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Developing Assertiveness for Stress Management

Updated on March 18, 2013

Assertiveness and Self Confidence Go Hand in Hand

Assertiveness and self confidence work together as effective stress management techniques.
Assertiveness and self confidence work together as effective stress management techniques. | Source

Being Assertive Puts You in the Driver's Seat for Managing Your Stress

You're sick and tired of feeling sick and tired or you'd simply enjoy less anxiety in your life. Whatever the reason is that you want to learn to successfully deal with the stress in your life, you've made the most important decision of all by recognizing the problem and taking the first steps toward resolution.

Many times people become overwhelmed with the demands on their time from family, work, friends, school and extracurricular activities. We want to be an active participant, we want to meet goals, we want to be a "good" parent or partner or friend. What we tend to forget about is ourselves. Assertiveness techniques help to put you in the driver's seat and back in charge of yourself, your time and your energy.

4 Phrases that Empower You and Help in Dealing with Stress

Learn How to Stand Up for Yourself

Effective Communication Skills: Assertive Communication

Assertiveness skills and techniques are a type of verbal communication and the use of body language that is based on mutual respect -- respect for yourself and respect for the person or persons with whom you are communicating.

Being assertive isn't difficult, but it does require you to be mindful of how you are communicating with others until you've established the habit of being neither a bully or a doormat.

  • Use "I" statements. Using "I" in your communication makes it clear you are taking ownership of what you are saying. Example: I feel frustrated when I'm asked to do too many things at once. Instead of: You ask me to do so many things at the same time.
  • Try to let the other person know you understand his/her side of the issue too. Example: I realize you have deadlines to meet. Instead of: Your deadlines are your problem.
  • State the problem -- this is the reason why you are asking that something change. Example: While I understand your need to meet the deadlines, I feel that an unfair share of the burden is placed on me. Instead of: It's just not fair that I have to do most of the work.
  • Explanation of what you want or the change you are seeking. Example: When you have deadlines looming, it might be more effective and less stressful to me for us to brainstorm how best to get the projects completed on time. Instead of: I just don't want to feel under the gun all the time.
  • Learn to use your body language to emphasize your message: Make eye contact with the other person; speak in a firm, kind tone of normal volume; avoid crossing your arms; sit or stand straight.
  • Don't qualify your statements with an apology or undue explanations. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings. Neither do you have to offer excuses.
  • Avoid thinking you ought to, or should have or would have anything. Learn to think and say, "I choose..."
  • Learn to say "no"

A caveat here: When you are first beginning to practice assertive communication, you are likely to feel anxious and stressed. That's only natural initially. As assertive language and mannerisms become more natural to you, the anxiety of newness will diminish as will the other stresses in your life that you are now dealing with openly and honestly.

Build Your Self-Esteem; Believe You Have the Right to Be Assertive

Symptoms of Stress

Perhaps you're unsure if what you're experiencing is actually a reaction to stressful events and conditions. Each individual will have his/her own signs and symptoms of stress, but there are also a number of general symptoms that suggest daily life is impacting you in negative ways:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Tight muscles
  • Poor attention to detail
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Moodiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hair loss
  • Anxiousness
  • Loss of self esteem
  • Anger

The Varied Signs and Symptoms of Stress

Difficulty concentrating
Increased caffeine use
Increased alcohol use
Changes in menstrual cycle
Odd or recurring dreams
Cigarette smoking
Chest tightness
Loss of motivation
Thoughts of death
Poor self esteem
Drug use
Stomach cramps
Poor attention to detail
Overeating or undereating
Difficulty breathing
Perfectionist tendencies
Weight gain or loss
Hair loss
Feeling helpless
Reduced activity
Relationship conflict
Blowing things out of proportion
Social withdrawal
Loss of sexual interest
Teeth grinding
Frequent colds; lowered immunity
Information courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic, Healthy Living, "Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of Stress"

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Why Managing Your Stress Is Important

Stress can affect your health in a number of different ways, none of which are productive or lead to your optimum physical or mental well-being. As trite as it may sound, it is true that if you don't learn to manage and reduce how you react to stressors in your life, stress will instead manage you.

Some of the health conditions that can develop due to unabated stress:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart conditions
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Developing assertiveness and practicing it one small step at a time brings benefits to you such as:

  • Gaining self-confidence and improving self-esteem
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Learning to understand your own feelings
  • Earn respect from others and increase your self-respect
  • Improve communication
  • Create and develop more honest relationships in all aspects of your life

Making use of assertive communication is one of the tools you'll want in your stress management toolbox. There are many other tools that will aid in stress reduction such as exercise, relaxation techniques and the use of positive affirmations. The more of these tools you have at your disposal, the less chance there is that you will be overcome by stress and anxiety.

Find Additional Tools for Your Stress Management Toolbox


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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Femme, I'm glad you found some useful information here on developing assertiveness. I find the videos helpful, too, because sometimes it's difficult to imagine just how I might sound.

      Appreciate the read, comment and Sharing.

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 5 years ago


      Excellent article!

      I loved the schooling on how best to phrase things, without being rude.

      Great information in here and I've passed in on!