Managing Stress: Create calm, at work and in your personal life

From http://www.mahederetena.com

Many of us experience stress in life, whether this is in the short term from one-off projects, or long-term stress from a high-pressure career.

Not only can this be profoundly unpleasant, it can seriously affect our health and our work. However, it is possible to manage stress, if you use the right tools and techniques.

 From http://georgianbaymt.blogspot.co.nz

What is Stress?

A widely accepted definition of stress, attributed to psychologist and professor Richard Lazarus, is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”

This means that we experience stress if we believe that we don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to handle a situation. In short, we experience stress when we feel “out of control.”

This also means that different people handle stress differently, in different situations: you’ll handle stress better if you’re confident in your abilities, if you can change the situation to take control, and if you feel that you have the help and support needed to do a good job.

 From http://inspireandmotivateme.blogspot.co.nz

Signs of Stress

Everyone reacts to stress differently. However, some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet.
  • Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
    Persistent difficulty concentrating.
  • Social withdrawal or isolation.
  • Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
  • Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
  • Significant weight gain or loss.
  • Consistent feelings of being overwhelmed or overloaded.
  • Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness.
  • Frequent crying spells, depression or suicidal thoughts

From https://www.boundless.com

 How to Manage Stress

The first step in managing stress is to understand where these feeling are coming from.

Keep a stress diary to identify the causes of short-term or frequent stress in your life. As you write down events, think about why this situation stresses you out. Also, use the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to identify specific events that could put you at risk of long-term stress.

Then, consider using some of the approaches below to manage your stress. You’ll likely be able to use a mix of strategies from each area.

From http://www.pinterest.com

1. Action-Oriented Approaches

With action-oriented approaches, you take action to change the stressful situations, e.g.:

  • Manage your time and priorities
  • Be more assertive in managing your boundaries
  • Take action to minimize stress in your working environment.

From http://mindfulcogitations.blogspot.co.nz

2. Emotion-Oriented Approaches

Emotion-oriented approaches are useful when the stress you’re experiencing comes from the way that you perceive a situation.

To change how you think about stressful situations:

From http://www.9monthsin9monthsout.com

3. Acceptance-Oriented Approaches

Acceptance-oriented approaches apply to situations where you have no power to change what happens, and where situations are genuinely bad.

To build your defenses against stress:

  • Use techniques like meditation and physical relaxation to calm yourself when you feel stressed.
  • Take advantage of your support network (e.g. your family and friends).
  • Get enough exercise and sleep, and learn how to make the most of your down time, so that you can recover from stressful events
  • Use laughter, humour and smile to de-stress yourself and transform stress to strength 🙂

From https://www.linkedin.com/

How are you coping with stress in your life? 
What approach helps you the most?

THE END

Engaging reluctant ‘badgers’: what would you do?

BadgerReluctant badger from ‘He Got Caught’ cartoon

I always liked old Russian cartoons that I used to watch in my childhood. While they might look less colourful and dynamic than Disney’s animations, their characters are truly endearing. I still enjoy watching some of those cartoons and as an adult, I always discover something new in them, something I have not spotted when I was watching them as a child. Here is one of my favourite Soviet cartoons called “He got caught”. The little mouse in this cartoon is so much like me as a child. Although I was the youngest and the smallest in my family, my explosive temperament and stubbornness (oops, I mean persistence, determination and resilience 😉 ) were definitely making up for my inferior physical characteristics.

My children came across this cartoon the other day.

“Which character in this cartoon resembles me?”,  I asked, expecting them to point at the little mouse.

“Oh, you are so like this squirrel”, they giggled.

“The squirrel? Hm…”. Their answer puzzled me at first, but then I thought they might be right. I looks like I did change my ‘character’ over time. I’m not a little mouse any more, I’m more of a ‘squirrel’ now, just like the one in this cartoon.

“The little mouse is me,” added my youngest child with a big grin. So true. Other children laughed.

“And I’m the beaver”, chuckled my oldest child.

“And the badger”, they all burst into laughter; “We have the badger in the family too…”

“Oh yes, the badger,” I thought. We definitely have the badger too. I bet you have seen such badgers in your life. How would you get such reluctant badger to engage with family life and activities, to get out of his or her comfort zone, to develop new skills? What would you do?

HumanBadgerFrom The Medical Journal of Australia

THE END

Researching the Money-Empathy Gap

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Bible, Mark 10:25

CamelFrom Class Warfare?

New research suggests that more money makes people act less human. Or at least less humane.

Psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley have found that “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals.” They also discovered that “Putting someone in a role where they’re more privileged and have more power in a game makes them behave like people who actually do have more power, more money, and more status”.

Check out their experiments on the Money-Empathy Gap in the video below:

These experiments also demonstrated that while a poor man playing in a ‘rich world’ becomes more self-centred, a rich man playing in a ‘poor’ world becomes more compassionate to others. That can potentially help people understand their subconscious biases and relate better to others.

Prince Pauper“As long as the King lived he was fond of telling the story of his adventures, all through, from the hour that the sentinel cuffed him away from the palace gate till the final midnight when he deftly mixed himself into a gang of hurrying workmen and so slipped into the Abbey and climbed up and hid himself in the Confessor’s tomb, and then slept so long, next day, that he came within one of missing the Coronation altogether. He said that the frequent rehearsing of the precious lesson kept him strong in his purpose to make its teachings yield benefits to his people; and so, whilst his life was spared he should continue to tell the story, and thus keep its sorrowful spectacles fresh in his memory and the springs of pity replenished in his heart.”

From “The Prince and The Pauper” by Mark Twain

THE END