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Learn to Expect the Unexpected

Stuff happens - Stress happens

We all have plans, wishes and expectations of how people will act or how an event, our day and our lives will turn out. Unfortunately, things don't always work out as we hope. Too often, things seem to twist and turn in ways we did not expect or foresee.

For instance, you may find yourself caught up in a situation and find that your thoughts are racing. You're carried away and engaged in what's happening. All of a sudden, you're caught off guard, unprepared and surprised when something happens or when someone does or says something to offend or hurt you. Being unprepared for the event has caused you negative stress and even anxiety. It's important to clear you mind and think of what's happening in the moment. Take a couple of deep breathes and shake it off by moving your body. Then react by making the necessary adjustment to deal with the situation. Being prepared would have helped you minimize the impact and change the outcome of the situation.

Each person experiences an event differently, regardless whether it's insignificant or significant, it's how we interpret, internalize, and how well we cope that matters. If we believe an event is stressful, it is and if we believe it isn't, it isn't. Regardless of the event, it's all how we think and react to it.

Stress can be defined as anything that stimulates/changes us, positively or negatively, from our calm, serene state. Stress can range from a physical reaction to something dangerous, overworked and exhausted to your surroundings or emotional reactions concerning relationships, health or financial matters.

Any event that provoke stress is called a stressor. A stressor can be something external from the outside world or internal, self generated in the mind. An stressful event can range from surviving physical danger, making a presentation, dealing with unpleasant people to a pleasant experience or situation. It's all in the mind.

Unexpected events and surprises often cause stress because they tend to throw the body's stability homeostatic/equilibrium balance out of whack. The body has a network of glands and organs that need to be in a state of harmony to function well and chaos of any kind is very harmful. Confronting an unexpected situation will usually trigger our bodies into the fight-or-flight stress response. This stressful response is true for zebras, lions and humans. Unlike animals, however, we tend to worry ourselves sick with anticipation of bad things happening. We often react quickly without thinking when we see things coming. Looking ahead also can trigger stress. For instance, thinking if you'll get the raise at work or the grade at school can cause anxiety and stress.

Some people seem to become easily stress out about any small event or manifest stress when none exist. They seem nervous, out of control and can make everyone around them feel the same way. We all admire people who appear to be cool, calm and collected while everyone around him/her seems to be out of control. So what is the difference? Well, some of those people were born that way and others learn to be that way.

Learning to effectively manage and cope with life's stressful events can mean the differences between being healthy and unhealthy, happy and depressed.

One way to reduce stress is to learn to expect the unexpected. Be prepared for events you planed for and those that appear without notice. Always have a plan and a backup contingency plans. Having an alternative backup solution is always good idea. Most people spend so much time stressing about things that may go wrong, things that we had not expected. We would spend that time more wisely coming up with a detailed contingency plan. Take the time to make a plan B and maybe C.

Be prepared by paying attention to your surroundings, your action and reaction. Relax and enjoy the comfort when you're alone in your own environment. When you're not alone or when you're out of your environment, become more aware, more focused and activate your plan and backup contingency plans. If something seems unusual or out of the ordinary, you should wake up, come up a notch with all your senses. When you recognize something as a potential threat, it's not as big a threat because it can't take you by surprise. The same holds true in life. Practice such preventive behavior and you minimize surprises.

Being poised and guarded usually requires all senses to be alert, thinking several steps ahead and ready for action. This heighten state can be emotionally and physically draining which will take a toll on your body and the mind. Most situations, however, do not require that level of fight-or-flight response mode. It's usually enough to become aware, activate your plans, remain relax and enjoy the situation.

Become comfortable in visualizing what's going to happen and how you'll react. If you can envision what's going to happen, you can react to it quickly without thinking, because you've seen it in your mind. If you think of enough variables, you've covered every possibility so that nothing will be unexpected. It's similar to play a game of chess. Play and enjoy the game but you should never become nervous and stressed out anticipating what going to happen. That's exactly what you want to avoid.

Have a plan, contingency plan and being aware are important steps in effectively managing and coping any situation. Planning ahead, without over thinking, is always a good idea. The process of being prepared, becoming aware and having plans should always be done in a calm, relaxed and natural manner.

Achieving and sustaining a calm, well balanced state of mind may not be possible in situations where crisis needs your immediate and undivided attention. Resolving those situations may require all your time and resources. When that happens, do whatever it takes to put things go back to normal. Afterwards, take time to refresh, rebalance and rejuvenate yourself. Stressful situations that last for a long time can cause harmful chronic stress syndrome. Your health depends on whether you're able to reduce, eliminate or effectively cope with the source of the stressor.

Identifying the stressors is key to managing stress. It's easy to identify some stressors and difficult to identify stressors that are invisible and cloaked into our daily lifestyle. We may even believe it's normal to always be under a large amount of harmful stress and that distress is just a normal side effect.

It's important to take the time to look at your life and current situations. How much of your situation is the result of consciously making choices or taking positive action and how much is the result of things that happened to you that were beyond your control? Are you the victim or the cause of the problem? It's most probably a combination of both scenarios.

Having a clear understanding of your role, responsibilities and expectations will help you cope in any situation. It is sometimes difficult to see and accept that you're the cause or that your expectations, action and reactions can make a difference in how an event plays out.

If you're the type of person who blows up or lose your patience easily, then you need to lower your expectations and accept that you're, at least, partly responsible for causing the problem. Even if you're not the cause, you probably can handle the situation better, minimize the problem and avoid negative stress. When a situation arises, think about if you are ready? Do have an action plan and a backup plan in place? Did you react correctly? If you reacted differently, could you change the outcome situation? How's your self-control? It's your responsibility to be aware of your role, action and reactions in any situation. How you doing?

Consider sitting down and making a list of events, people, phrases or circumstances that cause you to lose your patience, you cool. Things that make you feel anxious, worried, or unhappy and those that cause you anxiety, tension, or frustration. Look for and pinpoint what triggers and patterns sets you off in each item on the list. Being aware and being prepared can help reduce the frequency and the impact it has on you.

The thought or feeling of change or losing control can be a significant stressor for a lot of people. There is often a choice to let go of trying to control everything, or do all that we can to prepare. You might be surprised to find that accepting things, being flexible and letting go can change your perspective on your reality. Accept the twist and turns in life gracefully. This applies not only to circumstances, but also the behavior of those around you. Instead of getting stressed and upset, allow yourself to roll with the punches when something you have no control over happens. Stuff will happen. The question is how will you internalize, interpret and react to it. We've all experienced the unexpected. Give yourself a break. If you accept that anything can happen at any time, it's less likely it throw you off your stride when it does. Just be able to adjust your game plan accordingly.

Believing that people, situations and things are perfect is a recipe for failure. Expecting the world to run smoothly is like beating your head against the wall. You can't really control people or situations but you can use self-control. Remember that people, including you, are not perfect and that stuff will happen. Stop holding yourself and the world around you to unreachable standards. Without realizing it, we set ourselves up for problems and disappointment by expecting too much. Do we expect our family and friends to love us unconditionally, to know and do exactly what we want, when we want it? Maybe we believe that life will always treat us fairly. Do we feel cheated, slighted, unlucky, disappointed or depressed when things don't turn out as we expected? Does the disappointment cause us stress, tension or anxiety?

The objective is to do these things while remaining calm, relaxed, content, joyful, and take full advantage of what matters most in life. Be prepared but also go with the flow. keep learning and making adjustment toward reaching and sustaining a well-balanced, enriched and fulfilled lifestyle.


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