Is it really stress? Or is it just an emotive reaction to a situation we have found overwhelming? Quite often it is the latter.Today, whether in the workplace or our private lives, whenever something confronts us which we are not prepared for we often label it as stress.
However, if we dig deeper, we soon discover stress is our reaction – not the cause. The cause is something completely different. It can be anything from taking on too much at once, having more tasks thrown at us or external factors beyond our control.
All this compounded together will feel overwhelming.
So, let’s ask the question again. Is it stress? I would say it is the expectations we are struggling to manage. Ours and those of other people. We react first because the expectations have overwhelmed us.
For example; I am usually calm when it comes to assessing what needs to be done. But recently I was thrown into a situation which was unfamiliar to me. I had never done the tasks I was asked to do before. I felt overwhelmed.
However, I took a moment to step back and assess the situation. Determined what exactly needed to be done. The I came up with a plan to find the resources to assist with the components I did not know.
How we manage our reactions will depend on our tolerance level. Some of us have high tolerance to “stressful” situations while others have low tolerance.
There are many books by experts out there which offer tips and suggestions to help you. Most of them will be labelled as managing stress. That is to say they are not wrong. I just think they are pitched at the wrong angle.
I recommend you look at these books from the perspective of managing expectations. If you interpret the helpful hints around expectations you may discover, like I did, they are more helpful.
What I have also found most helpful is to stop and think about the situation before jumping straight in. It is better to analyse what is expected first before your reaction turns into stress.