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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coping with Stress

Stress is defined as (among others):
  1. Physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress.
  2. A situation, occurrence, or factor causing this: The stress of being trapped in the elevator gave him a pounding headache.
  3. A specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.
When we as individuals encounter stress under the first and second definition, we almost always see the results in the third definition. There are several methods to cope with stress that we will address.
Alter – one of the most effective ways to cope with stress is to alter the source of the stress. In effect, remove it. This may not be the easiest option, but is THE most effective. For example: your shoes do not fit, causing you stress because you are unable to walk properly. Change your shoes. While this solution is simple it illustrates how you can alter the situation.
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Be more assertive.
  • Manage your time better.
Avoid – remove yourself from the situation. You know that a particular person “pushes your buttons” so to avoid the stress of the situation, avoid interactions with that person. Many of us have acquaintances or family with whom this may be the biggest source of stress. If at all possible, don’t allow yourself to be caught up in those types of situations.
  • Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them.
  • Avoid people who stress you out – Limit the amount of time you spend with the person or end the relationship entirely.
  • Take control of your environment – Traffic gets you tense, see if you can use public transportation, change your work hours or take a longer but less-traveled route.
  • Avoid hot-button topics – Repeatedly arguing about the same subject with the same people, excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
  • Pare down your to-do list – Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”
Accept- just as it says. You have no control over the weather, but if you are flying from one destination to another, the weather may be grounding flights. You need to accept the fact that you cannot go anywhere, SO why let it stress you out. Another example: you must work with someone that just grates on your nerves; accept them for who they are and learn to work with them.
  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.
  • Look for the upside.
  • Share your feelings with a friend or a therapist.
  • Learn to forgive.
Building resistance – There are three ways to build resistance – physical, mental or spiritual. In certain situations you will need to do all three to effectively do your job. Example: you feel stress because you were just placed on a new line at work and physically cannot keep up due to your inability to lift 25 pounds. It causes you to worry about whether or not you will be able to keep your job. You can begin a weight lifting regime to increase your strength.
Changing perceptions – a quote I heard was “when I change, others change”. It isn’t so much about the others changing as it is about your perception of others.
Manage expectations – this once is quite simple – if you have no expectations, you have no disappointments. Is what you are expecting of yourself and others realistic? If you are expecting too much of (insert whatever or whoever you want here because it would apply) you will surely be let down. Humans are fallible beings and can only do so much.
Build self-esteem – if you are more confident in yourself, you will be more self-assured. If you help build others confidence, it will go a long way to avoiding a conflict situation.
Navigate change by your reactions – everything about stress can be handled within yourself. It is how you react to the situations that present themselves to you. But you can help control your stress level by taking care of yourself:
  • Get moving - For maximum stress relief, try to get at least 30 minutes of heart pounding activity on most days but activity can be broken up into two or three short segments.
  • Make food choices that keep you going and make you feel good - Eating small but frequent meals throughout the day maintains an even level of blood sugar in your body.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid nicotine - Alcohol only temporarily reduces anxiety and worry and smoking when you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher levels of anxiety.
  • Get enough sleep - lack of sleep leaves you vulnerable to stress.
  • Reducing stress by prioritizing and organizing.
• Time management tips for reducing job stress
  • Create a balanced schedule.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself.
  • Try to leave earlier in the morning.
  • Plan regular breaks.
• Task management tips for reducing job stress
  • Prioritize tasks.
  • Break projects into small steps.
  • Delegate responsibility.

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