4 Ways You're Unintentionally Making Your Stress Wayyyy Worse

Photo:  Jacob Lund | Canva 
Stressed woman

The list of easy ways to run from stress is long and familiar. Yet, no matter how much you medicate, party, shop, sleep, exercise, or whatever your run-away favorite is, at some point, it's time to look at what's going on and come to grips with reality.

How do you prepare for change and coping with stress?

Yes, prepare. Think of it this way: the quality of your preparation will influence the quality of your responses. When you are fully prepared, you have options and possibilities that will keep you in the driver's seat for what's next.

When stress hits the hot button, the tendency is to react in automatic, familiar ways. Not good. Old reaction patterns bring nothing but problems.

When things don't go as you planned, what is the initial way you look at the annoying or uncomfortable situation?

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Our bodies instinctive choices are fight, flight, or freeze.

Take a minute and track your personal reactions. Many blame and want to punch someone out. Others gotta get the heck out as fast as possible and find a place of safety. And still others do the deer in the headlights and simply can't move.

These instinctive choices don't offer much choice for a lasting solution and lead to the worst mistakes that keep us stuck.

Here are 4 ways you're unintentionally making your stress worse:

1. Not taking responsibility.

"It's his fault. It's her fault. It's their fault. They should have known better. They should have warned me. They should have fixed it."

Stop it. Stop it right now.

Don't count on anyone else to relieve your stress. It's your stress, no one else's. Learn to take responsibility for how you feel.

2. Deciding to not decide.

Time to pivot, yet not sure which way to turn. Deciding not to decide is a stress inducer. You are still waiting for someone else to tell you what to do. The longer you wait, the deeper the stress.

This is how you waste a ton of emotional energy hanging onto the past and hoping for a hero to take you into the future on their red cape.

RELATED: Why Good Things Are Sometimes As Stressful As Bad Ones

3. Ignoring what you know.

It often feels better not to know. Ignorance is bliss, that is until it becomes stressful.

When we know it, recognize it and yet, ignore it there are often huge consequences. What we choose to not see can backfire and create ten times the stress when it can no longer be pushed under the rug.

4. Rushing your decisions. 

Hurrying to get the situation over with by being impetuous without considering consequences down the line often makes you feel good for a moment. This leads to the "if-only syndrome" and a lot of regrets that makes stress a constant companion.

Making a wise choice means preparing and planning the best move possible. It's all about the timing of when to move and when to stand steady.

The secret of "practicing safe stress" is to look at the extremes and then wait. Not long, just take a few deep breaths.

Wait until you understand the consequences that lie at the extremes and make a choice. Stress is an ally and can help you get going in a positive way without making deadly mistakes.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Let Go Of Stress (That Actually Work Fast)

Sylvia Lafair is a noted authority on leadership and a consultant to family firms, Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs, her message is unique and timely; her insights universal and relevant.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.