15 Best Tips To Improve Stress Tolerance
July 8, 2021
 Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
 Your phone dings with another reminder of an event you forgot about. With all the things you have “to do” this one fell through the cracks. Now you’re distracted from what you had intended to do with the morning. Scrambling to put out this fire, you feel like you have no stress tolerance at all.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association over 75% of adults report symptoms of stress. In fact they refer to it as a mental health crisis.

People stress about all sorts of things such as:

     -The economy
     -Personal responsibilities

However, some people have a low stress tolerance problem that causes them to over stress. In fact, it is estimated that 10% of the population have a low stress tolerance. The effects can be devastating to your health, but what is a low stress tolerance exactly?

What is Stress Tolerance?

 Stress tolerance: the ability to stay relaxed and composed while enduring pressure when faced with uncertain and difficult situations. 
Stress results when you face a situation and react to it with a negative attitude about it. Your stress tolerance is low when you have negative emotions such as bitterness, hopelessness, hostility or anxiety.

Once you reach the level where you get overwhelmed your stress tolerance level has been reached. Negative attitudes and reactions will start to set in.

Why do we stress?

Some stress is actually good for you. It can be exciting or even thrilling for certain people. Consequently, people with a high stress tolerance can stay calm where others would start with negative thoughts and emotions under the same stress.

Finding your sweet spot for how much stress you can endure without reacting negatively is key for optimal health.

What Are Three Stages of Stress?

It is important to understand how stress works in order to better deal with it. There are three important stages to stress: alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

The first perception of something as stressful. Your body starts a fight or flight response before you’re even consciously aware of it.

When the stress continues, the body stays in the fight or flight mode for a prolonged period. This results in an increased metabolic rate.
After a prolonged fight or flight response nutrients needed to maintain health have been used up. The body needs calm to get back to rest and repair mode.

Most people cycle through the three stages of stress without realizing it. Even though there is no real physical danger of being harmed. However, emotional triggers are causing us to react like your being chased by a sabor tooth tiger.

Over time, going past our stress tolerance level wears on the body and leads to numerous health problems.

How is Stress Tolerance Measured?

Stress is subjective meaning we can’t measure it with a lab or reading like is done with your blood pressure. That is where the PSS comes in to measure perceived stress. The questions below make up the test and you simply add up your scores using this scale.

You probably can tell you are under stress, but how do you determine how much you’re feeling? How do you know if that is more or less than “normal”? Stress tolerance is best measured using a tool called the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).

This scale measures the psychological component of stress. Meaning the part related to your mind, not the body. It is important to measure this because your subconscious mind is usually the culprit in stress and low stress tolerance. PSS is the most widely used tool for measuring stress.

Research has shown there is strong evidence linking stress to many diseases. Therefore, doctors will often not measure stress and instead hand out prescriptions for medications to help reduce anxiety. The problem with this is it misses the chance to identify ways to you can manage stressful situations.

Using the PSS allows you to identify key aspects of their daily lives that can be modified such as:

     -Uncontrollable stressors
     -Stress from overloaded schedules
     -Dealing with life’s unpredictables

Determine Your Stress Tolerance

For each question use these answer choices:

0 – Never 1 – Almost never 2 – Sometimes 3 – Fairly often 4 – Very often

1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened      unexpectedly?
2. During the last month, how often have you felt that your were unable to control the important things in your life?
3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and stressed?
4. During the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?
5. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?
6. During the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?
7. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?
8. During the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?
9. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that happened that were outside of your control?
10. During the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

Add up your score

To determine your score simply add up the number you assigned to each question. However, for questions 4, 5, 7, and 8 change the score as follows:

      0 change to 4
      1 change to 3
      2 stays 2
      3 change to 1
      4 change to 0

The table below shows what your perceived stress is based on your score. Understanding how you perceive your life is the first step in managing your stress tolerance.

Score Meaning
     0-13 Low stress
     14-26 Moderate stress
     27-40 High stress

How Can I Increase My Stress Tolerance?

Now that you know your perceived stress score, you might be wanting to improve your stress tolerance. The good news is you CAN do it. Below are some ways to shift your mindset and better manage stress so you perceive everything as less stressful.

1. Become aware of your emotions

Physical symptoms often show with your emotions such as: clenched jaw, twitch, sweating, stomach in knots. Identify these signs and realize you need to take 3 deep breaths. Afterwards, jot down what it was that made you so emotional.

These emotions are your signs of stress. The thing that made you so emotional is your agents of stress.

2. Self reflect and ask questions

Take time to think through and thoroughly answer the following questions.

     1. What part of the situation was causing stress?
     2. Is my self talk really true?
     3. Ask others who were involved to get their perception of the event and compare that to your               self talk answer.
     4. What could I do differently in the future to not react so emotionally?

3. Recognize the inner critic

We all have self talk that tells us we are not good enough, don’t belong or are an imposter. That coupled with the fact that we all inflate how much attention others actually pay to us. When you think your and imposter and everyone is watching you stress mounts.

The truth!

Realize that other people are more concerned about themselves than you. Also, everyone feels imposter syndrome, just like you.

Flip the script on your inner critic and think about:

What you did that was good enough
Other people are tuned into the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) radio station and are not worried about you

4. Constant learning builds self confidence

As you do this exercise to reflect and grow your going to get better at stress management. That will no doubt improve your stress tolerance.

The other affect most don’t realize will happen at the same time is you will grow your self confidence. The more you learn about yourself the more you put your conscious mind in control. The decreases in stress and growth in confidence will grow and start to snowball over time.

A great way to track this is to take the PSS score again each month. Keep a log of your scores over several months and see how they improve. Before you know it you will have increased your stress tolerance!
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