Stress Management Series – Section 4 – Get Back In Control
If you think back over the most stressful times in your life – illness for yourself or a family member, loss of a job or major client, a death in the family – I would venture to say that there’s a common thread through all of these stressful times: Lack of control.
Because home-based entrepreneurs see themselves as pioneers, we pride ourselves on our take-charge attitudes and get-it-done approach to life. Therefore, not being in charge of what’s happening can cause us a great deal of anxiety. We want to fix things, now. When we can’t fix things, or we don’t know how to fix things, we can become very stressed and even freak out a bit.
When faced with a situation where you’re not in control, here are three ways you can maintain an even keel, despite the foul weather:
Find something you CAN control.
When the world is spinning away from you, it can feel like there’s nothing you can control. Not true! In any situation, there’s SOMETHING you can control. Let’s say your major client is having financial difficulties. You may think you are at the whim of their financial ups-and-downs, but you can start regaining a feeling of control by searching out other clients to replace this financially strapped client if they would need to part ways with you. Or you could get your own finances in order and do some proactive belt-tightening so that the loss of one client doesn’t send your world into a tailspin.
Perhaps your website programmer says your whole site needs to be overhauled, and it’s going to cost you BIG money. Instead of retreating to your bed with a bottle of Tylenol, you could get on message boards and ask other developers if their opinion is the same, or you could hire a consultant just for a second opinion. You are NOT helpless, and the sooner you find something to control, the sooner you’ll feel less anxious about the future.
Focus on the moment.
Stress comes when we stop focusing on the here and now and start ruminating over the horrible things we wish hadn’t happened yesterday, or about the horrible things we fear will happen tomorrow. If we ground ourselves in the present moment, we find we’re still alive, still functioning, and still able to make decisions. Once we lose sight of that fact, though, the stress seeps in. When your thoughts start spinning out of control, gently reel them back in. Take a few deep breaths; remind yourself that you are okay, right now, and then find something productive to do in this moment to protect against what you fear.
This may be difficult for some people to do because they honestly don’t believe they can control their thoughts. It’s true that when our mind is spinning out of control, thoughts do seem to just keep popping into your head. One method health professionals use to quiet discomforted patients is with visualization and repeating positive phrases. This actually does help to quiet the mind so you can gain control, once again, of your thought processes. Once you have quieted your mind, you can choose to focus on the here and now and take back control.
Remind yourself of your expertise and experience.
Stress also comes when we are afraid we can’t handle the horrific scenarios we’ve created for ourselves when we doubt our competence. If our client goes away, then what? If the economy tanks further, then what? If our website crashes, then what? If we knew we’d be okay in the future because we have the expertise to handle these situations, the stress about the future would be a thing of the past.
One tip to combat that stress is to remind yourself of all the tough circumstances you’ve already navigated through successfully. Think about situations you went through in the past and how you handled them. While past success is no guarantee of future performance, as they say in the stock market, it still is a pretty good indication of how things will turn out.
Stress Management Series
Download Entire Report [PDF]
I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.
Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis
Required fields are marked *.