As airlines cancelled more than 4,500 flights this month due to winter storm Harper, thousands of travelers were tearing their hair out over managing their schedules. I was one of them.
At the time of the cancellations, what really needed managing was our stress levels.
Much like joy and excitement, we have all experienced stress on a daily or even hourly basis. Stress can build up slowly, or sometimes it can strike suddenly and with great intensity.
Stress is the interpretation developed when we face a threatening or challenging event.
Chronic anger or depression makes us vulnerable to all kinds of problems with health and well-being. Fear, anger, other negative emotions and how we handle them are closely related to stress. So how do we deal with this monster when it arrives?
If you are interested in measuring your current stress level, take a time for Social Readjustment Rating Scale created by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe to examine the number of stressful life events.
How can we handle our stress?
We often overestimate the duration of our bad moods and underestimate our capacity to adopt and bounce back from traumas. Nevertheless, there are countless means to ease your stress, as there are countless sources of stress in our everyday life.
Grade your stress level
Make a journal, and write down what you were most stressed about today. Then, analyze the emotion you had at the time.
For example, if you are stressed because you turned in your paper after the due date and your professor didn’t accept it, your stress journal might look like:
Embarrassed (40 percent), Anger (30 percent), Shame (30 percent).
After few days of analyzing your stress, you could get to the source of it right away. By writing about your stress, you start to focus more on relieving your feelings rather than the event itself, which is a much more productive use of your time.
The facial feedback hypothesis — the idea that facial expressions can have an effect on emotional experience — suggests that the act of smiling broadly, even if you aren’t actually happy at the moment, can lift your mood. You can become less irritated than you really are by lifting up your cheeks when you find out your flight was cancelled.
Also, you can adjust your persona to regulate your emotions by impersonating someone. Your persona is something you can use to both make an impression and conceal your true self, and imitating someone is a great way to put on a persona for your advantage.
For example, you can pretend to be a telephone operator who listens to angry customers complain, and respond to their concerns. This allows you to validate frustrations and process them rationally.
Internal locus of control / External locus of control
The internal locus of control is the belief that we control our own fate, whereas external locus of control is the belief that chance or outside forces beyond our control determine our fate.
We would be better off embracing the control we have over our own lives rather than relinquishing our control to unknown externalities.
Obviously, there are some factors that we are not capable of controlling, such as the weather and traffic. However, we can control the impacts of those events by believing that we have a power to overcome those obstacles.
Be a friend to your stress
The most difficult but effective method to handle stress is to not consider events as stressors but as necessary lessons that eventually lead to your wellbeing.
As soon as we perceive an event as a stressor, we develop the stress, and that feeling of frustration overwhelms us.
Next time your flight is cancelled — and throughout the semester — you can be out of the woods by utilizing the stress-management techniques.