Posted by: wellness training services | November 4, 2012

Handling Stress

Handling Stress

By Danielle Gault

Handling stress requires a personal approach.  Different people perceive and manage situations differently. Because this is so, we require individual insights and strategies for increasing our stress-handling effectiveness.

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WHAT IS STRESS?

A definition of stress could be thought of as the demands and pressures in our lives.  These demands and pressures can come from a threat such as rising expenses or changes in government regulations that affect our security. They can come from a challenge such as an increase in our work load during peak times, or changes in the technology that we have to work through.  They can come from a pleasure such as the birth of a new baby or a buying a new house, or getting a promotion.

No matter where the demand or pressure comes from, any change affects our energy and ultimately our health.  No matter what the demand or pressure is, it means change and any kind of change, requires the body to adapt. When we are adapting to something new or different, we are drawing on extra attention within which uses extra energy. We have so much energy available to us and when we are adapting to new, challenging, or threatening situations, our energy levels are reduced.  I remember a friend who complained about her husband and that they just didn’t get along and when asked, why don’t you leave him, she replied, because I just take handle any more change in my life.

Too many demands and pressures on our systems require us to take better care of ourselves during situational and/or challenging times.

 

WHAT MAKES STRESS NEGATIVE?                                                                                                            

When the body responds to demanding and threatening situations, it is responding like the primitive man which means that it response instinctively.  The stress response goes in and the body/mind response registers t as fear.  When fear is present, our body/mind system gets rived up as we produce more adrenalin. Our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure goes up and the flow of blood goes to the outer limbs so that the body can perform a flight or flight response in order to return to safety. If we have this response in our body/minds too long, too much, and too often, we burn out.

We all think, feel, and do but how we generate individual responses to the demands and pressures of life depends on our interpretation. We have the choice of whether or not to give these demands and pressures a positive or negative spin.

Any stress, demand, or pressure in our life is stimulation and any stimulation produces a response in us. Much of how we deal with this stimulation and how it affects us is based on our interpretation of that stimulation.  If we place a negative interpretation on it, then it will go into the body/mind as if it is truly negative.  If we place a positive interpretation on it, then it will go into the body/mind as if it provides us with a stimulating, creative, and positive experience.  Whether negative or positive, we still have to adapt, but at least we don’t feel threatened.

If negative, we go automatically into the flight or fight response where the body is put on alert. When this happens, the heart up goes up, blood pressure goes up, stomach acid goes up, adrenal levels goes up, and mental alertness goes up as well as blood sugar, and cholesterol.  What goes down, is blood flow to the skin, blood flow to the digestive track, and

BECOME MORE AWARE                                                                                                                                     

Stress-related disorders are becoming the norm.  Surviving workplace change in a deepening climate of uncertainty is affecting all of us.  Skills and insights are needed to maintain a stable inner world when it can often appear that the outside world is out of control.  How can we strive and thrive in the challenges facing us in a busy world.

What’s your body trying to tell you about stress?  Many of us don’t recognize early warning signs of stress when they occur.  Check off which symptoms you experience and add any others that are not on this list.

           Physical Symptoms                        Emotions                           Behavior

____ Tight neck & shoulders             ____ Depression               ____ Overeating

____ Pounding heart                            ____ Anger                         ____ Increase in smoking                                                                                                      

____ Chest pain                                      ____ Irritability                ____ Increase in alcohol

____ Headaches                                     ____ Low self-esteem     ____ Reckless driving

____ Upset stomach                            ____ Apathy                       ____ Change in sleep habits  

____Fatigue                                            ____ Impatience               ____ Forgetfulness

____ High blood pressure                 ____ Fear                             ____ Drug use

____ Constipation/Diarrhea            ____ Worry                         ____ Criticizing           

____ Nervous tics                                 ____ Pessimism                ____ Inactivity

____ Rashes                                            ____ Unusual bouts        ____ Teeth grinding

                                                                                                                                           

An important point about tension, demands, and pressures on our systems is that the build up from these is accumulative.  That means that the more stress we feel, the more it is felt in the body, and the quicker more stress is added.  Like a rubber band, if we continue to stretch it, it will eventually snap.  Stress reactions build up.

Whether we are not stimulated enough or we are stimulated too much, depends on personal tolerance levels and the individual’s need for adequate recovery time. Once we understand our personal preferences for creating balance in our lives, we can become proactive through individualized work-life mastery techniques thereby creating the right balance for us.

HOW TO COUNTERACT NEGATIVE STRESS                                                                                                    

What can we do to counteract this accumulative pressure?  We can counteract it with the relaxation response. The relaxation response puts our bodies/minds in a rest and repair state.  This state is also accumulative, which means the more we relax, the more relaxed we feel and the quicker we can relax.  We need the balance between too much stimulation and just the right amount of stimulation.  That is how we achieve balance in our lives and with our health.

When stress reactions in our physical, emotional, and behaviour changes, we have to pay attention to these changes and do something about it. If we do not alter the situation, the negative stress will wear the body down and the body has no choice but to get sick in its attempt to balance the system.

Stress management is not “putting a lid” on the pressure. Stress management is about re-directing the pressure into something positive. Good stress is thought to be just enough pressure in our lives to make a productive, creative, and stimulating life.  The Greeks called this Eustress or Good Stress.  Bad stress is when the pressure of our lives are too long, too much, and too often.  This throws the body/mind balance out of whack and can lead to poor health.

STEPS TO HANDLING STRESS                                                                                                                              

The first step in handling stress is awareness.  How much stress do you have and how is it affecting you?  If you see signs of negative stress, you have to look for alternatives to situations that affect you negatively.  Identify what you can control and what is outside of your control.  If something is outside your control, be careful how you are thinking about it.  Are you a victim?  If so, this will create negative stress.  If you are in a situation of which you have no control, strive to put a positive spin on it until it can change.  Ask yourself what you can learn about yourself in this situation, for example.  Ask yourself if you can increase your tolerance of patience and use the situation as an enlightenment exercise.  Why not?  It is for your own good.

We have the power to choose our attitude about anything that life has to offer and always strive to be the locus of your control instead of having external control from others be what drives your life.  Alter what you can, avoid what you can, and accommodate what you can but do these things because you say so and not because others demand it of you.

The second step is being your own locus of control, which means that you are in control of your own destiny, health, and happiness. Giving over to external control is having the perspective that you are the product of outside forces and being greatly influenced by an outdated mode of thinking, by your friends and family, or by some environmental condition.  External control is often viewed as being subjected to powerful others or being victims of chance of luck.

To be in more control requires that we become more assertive and less concerned about hurting other people’s feelings. Learning to be more assertive can help you improve your self-esteem and avoid being abused by others when you are too willingness to say yes. We can learn to say no and eliminate stressful situations.

Additional steps are that we:

  1. Create some daily rituals such as daily meditation or taking some time to reflect, and exercise at the same time each day.
  2. Learn to stick to our priorities of what is important to us and act on those priorities.
  3. Analyze situations and strive to overcome them by choosing alternative approaches, goals, or strategies once we are more aware of how they are affecting us.
  4. Develop hobbies, learn something different, and plan something creative to do with others.
  5. Increase a better diet into our body and we can reduce alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
  6. Avoid loud noises, stop negative self-talk and turn worries into stepping stones.

MY BEST SUGGESTION:                                                                                                                                                             And the most important thing to remember in life is to know that desire is potentially seeking manifestation. Be sure to desire positive, creative and productive things. Do not do things to not die — do things to enjoy living. Maybe as a by-product, you will not die.

Become a learner of life and continuously ask what you can learn from every situation.

Life is the meaningful co-existence of opposite values.  A person blind from birth cannot know what darkness is because they have never known light. We can’t know one value without experiencing the opposite. Ultimately, there are only two emotions – love and fear.  According to Dr. Carl Jung, the tension of opposites is the very essence of life itself.  Without tension, there would be no energy and consequently no personality.  We can’t appreciate love without understanding and know about fear. With fear comes information and decisions that can be made on how to proceed in any situation. With love, we are simply open, unconditional, and always striving for the productive, creative outcome.

It is our choice to use tension to create either growth and integration or shattering and disintegration around us.  The challenge for us is to use the mind to bring the mind back to union of opposites — back to balance and back to Eustress – good stress so that our lives are productive, creative, and stimulation.

But, we have to be aware of what is the right amount of stress that works for us. We will always be pulled in many directions as our desires strive to be manifested. That is the nature of life.  It is best to desire to live and manifest a satisfying life. We all wish for a life that is full of creative, productive contributions that stimulate internal joy, happiness, and well-being for ourselves. Others will be served by more happy people in the world.  Dr. Bernard Jensen said, I’m going to love you whether you want me to or not, because it is good for me.  Take care of yourself and you will be amazed how other people and other situations will improve around you.

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