Posted by: Cathi Brese Doebler | June 18, 2009

Managing Stress: Influence and Control

Building on the information from my last two posts, I want to continue with some tips for parents on managing stress. I left off with my last post which was about Tip #1: Find out what your stressors are.

Now on to Tip #2: Be realistic about what you can change.

There may be some stressors in your life that you do have control over. You can find out which of these you have some degree of control over by asking yourself these questions:

  • Can I avoid or remove the stressor from my life?
  • Can I minimize the strength of the stressor in my life, maybe by reducing the number of times I encounter it each day/week/month/year?
  • Can I minimize the amount of time I’m around the stressor by leaving the situation I’m in?
  • Am I able and willing to dedicate my time to any needed changes that I need to make?

When you do have control over the questions above, you can take positive steps to address the stressors in your life.  You can spend time considering your answers, and brainstorming ways to address each stressor.

However, there may also be some stressors in your life over which you have no control. It is easy for people to spend time agonizing over stressors over which they have no control or influence. This is harmful to mental and physical health, and it won’t help address the problem.

In my class I often have people spend time thinking about the stressors in their lives. I ask them to consider where their stressors fall.  For example, do your stressors fall:

  1. under your control,
  2. under your influence, or
  3. where you have no control or influence?

Take some time to figure out where your stressors fall and then spend time brainstorming:

  • ways to overcome the stressors that are under your control,
  • ways to address the stressors that are within your influence, and
  • ways to be realistic about the stressors with which you have no control or influence.

As a parent, we will face each of these types of stressors. Many times it will help to simply step back for a moment, determine where the stressor is falling into, and then consider how to address it.

The most difficult one, of course, is the type of stressor over which we have no control or influence. It can leave you feeling rather helpless if you let it. But when you put your trust in God, and ask for His guidance and strength, you may be able to find peace with His answer. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


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