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Never take counsel of your fears. ~ Stonewall Jackson

Definition

Stress is an array of responses to change, challenge, or a perceived threat. The way the body attempts to adapt and cope with demands.

  • Positive Stress energizes, invigorates, and motivates.
  • Negative Stress tires, depresses, and demotivates. Negative stress is dysfunctional.

Interestingly, physiological stress response is the same for both positive and negative stress. Our bodies increase adrenaline, and increase blood pressure. Your perception of it can affect your level of stress reaction.

Sources of Stress

Much of common everyday stress comes from the following.

  • An accumulation of minor irritants
  • The fast pace of life events
  • The nature of the school or work environment

Which of the following affect you or your child? * Time: deadlines, increased workload, insufficient resources * Change: new position, new assignment, new demands, anticipation of change, uncertainty about abilities * Relationships: lack of control, threat to status, loss of acceptance by peers/leaders * Financial, family, social responsibilities or setbacks * Life events: divorce, separation, birth/adoption, illness in family, death in family * Physical: weather extremes, temperature extremes, excessive noise, sleep deprivation, chronic pain, excessive travel * Psychological: fear, worry, perfectionism, guilt, anger

Symptoms: stress manifests through physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. * Physical: muscle tension, headaches, upset stomach, fatigue, rashes, teeth grinding, chest pain, pounding heart * Emotional: depression, anger, frustration, irritability, low self-esteem, apathy, impatience, powerlessness * Behavioral: change in the inhabitants, increased smoking, changes sleeping habits, inability to concentrate, drug or alcohol abuse

Handling Stress Effectively

Recognizing symptoms in yourself and your people is the first step. Use your stress energy wisely. Safeguard your health from adverse effects of stress. * Make better use of time and energy * Clarify goals * Make a plan * Make a to-do list * Break large tasks down into manageable sub-tasks * Pace yourself * Prioritize * Improve relationships * Develop networks with peers * Use active listening * Make a stand on important issues * Respect yourself and others * Practice being assertive * Be gracious, but firm * Accept, don’t judge * Ask for advice * Find both a physical and psychological escape that you can use during the day * Alter your outlook * Use humor * Try something creative * Ask “Will this matter, a year from now?” * Build stamina * Exercise daily * Stretch every muscle systematically each day * Eat less * Eat natural * Eat nutritious * Substitute fruit and vegetables for sugar * Drink water in place of coffee alcohol * Practice relaxation techniques daily * Relax before going to bed * Get enough sleep (kids need 8-10 hours) * Develop a hobby that is relaxing and fun * Eliminate stressors * Develop resiliency * Improve short-term coping * One proactive way to reduce the performance impact to negative stress and overcome fear is to help your followers have confidence and believe in themselves. Ensure they have the know-how and skills * so they can regain their confidence. * Constantly upgrade your self confidence and courage. * Negative stress is fatiguing. Fatigue brings out the worst in people. Help people overcome fear by teaching them to visualize success.

Understand the human dimension and anticipate people’s reactions to stress, especially to the stress of change. However, if you think about stress and its effects on you and your followers ahead of time, you’ll be less surprised and better prepared to deal with and reduce its effects.

In particular with children, they often do not realize they are stressed, and act out subconsciously. The adult may have to identify or help identify the source and suggest effective countermeasures.

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KW Lanham


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