Stress is a common obstacle to productivity and career success.
That’s why being able to manage stress effectively can prove pivotal.
We spoke with psychotherapist Amy Morin, the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, to find out the best way to approach stress management.
Here are nine things mentally strong people do to keep stress from taking over:
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1. They keep their problems in perspective
As stress builds up over time, it’s easy to become frustrated and exaggerate the negative. Mentally strong people, however, understand that stressful situations arise and don’t let the ill effects loom over them. “They reframe their negative thoughts into something more realistic in an effort to keep their stress in proper perspective,” Morin says.
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2. They reassure themselves
3. They focus on what they can control
Certain things are out of your control, and for some people, that simple fact is stressful. People with mental strength, however, know when something is their responsibility. “They spring into action and engage in active problem-solving when they can prevent and address problems, and they don’t waste energy on the things they can’t control,” Morin says.
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4. They remain aware of their sources of stress
A stressor is “a situation that causes us to need to act and that can trigger our body’s stress response,” writes Elizabeth Scott in her book 8 Keys to Stress Management. Identifying these stressors is the first step in stress management, she says.
Mentally strong people are aware of their stressors, and “they’re aware of the warning signs that they’re becoming stressed out,” Morin says. Because of their self-awareness, they are able to “adjust their activities and their lifestyle accordingly so they can combat stress effectively.”
5. They establish healthy boundaries
In her book, Morin writes that mentally strong people avoid giving away their power by establishing strong emotional and physical boundaries. People can establish healthy boundaries by behaving assertively, she says.
It’s all about being responsible for your own actions. “They don’t blame others for infringing on their time or space,” Morin says. “They establish healthy boundaries, speak up when necessary, and take responsibility for getting their needs met.”
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6. They spend time with positive people
7. They prioritize their tasks
Time is perhaps the single most valuable resource, and mentally strong people understand this. They aren’t hesitant to scrap the activities that bring them down, and “they prioritize their tasks so they can focus on getting the most important things done,” Morin says.
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8. They don't forget to have fun
“One of the best ways to combat stress is to engage in leisure activities,” Morin says. It can be anything — hanging with family, engaging in a hobby, watching TV. As long as it relaxes you and improves your mental state, it will be beneficial. People who have developed mental strength know this and take time to relax and enjoy themselves.
9. They use healthy coping skills
There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle anything. When dealing with stress, using alcohol, caffeine, or food would fall in the “wrong way” category, Morin says. Mentally strong people “use healthy coping skills, such as meditation, walking, or journaling to deal with their stress,” she says.
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Living an all-around healthy lifestyle is key. Morin suggests getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity, which can give your mind and body a boost.