Did you know that stress management is a life skill? Unfortunately, from my own research and the findings of others, it seems that the general public’s stress management IQ is painfully low. This is unfortunate because being able to manage stress is a key factor for a successful life.
Some experts suggest that a little stress is good, but high levels of stress are harmful to most people. Too much stress adversely affects health, mood, and productivity. Some people perform and feel better when faced with moderate levels of stress. And some people are able to perform well under highly stressful conditions (Olympic athletes). However, it is also possible to perform well when relaxed (masters of kung fu). In my opinion, that should be the goal: a life that is productive but also virtually stress-free.
Have you noticed that a traffic jam can prompt feelings of stress one day but not the next? Most of us have. This is good news because it suggests that with the right training and preparation, we are able to face any stressor with equanimity.
The Most Important Life Skill
Although we receive intensive formal training in writing and math, learning how to manage stress is left entirely to chance. Many people, overwhelmed by bills and other challenges, resort to destructive ways of coping, with drugs and alcohol being the most common. That’s why stress management training is such an important life skill.
Most experts agree that there are at least three broad, trainable skill sets or “competencies” people can use to manage stress nondestructively. They are:
- Reducing or eliminating the sources of stress
- Practicing techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation
- Thought management
I address each of these life skills in detail in my new book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. This book shows how to use some simple strategies to significantly reduce your stress, promote responsibility, increase your effectiveness, improve your relationships, and truly enjoy life’s experiences.
Stress management is a life skill that is both trainable and beneficial. This insight leaves us with a challenge: Learn techniques for managing stress AND to so educate our children.