How to Boost Your Stress Tolerance: 7 Ways to Cope with Stress Better
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but do you feel like even minor problems just ruin your entire day?
You're not alone. Stress and some people just don’t mix.
Those who get easily thrown off by stress have low stress tolerance.
What Is Stress Tolerance?
Stress tolerance is your ability to cope with and recover from stress. It is the amount of stress you can tolerate without feeling overwhelmed.
But no matter how much of a pain stress is, you can’t completely eliminate it from your life, and you wouldn’t want to.
According to Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann, authors of The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance, a certain amount of stress is a key ingredient of peak performance. In fact, positive stress, or eustress, helps motivate people and improve focus.
But still, we can’t help but stress out. We’re humans, basically designed to stay on the lookout for “what’s wrong.”
There’s daily stressors, like running out of toilet paper or missing the garbage truck. And there’s the fact that we are living in such a scary world. (See how I just stressed myself out?)
According to the 2017 Stress Statistics from the American Psychological Association (APA), the top 5 most common sources of stress in the United States are:
- Future of our nation
- Political climate
Why It’s Important to Raise Your Stress Tolerance
So why should we care about our stress tolerance? Why do we have to proactively work at improving it?
If you’re always stressed, that means you’re constantly in survival mode and that’s really no way to live. I’d like to think that we don’t just want to survive, we want to live. We want to thrive.
So here are the specific benefits you can enjoy if you have high stress tolerance.
1. It improves your mood and happiness.
You can’t really live your life to the fullest if you feel like you’re constantly being “attacked.”
Because that’s what stress does. It attacks and demands you focus on it instead of the positive things in your life.
And with the world as it is today, with the constant worrying news and endless distractions, having a high stress tolerance certainly helps you cope better with daily stresses.
2. It helps you make better decisions
It also improves the way you think and behave because the better you tolerate stress, the better you are at ignoring the ones you know you have no control over.
3. It helps prevent chronic illnesses.
People get stressed so much that they experience physical and psychological symptoms.
According to the APA, many report physical symptoms such as fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and feeling dizzy. Psychological symptoms include experiencing irritability or anger, feeling nervous, lack of energy, and feeling as though you could cry.
A low stress tolerance also makes you vulnerable to high blood pressure, suppression of the immune system and overall poor mental health.
4. It helps you improve your relationships.
Sometimes, our loved ones are the source of our stress. Kids not eating their vegetables, the husband forgot to run an errand, and all the other good stuff.
Improving your stress tolerance to these stress-inducing events in your home and even in your workplace, not only saves from getting angry (and all the wasted energy that goes along with it), but also increases your patience.
Arguments tend to strain relationships. You can prevent those from happening.
5. It enhances work performance and productivity.
Having a high tolerance for stress, especially in the workplace, also benefits your career and reputation.
Stressful situations cloud your judgement, ruin your mood or destroy your focus. But if stress doesn’t easily take you down, you’re able to make better decisions and come up with solid solutions to problems.
How to Improve the Way You Handle Stress
Now to that you have five good reasons to work on increasing your stress tolerance, let find out how to go about it.
Here, I’ll show you five ways to increase stress tolerance so that stressors don’t easily ruin a good day.
1. Believe that you have control over your stress.
Let’s begin with a mindset shift. If you genuinely believe that you can always do something about whatever life throws at you, you’re already on your way.
Feeling helpless exacerbates stress. While you can’t always control what’s causing you stress, you have power over your own reaction.
Remember that you can choose to:
- Walk away from the situation
- Change how you look at the situation
2. Give your stress a name.
Don’t be afraid of stress. A fear of the unknown is also not helping your stress levels. Why not give it a name and call it that when you see it coming?
Pay attention to what causes you stress and label it. Write it a letter and tell it off. Putting your feelings into words can help you feel better.
You can even keep a stress diary for a few weeks to help you become more aware of your stressors and your reactions. Take note of the date, time and place. The describe what you were doing, people you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally.
When you’re aware of what you feel, you’re in a better position to react positively the next time and make better decisions.
3. Change your perspective.
Stress makes us focus on the negatives and ignore the positives.
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, you’re more likely to look for other things that could go wrong and then you expect them to. Now, unless you’re a Navy SEAL in a high-stakes mission, you don’t want to live this way.
A better way to improve the way you handle stress is to focus on the positive. Start doing this by:
- Only using positive words when talking.
- Using words that evoke strength and success.
- Reciting positive affirmations daily.
- Giving yourself credit.
- Sitting up straight.
- Avoiding negative people.
- Saying thank you.
4. Be clear on your core values and stay true to them.
“When things aren't sitting well with you deep inside, it’s because the direction you are taking in life doesn't align with your soul.” Lillian De Jesus
One often-overlooked cause of stress is going against what you believe in. Your values help shape your very being. If you feel like you’re doing things that goes against your core values, then even the little things can stress you. But if you value what you’re doing, stressful situation can even invigorate you.
Look at the bigger picture, look back to your purpose.
5. Allow yourself time to recover.
As much as many of us want to pretend, we aren’t machines that can just be rebooted. Our bodies are not designed to take chronic stress.
In the aftermath of a big stress event in your life, prioritize recovery time. And no, this does not mean smoking, overeating, drinking, or binging on social media.
To unwind effectively, try self-care activities like yoga, meditation, reading, or at least six hours of sleep every night.
6. Prepare your body to handle stress.
Speaking of self-care activities, building self-care habits can go a long way to helping you manage stress better even before you encounter them.
Here are some you can start doing today:
1. Avoid drinking too much coffee and stop smoking. Caffeine and nicotine and stimulants that can worsen your stress levels.
2. Get more quality sleep. Lack of sleep causes stress; stress can lead to lack of sleep.
3. Manage your time better. Prioritize your to-do list and keep realistic goals to prevent overwhelming yourself. Focus on accomplishing your Most Important Tasks (MITs) for the day.
4. Incorporate physical activity in your daily routine. Go for a brisk walk when you feel tense. Or instead of driving, take every opportunity to walk.
5. Learn to say “no” and mean it. Stress comes when you have too much to do but too little time to do them. Learning to say “no” to more responsibility will not only save you from stress, it can also help you become more confident and increase your productivity.
7. Get support.
A strong social support network composed of supportive family and friends and even close co-workers influence how well you handle stress. This type of support doesn’t need to be something official.
Make it a point to cultivate relationships wherein both parties feel a sense of belonging and security and increased sense of self-worth.
Just having someone to talk to, someone you trust, makes a world of difference.
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