Tackle Your Stress Head On!

Stress is, unfortunately, an aspect of life which is often unavoidable. However, if you can identify the source of your stress, you will be much more likely to manage it.

Sometimes the source of stress will be easy to pinpoint, such as an exam for students, the beginning or end of the fiscal year for professionals, the opening night of a performance for musicians or dancers, or a big game or competition for athletes. It’s not necessarily the stress itself that is the problem, but rather how we choose to handle it.

When stress hits, if an individual is unprepared to deal with it, performance and in many cases well-being, can often decline. However, having an action-plan for stress can help individuals deal effectively with stress and potentially move on from it much quicker.

Problem-Solving and Emotion-Focused Coping

Generally speaking, there are two categories of managing or coping with stress. One category, problem-solving coping, is aimed at directly dealing with the source of the stress. The other strategy, emotion-focused coping, targets one’s emotional reactions to the stress, without actually confronting the source of stress.

Of the two, the problem-solving approach is the best, most effective way of dealing with stress. The next time you feel or perceive stress, try to be proactive and take a problem-solving approach. Identify the source of your stress – is it an exam, an important talk, a dance recital, or a playoff game? Once you have, you can prioritize your actions and set goals to help direct your attention towards meeting the demands of the stress head-on.

“Stress is, unfortunately, an aspect of life which is often unavoidable. However, if you can identify the source of your stress, you will be much more likely to manage it.”

The reason why this approach is most effective is simple; identifying the source and devising a plan actually helps you to reduce or modify the source of the stress, as opposed to just momentarily feeling better. So, when you feel stress coming on, try and be positive and understand that stress can be managed if attacked with an effective, problem-solving approach.

In the event that you can’t use the problem-solving approach, emotion-focused coping can at least help you minimize the impact of the stress. Ideally though, if you are able to take action and focus on the actual source of stress, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to reduce the stress and increase both your performance and your well-being.

Check out more articles written by Dr. Patrick Young here!

Dr. Patrick Young
Dr. Patrick Young is a certified consult within the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP), and specializes in providing individuals with the psychological tools necessary to reach their full potential. He is an expert in sport, exercise, and performance psychology and has consulted with NCAA Division I and II athletes, junior college athletes, and amateur athletes of all ages. In addition to athletes, Dr. Young consults with students, business executives, and individuals within the performing arts. Dr. Young is also a Professor of Psychology at Wingate University, where he teaches Sport and Exercise Psychology, Performance Psychology and Health Psychology, and has authored several articles within peer-reviewed journals and regularly contributes sport and performance based articles on Shrinktank.com.


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