#256: English Conversations on Stress Management

by | Nov 2, 2022 | 5 comments

Let me ask you: when you feel stressed, how do you handle it?

How do you feel? How do you manage your stress? And ask for help?

 

With those questions, you might have an immediate emotional response AND you have thoughts you’d like to express but you’re not sure how to say them in English.

You’re missing the precise vocabulary that gives you the ability to say what you want on this topic in English.

 

Your ability to recognize, manage, and reduce chronic stress is essential to your overall well-being.

To do that, you may need to have conversations about stress management with friends, family, and even co-workers in English. 

 

With this Confident English lesson, you’ll expand your vocabulary so you can confidently discuss stress management issues in English including obstacles that increase stress and strategies to manage and minimize stress.

Plus, you’ll also learn 4 tips for strengthening your own stress management skills

English Conversations on Stress Management | Essential Vocabulary

What is stress?

To effectively address stress management, we have to know what stress is. Here’s how we define stress in English: 

  • A negative physical and/or emotional reaction that a person experiences when they encounter difficult situations or experiences.

Although stress is experienced by everyone, the cause of stress and the way stress manifests differs from person to person. 

Common causes of stress include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Workload overwhelm 
    • “I can’t get it all done.”
    • “I can’t catch up.”
    • “I have too much on my plate.”
  • Major life changes
    • “I can’t keep up with life right now.”
    • “I didn’t know this would be so hard.”
    • “I thought this would be easier/more fun.”
  • Financial conditions
    • “I’m totally broke.”
    • “I feel like I can’t take care of my family (or myself) right now.”
    • “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
  • Personal relationships
    • “My heart is broken.”
    • “I don’t know what happened. We used to be so close.”
    • “I thought I could trust her/him.”

What obstacles frequently stand in the way of stress management? 

When we have those stress feelings, it isn’t always easy to get out of them. There are a variety of obstacles that stand in the way (to stand in the way means prevent to (something) from being achieved).

These inlcude: 

  1. Falling prey to the extremes of “hustle” culture
    • Def: The idea and school of thought that one must perform at maximum capacity at all times in order to achieve results/success.
    • For example: do you, or anyone you know, work 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet, which leads to mental, emotional, and financial stress?
      • To make ends meet means to earn enough money to live without getting into debt. 
  2. Accepting stress as a sign of success
  3. Not prioritizing wellness 
  4. Convincing yourself that you’re a lone wolf or a superhero
    • Def: a person who prefers to be without the assistance or company of others 

4 Ways To Manage Stress

 

If you’re struggling with any of those obstacles, here are 4 tips to help you improve your stress management skills so you gain better balance.

 

Tip #1: Find Your Sweet Spot

Finding your sweet spot means that you’ve identified a particular situation, process, quality, or combination of things that is the most effective and beneficial to you.

A key step in stress management is recognizing when you have a full plate. 

    • Def: To have a full plate means to have a schedule or workload that has reached its capacity
  • That means periodically checking in with yourself. 
    • Def: To check in with yourself (or someone else) means to communicate with someone, or yourself, for the purpose of getting a current update

Here are some questions that could help you check in with yourself:

    • Am I neglecting other areas of my life?  
    • Am I finding it difficult to stay focused or get started on a task? 
    • Do I feel moody or on edge?
    • Do I often work after hours and/or during the weekend?
    • Am I often making minor errors in my work? 
    • Do I feel weak, sleep-deprived, and/or constantly exhausted? 

If your answers to the questions sum up to a resounding “Yes”, then you’ve likely got too much on your plate. 

To find that sweet spot in your workload, consider the following actions: 

    • Prioritize and group small, short tasks together to knock off a chunk from your to-do list.
      • Start your day with the big tasks or the tasks that are MOST important to your goals. 
      • Then, tackle the smaller tasks at the end of the day.
      • If you’re at capacity, be honest and politely say “no”. 
        • Ex. At this point in time, I’m unable to take on any additional tasks due to my current workload.
      • Set firm boundaries for your working hours and your personal life. This means identifying when you dedicate your time to your personal life and not compromising on the integrity of that boundary by choosing to work instead.
        • Ex. I will be offline after 5:30 PM. Any emails received later will be answered during working hours.

    Tip #2: Reframe Success

    Similarly, part of ensuring the success of Tip #1 is in understanding that the principles of “hustle culture” shouldn’t be adapted as the sole definition of success. 

    The pathway to success varies from person to person and reframing the way we define success in our minds will help to effectively manage stress. 

    • Def: To reframe means to look at, present, or think of in a new way. 

    To reframe success, consider the following: 

    1) Reassess what success means to you. 

    • From time to time we might see what others are doing and think: “Oh, I should do that too if I want to be successful.”
    • Social media makes this an easy trap given that most people ONLY post their successful/happy moments… not at all the difficult work it took to achieve their goals.
    • When you get that, “Oh I should…” feeling, ask yourself if that is what you really want. Or are you doing it because you THINK you should.
    • Take time to reflect on what makes you satisfied, fulfilled, and stress-free. 
    • Then right down what it is you want and what makes you feel successful. Stay true to what you want and what is meaningful to you.

    2) Create attainable and flexible daily goals that help you progress toward your larger goal, even when you do the absolute minimum.

    • One way we can rephrase our goals is by choosing to start your goal with:

      Today, I’ll show up by…

    To show up means to arrive and be present. Combining the phrase with a low-stakes goal is one way we can actively encourage ourselves to work toward success. 

      • Ex. Today, I’ll show up by reading for 15 minutes. 

    3) Reframe your setbacks as learning experiences.

      • Feelings of frustration and disappointment from a setback are valid. However, if we allow them to color our view, it could lead to more stress
      • To manage stress and help overcome difficult moments, consider using the following phrases to reflect and express your thoughts:
        • I learned that X.
        • Despite X, I was able to understand Y.
        • Through X, I learned Y.
        • Next time, I’ll X.

    4) Celebrate small wins

    Similar to #1, understanding the importance of small steps and recognizing when there’s an opportunity to celebrate a small win is just one other way we can foster enjoyment and growth on a daily basis to fight stress.

    Tip #3: Declutter Your Space & Mind

    With all that said, cultivating and protecting the spaces that allow you to think, work, and/or rest are crucial to stress management. 

    How often have you felt distracted by your environment? Or, felt like it’s impossible to think in a particular part of your house? 

    Decluttering is one way we can clear away feelings of overwhelm or stagnation that drive stress. 

      • Def: To declutter means to tidy or remove things from one place to make it more pleasant or useful.

    To declutter, start with your physical environment:

      • Donate unnecessary or unwanted items
      • Organize your workspace
      • File away or shred old paperwork
      • Declutter your devices (i.e. deleting files, closing tabs, exiting old, inactive group chats)

    Once that is done, you can freely transition to decluttering your mind.

      • Meditating
      • Sitting in a quiet space to reflect, contemplate, and let go of thoughts or feelings that weigh you down
      • Breathing exercises
      • Yoga/Pilates
      • Committing to deleting non-beneficial habits or worn-out obligations from your life

    In addition, decluttering may also be akin to creating elbow room in your life for activities that help you recharge your batteries

      • Def: to regain one’s energy, liveliness, or motivation through a period of rest or recreation.
      • Ex. If running every morning no longer feels enjoyable or serves its initial purpose, opting for something you already enjoy or keeping the time free for spontaneous activities is a great way to reduce overwhelm and stress.

    Tip #4: Accept That It Takes A Village

    Sometimes, despite attempting to manage stress as best as we can, we need a little extra help.

    There comes a time when embracing the idea that it takes a village to achieve certain goals will help to lighten the burden. 

    • Def: It takes a village means many people must cooperate to achieve a goal

    Wave goodbye to any stigmas you may associate with requesting help. 

      • A stigma is a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something, such asking for help.

    Reaching out for help may look like one or all of the following:

    • Reaching out to a friend
    • Calling an anonymous helpline
    • Talking to a career counselor
    • Joining a stress management group
    • Meeting with HR, your manager, or your boss
    • Asking for help from co-workers

    When asking for help, you may find the following phrases useful:

    • I remember you had a similar experience. Would you mind lending me a hand with X?
    • I feel stretched thin and I need more support. Could you help me with X? 
          • Def: the state of investing more time, resources, or energy than one can maintain or sustain. In other words, you don’t have enough time, enough energy, or enough money to do what you want.
    • Do you have time to talk? I feel stressed and would really appreciate a listening ear right now. 

    Imagine you’ve temporarily taken on the workload of a coworker who’s on vacation.

    Over time, you may begin to feel stressed and finally decide to ask your manager, “I feel stretched thin with my current workload and would really appreciate some more support to help me meet the additional deadlines. Could you help me balance these tasks?

    Time to Reflect and Practice

    After you’ve reviewed the lesson, answer the following questions:

    1. How do you manage stress, both at work and outside of work?
    2. Which tips from today’s lesson will help you strengthen your stress management skills? Why?

    Share your answers by using the key vocabulary from today’s lesson. 

    You can share your thoughts – and your questions for me – in the comments below.

        ~ Annemarie

         

        P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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