The two most common stressors
There are many roads in our life that lead to stress. Work, relationships, personal goals… all of these things naturally come with some road bumps and road bumps usually lead to some stress. We often can’t control when stress comes into our lives, but it’s normal to experience stress now and then and there are healthy ways to deal with it.
However, there are some unhealthy contributors to stress and unhealthy ways to handle it. Two of the most common contributors I have seen (and experienced) are the inability to say ‘no’, and not engaging with help from others.
Inability to say ‘no’
Saying ‘no’ is a skill. Most of us want to make the people around us happy. We want to be seen giving our all and working hard. So whether we are saying ‘yes’ to our boss’s request for us to work late, or saying ‘yes’ to meeting friends on an already busy evening when you are exhausted, saying ‘yes’ is often easier than asking for what you really need.
Knowing to say ‘no’ when you are too stressed is different than just saying ‘no’ because you don’t feel like it. Sometimes, we all have to do things we don’t feel like doing. Understanding the line between when you are pushing yourself and pushing yourself too much is the cornerstone of this skill set.
Reflection questions to develop the skill of saying ‘no’:
- Am I more stressed than I should be? (see: Becoming aware of your stress)
- What are my priorities this week?
- What is outside my priorities? Can these things be moved to another time?
- Have I made time to rest, relax and reflect this week?
Not engaging help from others
The best assets we have been given in our lives to mitigate stress are the people around us. Our relationships should be a support system in the face of stress. Having people you trust to talk to and process what you are going through, people that you can depend on when you feel lost, depressed or angry can keep you from falling off the edge and into burnout. We often also need an outside perspective to be able to see our own problems clearly. However, it can be hard to ask even our closest friends and family for help at times. It can be pride, fear of being an inconvenience, or discomfort with difficult conversations, but no matter the reason, stress only builds and builds if you try to handle it alone.
Reflection questions to build the skill of engaging help from others
- Who in my life can I turn to when I need help?
- What stops me from asking for help when I need it?
- How can I intentionally reach out to people around me when I need them?
- How can I use the people around me to gain clarity and perspective?
Here is the benchmark – Healthy Christian Leaders Manage Stress