5 Ways to manage Stress with Confidence
The circumstances I faced during my youth conditioned me to think that trusting others was dangerous and that my levels of sensitivity wouldn’t allow me to face stress or challenging situations without being capable of recovering after the storm.
This meant that I would avoid as much as I could conflict or challenge because I would not believe in my capability of resilience, which translated into putting on a mask and setting up some well-made brick walls around me to protect myself from others or any potential difficulties.
Has this ever happened to you? Feeling incapable of truly connecting with others because of the fear of being hurt? Or perhaps, avoiding to voice your desires and needs because of the fear of rejection?
Lack of confidence in your abilities and resilience potential could be a problem when facing sources of unexpected stress.
You know that daring to take the next step in your career or setting certain boundaries in a relationship will stir things up and you are not sure you will make it through.
Ultimately, confidence is believing you will be able to deal or learn to live with whatever comes your way. But how?
THE VERY FIRST STEP: Recognise your sources of stress.
The first step to take when you want to deal with it confidently is becoming aware of what exactly you need and want to deal with.
Identifying your sources of stress is crucial, so make a list of the things which cause you stress.
1. Responding instead of reacting
Once you are aware of what your sources of stress are, you can change from reacting to stress to responding instead.
A response requires time that will allow you to reflect on your possibilities, increasing the likelihood of your success when dealing with challenges that invariably come with daily living.
This is a skill that needs to be trained.
First of all, you have to recognise when you are reacting. A simple question you could ask is: “Is this a matter of life or death?”
It doesn’t mean it is not important. However, that question allows you to stop for a second to evaluate the situation. This gives you time to think about how you could start dealing with it in a helpful way.
2. Remember your strengths
It is important to recognise what is within you and your environment that will help you in dealing with the problem.
Think of past stressful experiences you have dealt with successfully and extract what was useful when confronting them.
Do the following exercise to support you in recognising your strengths and keep it close to use when needed.
3. Be aware of what is important to you, not to others. It is about what yOU want.
It is vital that you recognise your desires, what makes your heart sing. Be clear on what your values are, who you want to be, how you want to live.
Make your principles clear and try to honour them every step of the way. You want to be Bold and Courageous? Then define what that means for you and remember that, when dealing with stress.
If pressing that sent button to ask for a promotion is your way of being courageous right now, then whatever the outcome is you would have been living according to your values.
If telling the truth and being honest with someone means being Brave for you, then whatever the outcome is you are letting yourself be guided by your principles.
You have honoured who you want to be, who you are. So, you will be increasing your self-esteem and building your confidence up by commemorating your true self.
4. Learn to say NO
Such a difficult word sometimes, isn’t it?
You know deep inside you would like to say “no” to so many things, yet you keep overextending yourself and doing what others want and need.
The importance of saying “no” lays in nurturing your relationship with yourself. If you want to be true to yourself, and you are aware of what you want, following through with those desires will not only increase your bond with yourself but your self-belief prioritising what is most important for you. Then you will eventually start to feel more calm and grounded.
Others will get to know you better, they will know what to expect and they will be aware of what is important for you and they should respect it. It is your life you are living. Don’t let people take it away from you.
It does not mean that you stop making efforts for other people, but there is a limit that comes with the awareness of what you are willing to do and sacrifice and what you are not.
Make a list of what you are tolerating, what you would like to say no to and note down where you would be flexible, in which circumstances you would change your priority list.
If you are someone who feels guilty saying no because you like to help others, then I want to encourage you to reflect on what happens when you overextend. If you do more than what you really feel able to, or you have the energy for at that point, you might suffer the consequences of burnout. This means if you are kind to yourself, you will need to rest and recover, perhaps for more time than what you expected. Time in which you can’t actually help others.
When under stress, your nervous system gets hyperactivated. To help your system switch from aroused mode to calm mode, you can use numerous breathing techniques.
It is important to know you are breathing properly, using the diaphragm. This short video shows you how:
Sometimes you will need more than a few breaths to be able to calm the mind. So if it doesn’t work for you, don’t worry, it is possible that you need more than a couple of conscious deep breaths.
One breathing technique that I would like to share with you is the 4-7-8 breathing. To start, place the tip of your tongue behind your teeth and leave it there during the exercise. Exhale through your mouth while making a whoosh sound. Exhale completely through your mouth. Close it and breathe in through your nose while mentally counting to four. Hold your breath while counting to seven. Breathe out again through your mouth counting to eight. Repeat the breathing exercise for a total of four complete breaths.
In conclusion, the brain needs time to give a more informed response, so when you feel emotional, gain perspective by looking at those emotions and where they might be coming from making space for them, before taking action.
Don’t forget you have strengths that you have used successfully in the past, so once you identify them, you can use them again in the future.
Know who you are and what you desire the most, and then start honouring your true self by making choices that will support you in becoming the best version of you.
Prioritise and start saying no, setting those boundaries and taking care of yourself will help you increase your self-esteem and self-belief.
Finally, do not forget to consciously breathe, it will support you in giving yourself time to respond instead of reacting and will help to calm your aroused brain.
Do you want to be part of The Confidence Hub to continue to work on the foundations to authentic confidence? Join us here.