Taking Charge of Stress by Developing Life Skills
The focus of this article is the importance of developing effective life skills to manage and reduce stress in our lives.
It is no secret that we live in a fast-paced, stressful time. Sources of stress may include such things as demanding jobs; children who need to be run to and picked up again from multiple activities - sports, dance, music lessons, etc; seemingly endless expenses; school deadlines; relationship problems, and so on.
There is a body of literature on so-called "resilient" individuals. According to the American Psychological Association, resilient people "...adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress." They experience distress like anyone else but they recover well.
Some factors that contribute to resilience include having a good support system of friends, family members, and work associates; good self-esteem; and a positive outlook. Having an assortment of skills for dealing with stressful situations is also associated with resilience. Some stress-prevention and stress reduction skills include:
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(1) the ability to problem-solve;
(2) mindfulness or the ability to focus one's attention on the here-and-now without making harmful judgments about self or others;
(3) the ability to evaluate the validity of one's thoughts and beliefs and to replace distorted beliefs and unhelpful thoughts with more accurate beliefs and constructive thoughts (cognitive distortions create a lot of unnecessary emotional pain);
(4) rehearsal, either in imagination or in actual practice, to prepare for challenging upcoming events; and
(5) positive self-coaching or making empowering statements instead of deprecating statements to oneself.
The development of life skills, as is true of the development of any kind of skills (e.g., athletic, musical), takes practice. The payoff for practicing these skills is a more satisfying life with less anxiety, worry, and conflict.