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Stress, Part Two: To Control the Stress, Stress the Control

posted by KWCS Staff

To Control the Stress, Stress the Control

Distress Signals

One of the leading causes of stress is feeling a lack of control in our lives. When we constantly feel powerless and at the mercy of other people or circumstances, distress sets in, both physically and emotionally. To cope with a lack of control, there are several steps we can take:

Reframe the Situation -- see it in a different way so that it becomes less significant and stressful

Reframing leads to proper perspective. Most stress comes from the way we think about a situation, so we can reduce stress by changing the way we think about those situations. Identify a stress trigger and then ask:

  • Is there a different perspective I can take on this situation?
  • Are there some hidden benefits or silver linings to this situation?
  • How significant is this situation to The Big Picture?
  • What can I learn from this situation?

If you can't think of a way to reframe, ask a friend or two if they can see a different point of view. Learning to reframe will give us more emotional control, stability, and tranquility. This is also a situation that a counsellor can help with.


Change the circumstances causing the stress

Where possible, don't stay in a stressful situation. It's sometimes necessary to put some distance between you and the cause of the stress, either physical distance or emotional distance. If, for example, a specific person causes you persistent stress, minimize contact. If family relationships are toxic, get help.

Consequences must be weighed carefully but failing to take action can often leave us in a situation where we pay more for staying than we would for making a big change. Our counsellors can help you with creating a plan even if you only come for a single session, for example at our weekly Walk In Counselling Clinic.


Increase your tolerance for distress. You can learn to handle more stress

There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Exercise and Fitness: These not only improve health, they give us a greater ability to handle emotional turmoil such as fear, doubt, and insecurity.
  2. Socializing and Support Groups: A sense of belonging and service to others gives us more confidence, security and satisfaction. Being together gives us a place to love and be loved. When those things are part of our lives, we can handle much more distress and turmoil because we are not alone.
  3. Emotional Releases: Getting out our frustration helps lessen the pressure. Release can be found in everything from meditation and mindfulness, to sports, or venting to a friend. Not all negative feelings can be changed into positive ones, but they can be transformed into neutral ones.

You might also be interested in checking out the Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing for additional ideas.


Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Along with control, we need satisfaction in our lives. How do we find such fulfillment?



Satisfaction and contentment come when we love and are loved. Stay close to the significant people in your life. Quality time spent on all our relationships enhances intimacy at every level -- with our partners, kids, and friends. We must be open and emotionally available, sharing our feelings and developing trust.



To be satisfied in life, we must feel we're valued for who we are. That doesn't mean we don't have to work at improving ourselves, but we must accept ourselves while we're working on the rough spots. We must also accept the people in our lives for who they are. If we're constantly trying to change them, we'll never experience peace or satisfaction. We can encourage people to change, but we must leave the change itself to them.



To be satisfied, we must be recognized for who we are and what we do. Recognition need not be selfish. If we do things purely for credit and recognition, that's self-centred. But there's nothing wrong with wanting to be seen as competent, valued, and needed. To qualify for recognition, we must contribute. Genuine self esteem doesn't come from people constantly telling us how wonderful we are, even if we do nothing. It comes from serving, doing a good job, and not expecting credit.



Change and personal growth are necessary for true satisfaction. We must constantly be stretching and maturing in every area of our lives: physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Part of growth is learning and sharing. When we see ourselves making progress, it gives us a sense of satisfaction and value. As we grow, people respond to us more positively and that enhances all our relationships leading to greater fulfillment, confidence, and joy.


A Selfless Outlook

A key factor in personal satisfaction is the willingness to reach out.

  • Help others
  • Take an interest in the struggles of those around you
  • Praise others when they do a good job
  • Take time to express appreciation
  • Share your time, energy, and talents
  • Learn to see things from the perspective of others. Empathize.


Our next post will offer some practical suggestions for stress-busting.