In order to cope well with stress in everyday life, the focus should be on acting responsibly and in a health-conscious manner.
What is stress?
Stress is a physical and psychological process. It is triggered when we are confronted with challenging situations and our attempts to cope with them, using the resources at our disposal, are not successful. This upsets the balance of our physical and psychological functioning – and then we speak of stress. From an evolutionary perspective, stress is a biologically meaningful and healthy mechanism that ensures human survival. What is important is that we feel able to actively influence and regulate stress and how it affects us.
How can I improve my stress management?
Not every stressful experience is automatically hazardous to health. Positively experienced stress is also called eustress – it motivates us and drives us to achieve our goals. Therefore, it is important that we notice when our stress perception turns negative and becomes a burden. Stress can be regarded as comprising three components. If we identify these for ourselves, we can use that as the starting point for our stress management:
This component relates to situations and demands that regularly trigger a stressful experience for you personally. These can be, for example, social conflicts, performance demands or having to deal with too many tasks at once.
This component is about your personal assessment of the situation and your coping skills. This could take the form of stress-reinforcing thoughts such as "I have to please everyone", for example.
This component relates to your specific behaviour and how increased stress affects you. This could be reduced performance or more mistakes at work, physical consequences such as headaches and sleep problems, or emotions such as anxiety and anger.
If you can identify these three levels for yourself, you have a helpful starting point for active stress management. There are three pillars that provide orientation and relate to the previously described components of how we experience stress.
Three pillars of stress management