How To Overcome A Stressful Situation

even though playing the drums is his passion...

Image by romana klee via Flickr

Okay, I think we can admit it. We are among friends here. We can be open.

The honest truth is:

Being in a position of leadership can be stressful.

Leadership is not easy. There is much that is expected of you.

You wear various hats:

  • Mentor
  • Father/Mother Figure
  • Activity Planner
  • Supervisor
  • Referee

You have to deal with difficult situations:

  • Tension between the members of your team
  • Bad home situations of your students
  • Disagreements
  • Having to correct a team member
  • Interruptions of your schedule

Stress is the trash of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life
— Danzae Pace

The various hats you wear and the difficult situations can be stressful. You may feel like sleeping away the trouble, pulling your hair out, or throwing in the towel. These are not the solutions you are looking for. You need to put the stressful situation into perspective. Let us look at how we can do this.

  • Zoom Out
    When a problem arises we normally zoom in on the problem. We want to see the problem up close. By zooming in, you lose sight of the big picture. Many times you make the problem bigger by zooming in. Instead, step back from the situation and zoom out.
    Look at the situation from afar. You may see the problem is not as big as you thought it was. A solution may also present itself. Taking a step back and zooming out allows you to see the big picture and how everything connects. See if zooming out allows the solution to come into focus.
  • Control Your Emotions
    As stressful situations present themselves, it is easy to let your emotions run wild. You may feel anger, pain, grief, or betrayal. Having these feelings is okay. Letting these feelings dictate what you do next is not.
    Bad decisions usually happen when you react because of your emotions.  If you feel your emotions are starting to affect your judgement, take a break. Excuse yourself from the room. Take deep breaths. Do a couple of quick and easy exercises. Once you have cleared your mind, reevaluate the stressful situation. You will see it in a different light.
  • Cultivate A Great Team
    Leaders need to surround themselves with a great team. Your team can be your lifeline. Consult with your team members when you have a difficult and stressful situation arise. Get the opinions of the members that you trust.
    Cultivating a great team means you have others who are willing to help you through. Allow them to help when you need it. There is nothing better than having a great team when facing a stressful situation.
  • Decide If You Need To Deal With The Stressful Situation
    People will bring their stressful situations to you. Sometimes you need to help them. Other times it is not a situation you need to deal with. Determine what type of situation it is. If it is a situation that requires your help, then help. If it is not a situation that you deal with, excuse yourself from it and recommend someone that can help them with a solution. Staying in a stressful situation that you do not belong in only brings more stress.
  • Speak Positively
    Instead of using critical language in regards to the situation, use positive language. “This looks hopeless” can become “This will take work but we can get through it”. “Ugh.. This situation again?” becomes “We have worked through this before. Lets get you out of this quickly again”. Just re-framing how you speak and think about the situation can change your stress level. Do not let the stress get you down!

Give your stress wings and let it fly away
— Carin Hartness

Remember, you will come upon stressful situations. However, you do not have to let the stressful situation dictate your reaction. When you find yourself facing stress, there are actions you can take to minimize it. Implement these strategies and I think you will find the stress be easier to handle.

Keep your chin up and keep moving forward.

Question: How can you better deal with the stressful situations you encounter? Share your ideas in the comment section. You may help someone overcome a stressful situation!


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great advice!
    I’ll say that for many years I tried the Scarlett O’Hara approach of not thinking about it today and putting it off for tomorrow. While that can work for a time, tomorrow eventually comes and we must face our problems. Over the years I have learned a balanced approach to being like Ms. O’Hara-Somethings can be put on the backburner, not everything is vitally important.
    Learning to triage my stress has helped greatly.

    • Thanks for sharing TC.

      What you said is true. Even if we put off dealing with an issue, it will rear it’s head again at some point. I think this is a reason we have seen many failing marriages. Pushing issues away until they snowball and everything breaks.

  • For me, dealing with stress starts with me. I need to make sure I’m getting the sleep, the food, and the exercise that I need to stay energized and focused. When I’m missing any one of these three ingredients, my ability to handle stressful situations goes out the window.

    • Those are excellent items to keep in mind. If we’re not taking care of ourselves physically, our emotional state deteriorates also.

  • I know for me the key to dealing with stress is multi-faceted. It begins with the way I wake up in the morning – in prayer – just simply giving God my day and turning over the reigns to Him before anything happens. In those moments where stress hits me, I find someone to talk about it with, to share what’s going on inside of me. Finally, I make time to do certain activities that alleviate stress throughout the day – listening to music, reading, going to the gym, etc.

    • Louis, I appreciate your input! Those are excellent habits to keep stress at bay.

  • Yes! I relate so much with this post. With there seeming to always be some item of stress to deal with, it’s hard sometimes to be able to pull back and not get derailed. I’ve had times where I let emotions get the better of me, and can definitely attest that you’re right about taking a deep breath or excusing yourself from the situation.
    Thanks for the good advice, Joe!

    • You’re welcome Stephen. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • Anonymous

    I have learned that I need to know and understand the emotions I’m feeling. Then be able to mange those emotions for a positive outcome. This requires being aware of myself. I’m leaning emotions are normal and we should not hid our feelings. Great post.

    • I like how you approach stress and the need to know and understand what you’re feeling. Getting to that level makes it much easier to handle stress.

  • I think your point about contolling emotions is key. That’s one of the main drawbacks of stress – it gets everyone on edge and leads us to attack each other sometimes. When a leader sets a calm tone, it really changes things from the top down.

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