Secrets To Finding Personal Control Over Stress

1
Introduction: Mental Stress Relief and Personality Factors

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You can develop personality traits that lead to stress relief and feelings of personal freedom. John Lund/ Getty Images

It’s well documented that a significant proportion of stress can be attributed to our perceptions of events, and how we process what we’re experiencing. That is to say, two people can experience the exact same set of circumstances and one person will be energized and excited while the other feels stressed and overwhelmed. A third person in the same situation may feel some stress, but not to the point of feeling overwhelmed. The differences in these reactions can translate into a greater feeling of personal happiness and life satisfaction, and even improved health for those who feel less stressed by the events of their lives. What causes one person to experience a sense of stress and frustration when another person may feel calm or energized?

Personality Factors And Stress Relief
Some of us are just born more reactive to stress. Nurses in hospitals have been able to identify such differences in the temperaments of babies who are only one day old! Some infants react more negatively to physical stimulation or change than others who remain relatively unfazed. These temperament changes are inborn and enduring, but can be minimized to an extent with childhood experiences and efforts made as adults. These resources on positive self talk, as well as the rest of the tips (below) in this article, can help your stress level whether or not you’re naturally sensitive to stress.

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Thought Pattterns: Optimism, Perfectionism, and Type A Personality

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Optimism can bring many stress relief benefits, as well as improved health and increased success. Andy Ryan/ Getty Images

Optimists have been found to be healthier and happiness, as well as more successful in life. Optimists tend to minimize and de-personalize the negative events that occur in their lives while really focusing on and taking personal credit for the positive events. This resorts to increased resilience as well as greater confidence, stronger personal relationships, and other positive life events. While some people are more naturally prone to optimism than others, optimism is also a habitual thinking pattern that can be learned and cultivated. Other thinking styles that affect people’s stress levels (and the stress levels of those around us) include Type A personality features and perfectionistic tendencies. 

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Healthy Physical Habits for Stress Relief

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BJI / Blue Jean Images/ Getty Images

We all function better when our bodies are in prime condition. Therefore, those who take better care of themselves in general usually have the reserves to handle stressful situations better than those who don’t take care of themselves as well, and better than they themselves would if they hadn’t taken such good care of themselves. We tend to underestimate the value of things like getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise. However, such healthy habits can put you into a better position to handle stress that comes into your life. The following resources can help you to better care for your body so you can better handle the stress that comes.

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Quick Coping Skills To Contribute To Stress Relief

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Jasper Cole/ Getty Images. Jasper Cole/ Getty Images

Those who have healthy coping skills in the face of stressful situations can more quickly recover from the major and minor stressors that come each day. While there are many ways to relieve stress, each with their own benefits, it’s important to have a few stress relievers on hand that you can use in a moment of frustration or when you’re feeling overwhelmed that will turn off your body’s stress response and return your body’s systems to a state of equilibrium (as the fight-or-flight response creates many physiological changes that can make a calm reaction more difficult), so that you can respond to stressful situations in a rational manner rather than reacting in a less healthy way. The following stress relievers can be used to help you quickly recover when you’re feeling stressed.

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How An Internal Locus Of Control Can Lead To Stress Relief

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Those who feel in control of their circumstances (internal locus of control) experience less stress. Yasuhide Fumoto/Getty Images

The term ‘locus of control’ refers to whether you feel your life is controlled by you or by forces outside yourself. Those with an internal locus of control feel that they have choice in their lives and control over their circumstances; conversely, those with an external locus of control feel more at the mercy of external events. As you may have guessed, those with a more internal locus of control tend to feel happier, more free, and less stress. They also enjoy better health (likely because they experience less of the damaging chronic stress that can come from feeling powerless), and are more satisfied with life in general. Perhaps not surprisingly, those with an external locus of control are more susceptible to depression as well as other health problems, and tend to keep themselves in situations where they will experience additional stress, feeling powerless to change their own circumstances, which just adds to their stress load. Your locus of control can be shaped by events in your childhood or adulthood (whether you were able to have a strong impact on your environment can lead to a sense of empowerment or of learned helplessness) and perpetuated by habitual thinking patterns. If you feel your locus of control could use a shift, these techniques can help.

Source:
Myers, David G., Ph.D. The Pursuit of Happiness. Avon Books, New York.

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