Stress Management, a priority training topic back in the eighties and nineties, is making a big comeback. Today’s work climate is plagued with budget cuts, heavy workloads, and fewer employees being expected to do the work previously intended for numbers greater than their own. The current stress-related statistics reveal:
- Job burnout experienced by 25% to 40% of U.S. workers is stress related
- Depression is the leading occupational disease of the 21st Century
- $300 billion, $7,500 per employee, is spent annually in the U.S. on stress related compensation claims
- Employee stress levels are positively correlated to on-the-job accidents, work days missed due to illness, and team and individual effectiveness
In response to a client request, I recently developed a stress management workshop that I called, “Got Resiliency?” My workshop identifies and explores three steps to increasing one’s resiliency and capacity for healthily coping with life’s stressors. Over the course of my next few blog entries, I will share the three steps along with practical application ideas for you to use to increase your own resiliency and health. (Contact me for your personalized “Coping and Stress Management” assessment).
Three Steps to Greater Resiliency:
- Awareness of Stressors
- Self Support (emotional, mental, spiritual)
- Wellness Support (physical)
Step 1: Awareness of Stressors
This involves increasing your awareness to your own unique stressors, how you respond to these stressors, and what symptoms you experience as a result of your response.
Stressors fall into two general categories: External stressors and Internal stressors. External stressors are those coming from our environment, our work, our family, etc. Some examples are: work demands, relationships with boss or co-workers, family concerns, moving, death of spouse or loved one, finances, illness, etc. External stressors may be things outside of our control (traffic jam, death of a relative, car or major appliance breaking down), or they may be things that we have some ability to influence such as our relationships with others and our health.
Internal stressors are those that come from within and include one’s:
- Expectations of self and others
- Self Image
- Perspectives or perceptions
- Beliefs or Assumptions
- Fear and Anxiety
External stressors are relatively easy to identify. Our internal stressors, the ways in which we cause ourselves stress, unintentionally, and perhaps unconsciously, are somewhat more evasive at first. Use the checklist below to identify your top few stressors in each category.
EXTERNAL WORK-BASED STRESSORS.
_____Too many responsibilities
_____Demanding or Unreasonable Deadlines
_____Conflicts with management or co-workers
_____Demanding or difficult customers
_____Conflicting demands / unclear expectations
_____Lack of control over my workload and/or decisions affecting my job
_____Job insecurity due to cutbacks, layoffs, downsizing, reorganization
_____Limited opportunity for advancement and/or inadequate pay
EXTERNAL PERSONAL /HOMELIFE STRESSORS.
_____Death of significant person i.e., a spouse, friend, relative, or family member:
_____Separation or divorce
_____Health problems or injury
_____Finances (not enough money and/or heavy debt:
_____Conflicts with mate, inlaws, family or friend(s):
_____Challenges with children
_____Expectations of self & others (should’s, have to’s)
_____Poor self-image; lack of belief or confidence in self
_____Perspective on situations that leave me feeling “stuck,” hopeless, or resigned
_____Worry, anxiety, fear over future / future events
_____Regret, resentment, guilt over past / past events
_____Lack of asserting or clearly stating my needs and wants in a situation
_____Lack of control or power over my circumstances
Most of our stress comes from within, not from without. Even in the face of the most challenging external circumstances, we GET TO CHOOSE our response, our perspective, our approach. Our response, perspective, approach, in turn, either increases our resilience, our calm, our groundedness, OR leads us to experience more stress.
Below is an introduction to several strategies for increasing our capacity to choose the resilient, empowered approach to our stressors. Stay with me over my next several blog entries as I’ll share specific ideas, information, and techniques in each area below.
Step 2, Self Support, looks at how we support ourselves towards greater resiliency in an emotional, mental, and spiritual sense. Specifically important are:
- Inner dialogue: the conversation you carry on with yourself all throughout the day. Is it positive, negative, affirming, demeaning, full of unmet expectations (i.e.: should have done this; shouldn’t have done that)?
- Presence and Appreciating What is: the art of living in the here and now
- Perspective: the way you view or perceive a certain situation, your work, a relationship, etc.
- Beliefs: The underlying “truths” we hold about ourselves, others, organizations, relationships, etc. For example: “I have to be in control of this or…” “This ______ is going to be difficult.” “I’m not good enough, smart enough, experienced enough, ______enough to do this well.”
Self support is an interesting area to explore. Often, our currently method of “supporting” ourselves in this area is unconscious, habitual, and not so, well, supportive. I’ll share techniques and ideas for developing a practice of conscious self support in Part 2 of this blog series.
Step 3, Wellness Support, looks at how we support our bodies towards greater resiliency in a physical sense. Specifically important are:
- A good, clean diet, filled with whole food nutrition
- Amount of exercise or movement we provide for ourselves
- Amount of clean water we drink each day
- Amount of sleep we allow for ourselves each night
Wellness support is a big topic, and will be the focus of Part 3 of this blog series.
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Join the discussion: Share your tips for effectively managing stress and for increasing your resilience.