Stress Buster Tips
What is Stress?
Stress is a physiological and psychological process where our ability to handle a given situation is compromised due to a perceived or real threat. Stress can occur due to no fault of our own (robbed at gun point) or it can be the result of poor management and planning (waiting until the last minute to pay taxes).
Whatever the reason for your stress, this site is a resource to help you overcome stress that is avoidable as well as understand why you become stressed and how to decrease the stress in your life. Stress is a normal process that we all go through and in some cases it is important to our survival of novel and uncertain situations.
SIGNS OF STRESS
Feeling of sadness
Uninterested in pleasurable activities
Feelings of worthlessness
Avoiding activities or events
Neglecting your responsibilities
Poor money management
Problems with friends and family
CAUSES OF STRESS
- Taking on too many responsibilities (get groceries, pick up kids, etc..)
- Poor time management/unrealistic goals (checking email often, no time for large projects)
- Procrastination on tasks that are hard or unpleasant (wait until the last minute to do taxes)
- Poor listening skills (Don't you remember you said you would...)
- Disorganization (Now where did I put my keys?)
- Doing it all for yourself (laundry, gardening, taxes, babysitter, etc.. )
- Life changes out of your control (death of loved one, change jobs, unemployment, etc..)
FOUR STAGES OF A STRESS REACTION
1) Recognition is becoming aware of a new demand.
- Example: You have to pick up your kid from school because they got sick.
2) Appraisal is unconsciously determining if the new situation will pose a threat to yourself or require more resources than you possess.
- Example: Can I take that much time off of work?, What will my coworkers think if I leave early?, Is there anyone else who could do it?
3) Mobilization is the bodies physiological and emotional reaction to this new demand in order to better prepare for the situation (fight or flight response, learn more about it here)
- Example: You experience an increased heart rate, boost in energy levels, higher blood pressure, etc..
4) Response is the neutralization or avoidance of the stressor.
- Example: You call a family friend to pick up your child, find a work replacement or decide your kid will just have to tough it out til you are off of work, etc..
FIRST, CARE FOR YOURSELF
If you are spending all your energy on other people you are not doing justice for yourself or them. In fact it may add to others stress as well.
The best way you can help is by taking care of your needs first and foremost.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOURSELF
Find activities that help you relax: yoga, meditation, quiet reading time, hot bath,
List your social supports: friends, relative or coworkers that can help you out.
Get enough sleep: even 30 minutes more each night or a 15 minute nap at lunch can help.
Find time for fun and laughter: Listen to a funny audio book, listen to music and spend some time with family.
Eat well and groom yourself: Spend a little more on healthy alternatives and make sure you feel as clean and healthy as you can.
Create attainable goals for yourself.
Think positively about yourself.
Find "ME" time to evaluate your motivation, thoughts and beliefs.
MENTAL PROCESS IN STRESS
Expectations and Self Fulfilling Prophecy:
The expectation that something bad will happen can cause you to act in a such a way that will make sure something bad happens. The best way to deal with this is to find evidence to convince yourself that nothing bad will happen
- Example: Fear of public speaking, think about when you last spoke, did anything bad happen, nope.
Mental and Visual Imagery:
If you believe something bad will happen your brain may use that information to formulate a mental image or dialogue of how the instance could occur if your fears are founded.
The best way to deal with this is to consciously think about a positive way the events could occur and visualize the positive outcome.
- Example: Fear of public speaking, visualize that you are able to answer everyones questions or that everyone is more nervous than you.
We all have a voice that represents our conscious thoughts but it can also work against us by belittling our abilities and making up worse case scenarios. Because this voice is with us all day long it is hard to ignore so we must consciously think positively and push the negative thoughts out when they enter.
- Example: Mind says "You will fail this test", Tell yourself instead "I studied hard for this test so if I stay focused and calm I will know the right answers".
Foresight is often wrong:
Although our brain has the amazing ability to visualize what will happen before it happens our brain also puts much more emphasis on the event than what will really occur.
For instance, one person wins the lottery and another person becomes a paraplegic. After one year they are rated on how happy they are since the event. Most people would assume (visualize) that winning the lottery would cause that person to be much happier after a year but in actuality both scored similarly in terms of happiness.
It is important to remember that when we visualize an outcome it is usually very exaggerated either positively or negatively and this can work in our favor or cause a lot of stress.
Tricks to Beat the Stress
IN THE SHOWER
- Run the water over your face and head.
- Close your eyes and take long deep breaths.
- Listen, feel and smell your surroundings.
- Imagine the water is washing away your troubles.
- Say "I am refreshed" to yourself in a calm, soothing voice.
TAKE A WALK
- Turn off the electronics
- Take a deep breath and stand straight
- Listen to your environment and your body
- Feel the gait and movement of your body.
- Let ideas flow in and out easily without concentrating on a single one.
- Walk for 10 minutes this way.
ON THE ROAD (stopped in traffic)
- Scrunch up your forehead and breath in deeply, repeat as needed.
- Tense and relax each part of your body
- Start at your head and work your way down.
- Sit quietly and breath deeply.
- Close your eyes, breath deeply
- Think about the task at hand.
- Think about the steps needed to complete it
- Think about which of your talents will accomplish the goal.
- Imagine the project is complete
- Take a short break and stand in a confident pose, just modeling a confident pose can make you feel more confident.