Talk it out.

  • Be open and honest. Let people know why you feel the way you do.
  • Be an active listener. Avoid judging, blaming or criticizing.
  • When someone pays you a compliment, take it in, don’t deny it. Say “thank you” because you deserve it.

Avoid procrastination.

  • When you wait until the last minute to do something, stress spikes.
  • Set and meet deadlines.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.

Adopt altruism.

  • Focus your attention on the needs of others. It will make you feel better to give someone a helping hand. You will also realize how much you have to offer in regard to your strengths and talent.
  • Be empathetic. Tune in to people’s “feelings messages.”

Lessening stress in your life is something you need to take seriously to make your life better. Time goes by fast, and you should enjoy the journey as much as you can.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill. To contact him, email