How to manage stress coming from people close to you?



This is a question that came from one of the participants from the ‘Boost your resilience!’ course. And I’ve heard it many times before.

Sometimes we think that we are quite good at stress management. It’s the others who need some (our?) help.

As I said before (and I will say it again…): “It’s not what happens to us but how we look at what happens to us, which causes our stress!”
And we all look at things differently.

Just look at the current crisis.

I look at it in a certain way and therefore I react in a certain way.
My partner/brother/colleague looks at it differently and therefore he reacts differently.
But HIS way of reacting, causes ME stress…

Sounds familiar?

What do I need to do? I need to manage MY stress, even when the stress comes from people close to me.
And how do I do this?

By sticking to my ‘stress management formula’:

Stress management = working on my (stressors + buffer + perception)

Working on my buffer:

I ALWAYS need to work on my buffer. When my buffer is weak, stressors have a much bigger impact on me, and my stress reaction is going to be higher. So… the more ‘zen’ I am, the less I will be impacted. In this case: enough sleep and the capability to be able to calm myself down are going to be key.

We all know how people get on our nerves much more easily after a bad night’s sleep…

Also… me trying to reason with somebody when I’m stressed myself or when I’m calm… it is going to have a very different outcome!

Working on my stressors:

My stressor in this case is the stressed person. You might have noticed that stress can be contagious. His stress might ‘infect’ me too.
One strategy could be to avoid this person. No contact, no stress.

Another strategy could be to try and calm down that person. (You could even send them to one of my courses ;-D)
But if the previous strategies don’t work: I’ll have to work on myself… and use all the strategies I have, to stay calm (and I’m back at ‘working on my buffer), despite him being stressed next to me… Because the moment I get stressed as well… I’m no longer my best self and … I’m potentially causing damage in my body.

Working on my perception:

If I see him as my big stressor, chances are that I’m not going to be very happy about that.

I might even start to resent him. And guess what: the more I resent him, the more I will be stressed. Therefore, it will be important to try and understand him, to show empathy, to also see the positive things he does… in order to feel less stress myself… ;-D

That will, of course, be easier when I’m quite calm and I’m back at … ‘working on my buffer’.

Isn’t it amazing how these elements are so linked and how they are all so important in the ‘Stress management formula’?

Good luck! And remember… #youalwayshaveachoice #YAHAC