Don't Stress, Be Happy
June 12, 2013

Don’t Stress, Be Happy

Everyone stresses in life. Everyone. Period. However, some people handle that stress in better and healthier ways. In fact, specifically, people who are happy and satisfied in their lives cope with stress in remarkable ways. studied almost 1500 happy people to find out why they were able to sort through and deal with stress better. They wanted to know what it was about being happy that made coping with stress easier. They found five coping methods used by the happy participants.

1) The Problem-Solving Technique: Happy people don’t sit back when a storm comes; they act rather than react. They take active steps to discover the cause of stress, and find ways to either solve or improve their situation. Like any other problem they face in their life, happy people approach stress in a systematic, practical way: find the cause, look for a solution. They outline strategies and set goals to get them back on track.

2) The Positive Cognitive Restructuring Technique: It was American psychiatrist Gerald Jampolsky who said that “it’s not the situation that is causing your stress, it’s your thoughts, and you can change that…” Happy people use a technique that involves looking at a problem or source of stress from a different, more empowering angle. They put the situation in perspective by trying to find a silver lining: “I may have problems, but I am a lot more fortunate than other people; I still have friends, family, etc.” Even for the most severe stressor, such as illness or death of a loved one, they are able to reframe the way they think about the issue. An illness or tragedy, for example, can bring a family closer together, or encourage others to live a healthier life.

3) The Negotiation Technique: If they can’t get exactly what they want out of a situation, happy people will compromise. So, if the source of their stress is an ungrateful boss or boundary issues with a child, they will discuss it and work out a tradeoff. Using the Negotiation Technique essentially means adjusting one’s behavior, attitude, or goals in order to change or adapt to a situation, and in turn reduce the degree of stress involved.

4) The Emotional Regulation Technique: Even when under stress, happy people will try to find a way to relax and calm down – and they will make it a priority. Rather than letting their stress level reach a boiling point, they will seek an outlet to release their excess energy, whether through exercise, deep breathing, meditation, etc. The goal is simple: a situation will seem a lot less desolate when we are not overwhelmed with negative, disempowering emotions. With a balanced mindset comes mental clarity.

5) The Distraction Technique: While it isn’t a good idea to completely avoid thinking about a problem, happy people will occasionally distract themselves by letting loose and having fun. They do things that will make them laugh or otherwise take their mind off of their problem, until they are ready to find a solution. Rather than ruminate excessively, they temporarily step away from a problem until they find themselves in a better state of mind.

For those who struggle to cope and manage with the different stressors in life, these five methods can really help guide them. In 2013, we have tons to stress about including family, self, economy, politics, religion, work, personal time, health, activities, and balancing everything in our lives, and so, so much more. Sometimes all of the stress piles up and really causes us much emotional strain and pressure. I am no stranger to all of that.

I was a bit surprised to see that all of what I do to deal with my stress was listed in Queendom’s results. For instance, I do view all stress with a problem-solution mind. I look at how to resolve what is causing me stress. If that is a project at work, I set aside time to work on the project, and I organize a list of what I need to do. Then I use that list to help me tackle the project. I do not really set out a timeline or outline of what I will do when, but I do have an idea of what needs to be done so that I can finish the project and thus lessen my stress.

I also reframe my situation via the Positive Cognitive Restructuring Technique. I call this finding the silver lining in every situation. I know; it is a bit cliched, but I really do view stress in this way and try to remind myself of the beautiful and good parts of my life, which helps me to remember that whatever is stressing me is likely not worth all that stress, and likely does not matter. Looking for the silver lining is possibly my favorite coping tool when I am stressed out.

I definitely adapt well in situations and find ways to calm down or temporarily distract myself from my stress. That does not mean that I avoid the conflict or that I try to just pretend that I do not have a stressor, but I definitely take time to calm down, relax, and rejuvenate. Often I do this by writing, reading, jogging, or meditating, but I also do this by spending time with my family, listening to music, and traveling. By doing activities to calm me down or things that I love to do, I give myself time to enjoy life so that I can then be at my best to deal with whatever it is that stresses me out.

Queendom sure does some interesting research to help the world. I can’t wait to see what their next press release will provide!

If you would like to take the stress coping quiz, click here.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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