Dealing with Your Stress in a Difficult Economy

By David Ryback, Ph.D.

Reading the headlines these days is an exercise in dealing with stress.  Whether we’re looking at the national scene or what’s happening in our own back yard, the challenge is great.  So how do you deal with those pesky stressful emotions?

One of the most important components of emotional intelligence is the ability to master our own emotions—those that disrupt and interfere with our otherwise smooth dealing with the everyday challenges we meet to make business flow smoothly.

One popular term for creating mastery over negative emotions is “mindfulness,” the ability to just become more fully aware of what we’re feeling inside our skin.  Somehow, that full awareness has the function of decreasing the intensity of the stressful feeling.

Research at the University of Montreal and the University of California has proven that this works.  Somehow, just labeling your feelings gives you at least some sense of control over them, even when you’re feeling highly anxious about a legal or financial problem.  Doing so gives you a bit of distance from the sense of helplessness usually accompanying anxiety.  By becoming a witness to your own emotion, you create some distance from it, because the “witness” is not as anxious as the “you” before such awareness.

Although this may sound a bit off the beaten track, this self-observation is the basis of the calming effect of meditation.  Negative emotions such as anger and the sense of failure when things don’t work out as planned can also be lessened by such mindful “witnessing.”  The self-awareness (another component of emotional intelligence) allows you to manage negative emotions more effectively and to bounce back to your successful, confident self more quickly.  This means more productive time and a happier disposition.

So, no matter what’s happening across the nation or in your own back yard, you still have control over how you deal with your feelings.  Be mindful and you can return to your successful and confident self more readily.


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