Optimal Response to Stress and Anxiety

Optimal Response to Stress and Anxiety

The first step to managing stress is getting to know yourself. Start the process by reflecting on what your values are and how they tie into your life. - Litevi

I like to think of myself as your stress well curator. I look for helpful stress management tips and tools to add to your tool kit so you don’t have to. However, it never fails that when I do a search for stress-related articles, gloom and doom always pop up. In order to get the helpful information, I first have to sift through all the results that tell us how awful stress is and that it will kill you. Sheesh! We get it. Stress, left unchecked can cause problems, but if you learn how to manage the inevitable stress that will occur in life, you can thrive. 


One way to improve your stress response is to focus on your values. Alice Boyes, Ph. D. contributed a great article to Psychology Today that highlights how your values can help you handle the challenges that life throws at you. In How to Respnde Optimally to Stress and Anxiety Boyes provides seven practical tips on how to “recommit to your values when an unexpected (or expected) stressor throws you for a loop.”


Many of the articles and tools that give tips on stress management will often focus on things like breathing, yoga, relaxation, exercise and etc which are all great to have in your tool kit. However, some things that often get pushed aside are practices like mindfulness and self-reflection. I am a huge proponent of those practical approaches as they contribute to interpersonal growth, allowing for better adaptation to change. 


Knowing your values falls along those lines. There are several research articles that show the link between reflecting on one's values and the ability to build resilience. “In overwhelming and frightening moments, stress can be prevented or managed by self-disciplined contemplation of core values and goals” David Brendel states in a Harvard Business Review article. Below are the steps Boyes provides us with to connect and enact our values during those times:


  1. Be clear on what enacting your values look like

  2. Observe what naturally helps you do the above

  3. Take the other person’s perspective

  4. Practice enacting your values more in all circumstances

  5. Notice that some values naturally align with managing stressful situations and encounters

  6. Include ways of enacting your values that feel like self-care or a treat

  7. Branch out from what you usually do


Boyes goes into more detail for each step in her article; however, the starting place before you can even jump into these steps is to first establish and understand what your core values are. Take some time to reflect on what’s important to you. I find one of the best ways to get to know yourself and your values is to start a journal so you can really think about it and have something to look back upon in reflection. 


The first step to managing stress is getting to know yourself. Start the process by reflecting on what your values are and how they tie into your life. Then practice using Boyes’ practical steps to activate them regularly so you can be better equipped to handle stress triggers. 


Related articles

How to Respond Optimally to Stress and Anxiety

Manage Stress by Knowing What You Value by David Brendel



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