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Learning to effectively manage your stress levels can contribute to a happier, healthier life.

Everybody has different stress levels, and different things stress each person differently.

Heck, even the same things stress each person differently.

In order to effectively manage your stress levels, you first need to be able to identify what level and type of stress you are experiencing.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, and the following information is just from my own experience and research.  If you feel that your stress has become more than you can deal with, please seek professional assistance.

Basic Stress Management

Before we dive into the different levels of stress, it should be noted that there are some basic things you can do to deal with any type of stress.  The 5 general ways to beat stress are:

  1. Get clear about your goals and values
  2. Develop positive relationships, with yourself and others
  3. Restructure your life to provide more relaxation
  4. Eat right
  5. Exercise

These basic stress-busters are well known, yet the world still seems to be so full of stress. Why??

Stress Tests

We’re all different.  We’re all unique.  That’s a good thing.

And it stands to follow that with all that uniqueness, different people will respond in different ways in very similar situations. Therefore different people will need different stress management plans.

There are tests available that can help each person understand their particular type of stress, which helps them better understand themselves. Armed with this knowledge, an approach to managing that stress can be developed.

And then you can effectively manage your stress levels.

As you examine your own stress levels and triggers, keep these in mind so you are better able to objectively look at each of the different stress levels.

The following stress levels were identified and described by Dr. Hans Selye and Dr. Richard Earle of the Canadian Institute of Stress. The names and types are their creation and belong to them.

Type 1 – The Speed Freak

This level of stress is characterized by the unrelenting pursuit of always giving 110%.  (which isn’t really possible anyway, but let’s not go into that here).Stop stressing and start succeeding! Learn how you can effectively manage you stress at any level.

What it looks like

Speed Freaks are often perfectionists and usually type A personalities.  You’ll find that they speak fast and have very little patience.  They have learned that you have to work hard to succeed, so they figure that if a little is good, a lot is better.

Confident that hard work pays off, they figure that if they work all the time they are guaranteed success.

Of course, there are no guarantees in life, not even if you work hard.  It’s also known that if you run full-throttle all the time you just end up stressing over the minor issues even more.

What to do

Those with this stress level ironically need to learn to relax a little bit.

One way to help in that is to set really clear goals.  That way they can work all-out on the things that really matter, and coast a bit more on the everyday tasks that aren’t as important.

This will let them conserve energy when they don’t need to be so intense, and still be able to ramp up to full speed when the extra effort is needed.

Type 2 – The Worry Wart

Worry Warts are those people who, despite their best efforts, just can’t seem to stop thinking, but also don’t seem to be able to put any of their thoughts into action.

What it looks like

They just keep analyzing things without doing anything with that information, to the point that they can’t even move or make a decision.

Analysis Paralysis

Worry Warts end up spinning their wheels but not getting any traction and ultimately get nowhere and do nothing.

As the name implies, they spend a lot of their time worrying about what bad things might or might not happen, which only leaves them even more incapable of action.  It’s a vicious circle.

What to do

People with this stress level need to learn to address the problems they think they are facing very clearly.  Some things that can help are to:

  1. Put down on paper every possible thing that can go wrong.
  2. Think about the likelihood of each of these happening.

Once they put a name to the fear, it isn’t as powerful.  And once they can see it they can take a step back, deal with it more rationally and move on to the next goal.

Type 3 – The Drifter

No, not the people who wander from town to town in TV shows.

Well not entirely, anyway.

Drifters like to keep their options open. In fact, they keep their options so wide open that they are not actually able to develop any in-depth skills.

What it looks like

People with Drifter stress levels don’t really focus on doing any one thing or going down any specific path.  They put their efforts into a variety of different tasks and tend to drift (that’s where the name comes from) from one thing to another.  Their time might be spent productively doing things, but rarely does all that activity lead to a finished product.  They just can’t seem to get anything done.

They create a catch-22 for themselves wherein they have complete freedom to do whatever they want, but have no idea how to use that freedom!

What to do

Drifters should get clear on their life goals. Define what they really want out of life.

They can then use those goals to develop a clear roadmap of how to achieve them and focus only on those particular items that will get them to their goal.

Once they have found a direction to focus their efforts, they can stop hopping from task to task and focus on what matters most to them.

Don't let stress shut you down! Learn how to effectively deal with stress in any situation.Type 4 – The Loner

Loners, just as the name implies, have a really difficult time building meaningful relationships.

What it looks like

Generally working alone, loners don’t receive much feedback from others. Rather than building support systems to help them achieve their goals, they put up walls so that others can’t get in.

WIth all of their time spent inside their own little worlds and on singular, personal efforts they seldom get to share experiences with those around them.

This makes it difficult for them to find out what they enjoy and what type of people they might enjoy doing things with.

What to do

Loners should work on clarifying their values, then work to build relationships with people who share those same values.  This shared sense of values can help them move toward their goals.

Sharing their experiences and values give them a support structure to help them achieve goals consistent with their values, as well as a sense of purpose.

Type 5 – Basket Cases

Basket Cases are like the perpetual motion machines of the stress world.

  • they never stop
  • they create their own stress
What it looks like

Basket Cases just don’t take care of themselves.  They get tired, achy, depressed and just shut down, feeling that any activity is too much effort.

You’ll find that they are frequently in poor health and too worn out and depressed to do anything about it.

What to do

Step one is to start eating right.  Even Basket Cases gotta eat, so they might as well start putting stuff in their body that will make them feel better.

Step two is to start exercising.  Basket Cases will overdo it the second they start feeling a little better, dropping them right back in the doldrums.  Therefore they should take it easy and conserve energy.  Save some for the next walk.

Type 6 – Cliff Walkers

People with this type of stress level are actually very much at risk for destroying their health.

What it looks like

Cliff Walkers tend to just look worn out. They probably smoke, eat very badly, drink too much and never exercise.

Even worse, they bet that nothing bad will really ever come from those habits, so they just indulge more and more.  And then they wonder why they don’t have the energy to do anything.

What to do

Much like people with Basket Case stress levels, Cliff Walkers should eat right, then after a while start working in a little exercise.  A smoking cessation class wouldn’t hurt.

Manage Your Stress Levels

If we can learn to understand the different stress levels and our reaction we will be much better equipped to deal with life when stressful situations occur.

Once we can put a name on the stress, and on how we react to it, we can turn that problem into a possibility to grow.  And that’s what life is all about!

What do you do to manage your stress levels?

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Often referred to as “that long-haired computer guy”, Dee Hathaway is a government technology leader with a passion for helping people do things better and a goal of always having the newest cell phone available. His first book Here's What Let's Do: Stop Being Average and Start Being Awesome was an Amazon #1 bestseller.
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