I saw this video and realised that I have been using my own method for handling stress a while now. I have also been using this method with my coaching clients, and they have all had great benefit accruing to them using this method. So, I am putting down my thoughts on this matter, hoping that it might help a few of you who read this.
Stress is something that all people, actually all living beings, go through periodically in their respective lives. Stress has been around for a long time, ever since living beings appeared. So, stress is NOT new! It would be pertinent to keep in mind that stress is almost always the cause of all physical ailments and conditions, and even the “Lifestyle” illnesses that are prevalent today. And hence, this article is about how it IS possible to handle stress using a simple method. Before going there, let’s take a look at “stress!”
Stress is caused by anything that threatens the health, survival and longevity of the being. Over time, the kinds of things that lead to stress might have changed. Millions of years ago, it was just physical danger to the being (all living beings) that prompted stress, and a resultant response that also caused great strides in evolution of all species. To survive, every species adapted to dangers and some thrived. These are the beings that used the stress to become better.
Today, and in the context of human beings, it is not just a physical threat that creates a stress response! When someone attacks a “point of view” held by me, it triggers a stress response within me! And my brain cannot and does not differentiate between a physical and another kind of threat. This could be a mundane aspect about how good the food I have prepared is, or as big as a performance appraisal. At the level of daily life, it could be a simple thing of someone wondering if the person whom they have prepared a meal for, will like the meal or not! Research has shown that a real and an imagined threat trigger exactly the same response within the body – the same chemicals are released when a wild animal attacks me, as my imagining the wild animal attacking me! So, for many, a perceived loss of face or reputation is as worrisome as a physical injury!
The response to stress always takes the form of a physical “reaction” within the body – the release of chemicals that made an appropriate response possible, to enable the being to protect itself. All life is meant to preserve itself. Self preservation is the most primal of all instincts in all living things. So, let’s understand that stress IS USEFUL. The key is to ensure that the appropriate levels of stress are maintained within the body. Like with everything else, too much of anything is not useful. The same with stress and the chemicals that are released as a response.
Given that this blog is going to be read by humans only, I will restrict the process to how it might be useful for humans to handle stress appropriately.
When stress is researched, it almost always related to FEAR. It is useful to note that FEAR is always about the future – never about the past. Fear is and can be ONLY about two kinds of events:
Not getting what I want
Losing what I have
These two can take on multiple forms. It could be about material, tangible things like money, possessions, health, etc. And it could also be about intangible things such as respect, recognition, perceptions, and the like. It could also be my health or the health of someone who matters. The health of someone I love matters to me, because I like having them and their presence in my life. So, when a loved one loses their health, my stress is first and foremost, losing them. And, also about their suffering. When someone close to me suffers, I also suffer because their health and happiness matter to me.
The question that arises from all of this is, how do I understand what I am afraid of? Either losing what I have or not getting what I have? And more importantly, how do I handle the fear and be in a reasonably relaxed state? This is important since being in a stressed state really harms the body.
How therefore does a person handle stress and stay relaxed, as much as possible? The potential answer might be in using a simple method called the “P2S2!” It is also clear that each and every person already knows and uses this method, and as with everything else, some are able to do it better than others. And it might be because some do not use a systematic process and a method to handle stress.
P2S2 is an acronym that stands for “Problem, Prevention, Solution Support.” This is something that I created borrowing from the work of a few illustrious people, and adding my own ingredients to it.
How does one use the P2S2 to handle Fear and Stress, might be the question? It is rather simple, however not easy. Like has been said before, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Similarly, most “complex” problems mostly have very “simple” solutions.
Firstly, it is useful to identify what I really want. This directly relates to the “cause” of the fear, and the resultant stress. That’s because fear is only about “Not getting what I want” or “Losing what I have!”
First, I obtain clarity about what it is that I truly want. I write it down as clearly as possible. Writing things down also has a magical effect of making the “unknown” known and helps greatly.
Below this statement of the objective, I create 4 columns. The title for each of the columns is the expansion of the P2S2 acronym – Problem, Prevention, Solution, Support. The sheet is filled up column by column and not row by row. This means I take each area and list down all that I can think of in that area, and then move on. First, list all potential and real problems down. Then look at each problem and work out how that could be prevented. Then even though all the prevention has been thought of, and implemented, if the problem happens, how will I handle the situation? And finally, whose support do I need? What is the support I need? When will I need it?
The first P stands for Potential Problems that could crop up and make what I want not happen. I focus my attention on ALL of the potential problems that could come up and spoil my getting what I want, or losing what I have. I list down each and every one of the problems that I can think of, or predict. Some of the problems might be known, and some others not. Focusing attention on a single aspect and getting all the problems listed down is useful.
Then, I move on to the next column – Prevention. I look at each and every potential problem I have listed down, and work out how I could prevent the problem from occurring. As the old proverb goes, prevention is always better than cure! It sometimes becomes very evident that the same prevention could help safeguard against multiple problems.
Once this is done, I move on to the next column – Solution. Whilst I might have provided for as many of the potential problems I could think of, and implemented the preventions, it still does not mean that the problem will not occur. I therefore plan ahead and list down what I will do in case the problem does occur. Whilst all of us take all precautions for our health, when we do fall sick, the one thing we are advised to do is to visit the doctor and take treatment. The solution approach is similar.
Then, I also fill up what and whose support is needed at any of the stages. I might need someone’s help and support for the prevention, and someone else’s for implementing the solution.
This method is by no means a foolproof solution. This is an exercise that can be re-done many times and the document refined. The main thing that on gets from going through with this exercise, is that the “unknown” becomes “slightly known” and my readiness and preparations for handling the obstacles and problems is that much better. This has a huge effect in helping me have less fear, and therefore less stress to handle. And it begins and upwards cycle, of having better control on the important aspects of life, leading to my living a more peaceful, healthier life!
Happiness and health is everyone’s birthright! Suffering is optional, says Kichu Krishnan, my dear friend. My best wishes to you for a life of happiness and health! May the P2S2 be with you!