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Life is full of stressful situations that are sometimes simply beyond your control. perhaps your flight is delayed, or maybe your babysitter cancels last minute, unforeseen circumstances can sometimes make it feel like the sky is falling. Have no fear, Chicken Little — sometimes the best way to handle stress is to simply accept it.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkely, accepting life’s daily stressors can have mental health benefits. The researchers found that practicing acceptance helped people feel less upset by their daily stressors. These stressors have an effect on our long-term happiness and mental well-being.
Through a little bit of acceptance, understanding and some different coping mechanisms, managing and accepting stress can be as easy as a deep breath and a shift in perspective. If you need help accepting your stressors, keep reading for some insightful tips.
Acceptance is a useful tool to relieve stress because it puts you in the driver's seat of your emotions. Instead of feeling like you are being ruled by stress, acceptance provides you with full control of your reactions to stressors. Acceptance is an attitude — not an action — that can change your perception on your problems simply through your outlook.
It’s important to note that acceptance is not passivity, but perception. An important component of mindfulness, acceptance is your ability to accept negative emotions without judging them. This is an essential part to managing your stress rather than it managing you.
In order to accept your stress, you must identify and understand your emotions. The Big Eight Emotions are anger, sadness, fear, joy, interest, surprise, disgust and shame, which can be mixed to make any of the secondary emotions. These emotions are not necessarily wired into our bodies but learned through our interactions, culture and relationships.
When you feel a secondary emotion like stress, it is important to determine the primary emotion that is triggering that feeling. This can help you choose the action that is the most helpful to ease the situation.
THE 4 A’S
According to The Mayo Clinic, the 4 A’s are essentials in the toolkit for managing stress: avoid, alter, accept and adapt. First, it’s important to learn how to say “no.” This can sometimes be easier said than done. By learning to plan ahead, arranging for upcoming obligations and balancing your plate, you will simply avoid stressful situations.
Next, alter your priorities. It is important that you reevaluate your to do list and also recognize that you are in control and have every right to change your reality. The last step is to adapt. By adjusting your standards, reframing the issue and looking at the big picture, you can make a stressful situation seem less daunting.
The next time you are feeling stressed, try some self-care to turn your mood around. Meditation, reading a book or simply taking a nap can give your mind a break and present a fresh perspective. When you take care of your mind and body, external forces and events will have less impact on your mental and emotional well-being.
Positive affirmations can also be beneficial when looking to relieve stress through acceptance. Try making a list of three to four things that you like about yourself and say them in the mirror every morning. This subconsciously puts you in a more positive headspace while preparing you to take on the day.
Take a few deep breaths and remember that everything is temporary. By accepting what is stressing you, you have more control and can take tangible steps to resolving the issue. At the end of the day, stress and anxiety are both internal emotions that can hold you hostage in a vicious cycle. Step outside yourself, reflect and accept some things you simply cannot control.