This article was co-written by Amber Williams and Shannon Traurig, former CPTC research assistants.
Stress Management: Avoid Stress Whenever Possible
We all need to learn to manage challenges we face in our lives. The CPTC stress management plan can help! The plan includes strategies that teach how to more effectively manage stress by dealing with the problem. Some of these strategies are addressed in pieces available at the links below:
- Identify and then realistically assess challenges (including how to break down problems into manageable steps)
- Conserve energy to more efficiently tackle challenges
This piece focuses on avoiding obstacles that cause stress — whenever wise and possible.
When to Avoid Certain Problems
There are some problems that deserve full and focused attention. Others are undeserving of our energy and can be avoided. There are some problems that only generate stress because we allow ourselves to be drawn into them. They trigger us to feel stressed once we are exposed to their negative influence. We should take smart, active steps to avoid exposure to these types of problems. Life is complicated enough without having to deal with stuff that can be avoided!
When it’s Wise and Possible
Avoidance shouldn’t always be the go-to strategy to manage stress. For example, if school stresses you out, it’s not a good idea to avoid homework. If a conflict between good friends is creating stress, the wise thing to do is work through it, not pretend it’s not happening.
We are wise when we focus our energy and choose not to waste it on unnecessary distractions. We are smart when we avoid approaching triggers that create stress.
Bullying is a perfect example. If a bully is in the classroom, he or she may need to be confronted by involving responsible adults. If a bully is in the neighborhood and only acts up if you walk by his or her house, the smartest thing to do is avoid the bully altogether by choosing a different route.
We gain power when we focus our energies. Steering clear of certain trouble is an act of strength.
Trust Your Intuition
Sometimes your body signals that you are approaching danger. It may be butterflies in your stomach, or the hair on your neck standing on end. You may have an uneasy feeling. You need to listen to those signals and consider changing your course. Sometimes our bodies send us other signals that tell us we’ve gone beyond our limits, even when our brains tell us we are handling it. Belly pains. Headaches. Fatigue. Trust these bodily sensations as a signal to slow down or back off.
Stressors Include People, Places, Events and Actions
Stressors can be divided into different categories:
- People who stress us out
- Places where we are more likely to find trouble
- Things (events or actions) we might take part in that risk leading us to trouble or that trigger a cycle of self-doubt or distress
Triggers differ for each of us, but we all have them. You must learn to avoid as many triggers as possible and instead focus your energy on what will lead you to success and happiness.
If you’ve struggled with stress previously, a key to moving forward is recognizing what’s brought you down in the past. For example, you should avoid certain peers with whom you’ve shared past bad habits and who may strongly and negatively influence you.
Temporarily Avoiding Thoughts
Your thoughts may offer solutions to your problems. But sometimes, thoughts themselves can be the source of stress! We all need some time to escape our thoughts and create real opportunities to relax. Be empowered by finding healthy ways to escape — read Take Instant Vacations to learn more. We each have the ability to get out of our own heads.
Create a Safe Space
It’s much easier to avoid problems from a distance than close-up. Many problems do not have to be confronted. Rather, you’re best off avoiding them in the first place. Creating space between yourself and what stresses you out is an act of great bravery! It’s simple when you think about it. If you know something is going to stress you out, avoid it whenever wise and possible.