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Managing Stress - an Adaptive Response

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Posted 17 February 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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• Bespoke in-house training.
These can be tailored to your specific needs.
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You may find the following will help with your Stress Management skills training.

Managing stress - An adaptive response

During these days of austerity and cut backs, there is a lot of talk about stress.

Stress is often spoken of as if stress were a deadly contagious disease that periodically sweeps the nation. Like bird flu.

  • But stress is not bird flu.
  • Stress is not a disease.
  • Stress is not a virus.

And stress is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Stress is a stimulus. And for every stimulus there is a response.
  • Stress is a cause, and for every cause there is an effect.
  • Stress is an action, and for every action there is a reaction.

The big question is:

  • What is your response to stress; is it adaptive or maladaptive.
  • What are the causes of your stress? And are your reactions helping or hindering?
  • What is the action, and what is the reaction?

You can make your stresses be the trigger to growth and improved performance.

Or you can make your stresses the cause of much pain and suffering.

To some degree, the choice is yours

Let us ask you a few questions relating to your reactions to the stresses of life:

Give yourself one mark for every yes answer

Do you ever have:

  1. Feelings of overwhelm: meaning that you imagine that your problems are bigger than you are.
  2. Too many feelings of fear for the future.
  3. Too many feelings of over tiredness.
  4. Over reactions to trivial upsets or setbacks.
  5. Breakdown of personal or professional relationships.
  6. Reduction in work efficiency.
  7. Frequent bouts of illnesses from various causes.
  8. Inability to get off to sleep.
  9. Inability to stay asleep. Waking in the night and not being able to stop thinking about fears or past memories.
  10. A loss of peace of mind.
  11. A desire to "make the world go away".
  12. Feelings of mild depression.
  13. Loss of physical vitality.
  14. The inability to make decisions.
  15. The feeling that if you have made a decision it might be the wrong one.
  16. The temptation to turn to drugs, to alleviate the pain of thinking about your problems or your memories.
  17. The temptation to turn to food, to alleviate the pain of thinking about your problems or your memories.
  18. The inability to manage priorities. Evading the painful tasks by doing only the easy tasks.
  19. The inability to motivate yourself to do the things you know you should do.
  20. A lack of energy. Waking up tired. Before you even start the day, you want to crawl back into bed.

What is your score out of 20?

If you score more than 8 then you need to make some changes.

Luckily the questions suggest their own remedy.

1. If you imagine that your problems are bigger than you are, then break big problems down into their constituent parts and take-on each smaller part, one at a time. Napoleon said, "Divide the enemy and he will crumble".

2. Too many feelings of fear for the future. Then focus your mind not on your fears but on your goals. Write out your goals and then write out how you might achieve them. Replace fears with clear goals and definite plans of action.

3. Too many feelings of over tiredness. If you are tired, check your nutrition. Are you eating too much rubbish? Are you eating insufficient good food? Or are you drinking too much alcohol and not enough water?

4. Over reactions to trivial upsets or setbacks. Then ask yourself "is this really important when compared to real problems?"

Get a sense of realistic perspective.

  • Did anyone die?
    No.
  • Was anyone injured?
    No.
  • Is everyone still in one piece?
    Yes.
  • Then relax.

5. Breakdown of personal or professional relationships. Don't make the mistake of taking out your frustrations on the person who loves you the most. Keep your relationships sacred.

6. Reduction in work efficiency. Make your work systems, systematic. Don't let poor systems become the cause of your stress. Your stress can be reduced by 30% by imposing good systems onto your daily work habits. Unsystematic people are often stressed. Very systematic people rarely are.

7. Frequent bouts of illnesses from various causes. Increase the quality of your food. Decrease the quantity of your food. Increase the amount of exercise. Increase the amount of sleep. Decrease the amount of alcohol. Come off any illegal drugs. Limit your use of prescription drugs.

8. Inability to get off to sleep. Go to bed earlier. Read a book out and keep reading it until you are so tired from reading that your brain brakes and you fall asleep.

9. Inability to stay asleep. Waking in the night and not being able to stop thinking about fears or past memories. If you wake up in the night, and cannot stop from thinking about the thing, pick up the book and read it some more. Or listen to an audio book. Crowd out the bad thought.

10. A loss of peace of mind. You find peace of mind by working to control the content of your conscious mind. Do that by thinking about your goals for the future. Not your memories of the past.

11. A desire to "make the world go away". The world will not go away. Facts are facts. Whether you like them or not. You need to take an assertive stance, with life. Write your goals. Write your plans and take action.

12. Feelings of mild depression. Depression is inevitable if you have no goal. And no plan. And if you are taking no actions. In the absence of light there is darkness. In the absence of adaptive response there is sadness.

13. Loss of physical vitality. See the above answers relating to diet, sleep, goals, plans and action.

14. The inability to make decisions. Think on paper. Use a decision matrix to put all your thoughts onto paper. Score the elements of the decision, and add up the totals to give you a winner. The winner wins, and the decision is made.

15. The feeling that if you have made a decision it might be the wrong one. If it is wrong, change it. You can always have another go. The sun will come up again tomorrow. That gives you one more chance to win.

16. The temptation to turn to drugs, to alleviate the pain of thinking about your problems or your memories. Drugs don't make champions. Only intelligent plans and vibrant health make champions.

17. The temptation to turn to food, to alleviate the pain of thinking about your problems or your memories. You cannot eat yourself happy. You should eat small amounts of high quality food. Not the other way around.

18. The inability to manage priorities. Evading the painful tasks by doing only the easy tasks.

Don't evade the hard stuff. The hard stuff should be done first, when you are at your freshest. Don't put it off. Do it now.

19. The inability to motivate yourself to do the things you know you should do.

Tell yourself, "If I should, then I must".

Tell yourself, "The longer I leave it, the harder it gets. The grass gets longer and harder to cut, the longer I leave it. Cut the grass whilst it is still quite short."

20. A lack of energy. Waking up tired. Before you even start the day, you want to crawl back into bed. Develop systems that will increase your mental and physical vitality.

Have a goal. Have a plan. Take daily action in pursuance of your goals. Eat well. Don't drink much alcohol. Don't take drugs. Go to bed early and read yourself to sleep. Control the content of your mind. Treat yourself and others with respect. Tell yourself that your future will be way better than your past. Break all problems down to smaller subset problems. Take smaller problems on one at a time. Make decisions according to a written decision matrix. Keep coming back stronger, every day, with an improved plan of action, more energy and a greater commitment to achieve your goals.

See?

It's Easy.

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