Too stressed to communicate well? |5 coping strategies

by Betty Lochner on May 2, 2011

I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately, and, quite frankly, this whole positive communication thing gets really challenging when you are feeling overwhelmed and cranky.

My life is pretty full right now.  Like most of us, I have a lot going on.  Work is crazy, my community activities are crazy, my consulting business is crazy, my family is crazy, even the weather is crazy.

Like Penny here, all I really want is a good nap.

At work  I know I should display some energy and enthusiasm for the hard work going on around me during a really busy time. But, I really don’t want to.

Instead, what I really want to do is just go all negative. Maybe complain or gossip a little. Just to feel better about me.  Yeah, let’s make it about me.

Ever feel that way? As you may guess, that’s not a very productive way to handle stress.

“Too stressed to communicate well” – my top 5 coping strategies

1) Look on on the bright side.

There’s always a silver lining. Take a minute to pause, and think of what is going right in the situation, or in your life. Do you have a house to live in? Running water? A job? Be thankful for that. Sometimes we get bogged down and forget to put things in perspective.

2) Find humor in the situation.

When you think about it, most situations we find ourselves overwhelmed about are pretty funny.  When I’m late for work, I always tell my story:  I spilled coffee on my blouse, I couldn’t find a shoe, the dog barfed on the rug, and on and on. It is really pretty silly to be so stressed out about normal human things that happen regularly (well, to me anyway).

3) Prioritize.

When you are juggling multiple things that are stressful, think seriously about what your priorities are. Are you spending the most time on the things most important to you?  Think about that. Give the appropriate amount of time to the situation and focus on the really important stuff.

4) What can you let go of?

Sometimes one of the biggest stress reducers is the power of saying no.  I was recently being considered to sit on a community board that I was very interested in being a part of.  After thinking about how I would manage that, I said “no”.  We both respected my decision, and I am thankful now that I thought it through before I got in over my head.

5) And, yes – do get some sleep.

Being rested can make a huge difference in helping you stay positive and focused.

Once you deal with your stress, you’ll find it’s much easier to relax, pause, and communicate positively.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betty Lochner May 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

Thanks for your comments Jackie! I love that you add that not dealing with stress well can not only be harmful to us, but to others in our life as well.

2 Betty Lochner May 6, 2011 at 9:08 am

Thanks, Brietta!

3 Betty Lochner May 6, 2011 at 9:07 am

Thanks for your comments, Tammy. I love your strategies (music and your dog!). Choosing words carefully – yes, and a great idea for a blog post….!

4 Tammy Redmon May 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm

We have all been exactly where you are for sure Betty. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness and lose site of self in the process.

One strategy that I employ for getting over the Whine-1-1 of a situation – Music. I play music to life my spirits and it works every time. Also, I love on my dog. She has a way of pulling me out of my muddle too.

And of course, I am careful at the words I choose…very careful. Even when the pressure hits and the grey skies are just a bit too much, I pick my words carefully. They have the power to life up or push me down. I pick UP!

Thanks for the good read!

5 Brietta May 3, 2011 at 9:36 am

Good tips Betty!

6 Jackie Ferrado May 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

That was an excellent article. Just what I needed for myself and someone I care about who is going through some turmoil and feeling overwhelmed. I loved the honesty in it too. It a gentle reminder that some of the things we choose to do instead of dealing with stress or craziness is not only harmful to us, but can be to others. Thanks for sharing. I “plan” to use at least one of those strategies this week.

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