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guide

Healthy Living

STRESS MANAGEMENT


STRESS TOPIC ONE How Can You Manage Stress? If you recognize signs of job related stress then the next step is to identify the stressor(s).

Could it be: · · · · · · · · · ·

Work overload/under load? Too much/too little responsibility? Dissatisfaction with current role or duties? Long hours? Lack of adequate resources? Excessive paperwork/reporting? Low participation of clients in programs? Hostile or unresponsive clients? Changing and new regulations/ policies/personnel? Public speaking?

Sources of Stress: • • • • • • • •

Change Daily Hassles Unrealistic Expectations Time management Job pressures Money/financial problems Death of a loved one Breakup of a relationship

Signs and Symptoms of Stress: Stress can affect you physically, behaviorally, and cognitively or emotionally. However, the signs and symptoms of stress vary from person to person. Below are a few common signs and symptoms of stress. Physical signs and symptoms: • • • • • •

Headaches Chest pain or rapid heartbeat Exhaustion or fatigue Insomnia or other sleep problems Muscle aches, muscle tension, or even back pain Clenching or grinding teeth


• Weight gain or loss • Digestive concerns such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset or nausea Behavioral signs and symptoms: • • • • •

Over or under eating Use or abuse of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco Decreased productivity or neglecting responsibilities Isolating oneself or social withdrawal Relationship and interpersonal conflicts

Cognitive and emotional signs and symptoms: • • • • •

Forgetfulness and memory problems Moodiness or mood swings Depression, sadness, or sense of loneliness/isolation Anger, irritability, anxiety, short temper, or impatience Job dissatisfaction or burnout

Job Stress and Health: What the Research Tells Us Cardiovascular Disease Many studies suggest that psychologically demanding jobs that allow employees little control over the work process increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Musculoskeletal Disorders On the basis of research by NIOSH and many other organizations, it is widely believed that job stress increases the risk for development of back and upper- extremity musculoskeletal disorders. Psychological Disorders Several studies suggest that differences in rates of mental health problems (such as depression and burnout) for various occupations are due partly to differences in job stress levels. (Economic and lifestyle differences between occupations may also contribute to some of these problems.) Workplace Injury Although more study is needed, there is a growing concern that stressful working conditions interfere with safe work practices and set the stage for injuries at work. Suicide, Cancer, Ulcers, and Impaired Immune Function Some studies suggest a relationship between stressful working conditions and these health problems. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.


What is Stress? Stress is the way we respond to change. Stress is what you experience when you believe you cannot cope effectively with a situation. For many people “tension” or “pressure” are other words for stress. Most people think of stressors as negative but stressors can also be positive experiences. Your body may react with tense muscles, headache, or stomach ache to making a public speech or completing a satisfying project as well as to the loss of a loved one. Stress has physical and emotional effects on us. It can create positive or negative feelings. It is the wear and tear our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. We cannot eliminate stress from our lives but we can learn how to manage stress and its effects. Building Skills for Stress Reduction: 1. Assessing Your Stressors In many cases, we cannot prevent the occurrence of distress; however, we can train ourselves to recognize the events that cause distress and to anticipate the reactions we have to them. 2. Changing Your Responses Stop before reacting to gain the time you need to find the right response. Ask yourself, "What is to be gained from my response?" Have you ever gotten all worked up about something only to find out that your perceptions were totally wrong? We often get upset not by realities but by faulty insight. • Worry constructively. Don't waste time and energy worrying about things you can't change or events that may never happen. • Look at life as being fluid. If you accept that change is a natural part of living and growing, the shock of changes may become less stressful. • Do not rush into action. Always think before you act. 3. Managing Your Time • • •

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Take on only one thing at a time. Clean off your desk. Most of us spend many stressful minutes each day

looking for things that are lost on our desks or in our homes. Prioritize your tasks. Make a daily “to do” list and try to stick to it. Categorize things you must do today, the things that you have to do but not immediately, and the things that it would be nice to do. Don’t be afraid to say no. All too often we do things out of fear of what someone may think. Avoid interruptions. When you have a project that requires total concentration, schedule uninterrupted time. Unplug the phone or let your


answering machine get the call. •

Break overwhelming tasks into smaller pieces, and assign a certain amount of time to each. If you are having trouble with a task, move on and come back to it when you’re refreshed.

Reward yourself for being efficient. Take some time out of the day for “you.” Go for a walk. Start reading something you’ve been wanting to read, but haven’t had time for.

Steps Toward Prevention Low morale, health and job complaints, and employee turnover often provide the first signs of job stress. But sometimes there are no clues, especially if employees are fearful of losing their jobs. Lack of obvious or widespread signs is not a good reason to dismiss concerns about job stress or minimize the importance of a prevention program. Step 1 — Identify the Problem. The best method to explore the scope and source of a suspected stress problem in an organization depends partly on the size of the organization and the available resources. Group discussions among managers, labor representatives, and employees can provide rich sources of information. Such discussions may be all that is needed to track down and remedy stress problems in a small company. In a larger organization, such discussions can be used to help design formal surveys for gathering input about stressful job conditions from large numbers of employees. Regardless of the method used to collect data, information should be obtained about employee perceptions of their job conditions and perceived levels of stress, health, and satisfaction. The list of job conditions that may lead to stress and the warning signs and effects of stress provide good starting points for deciding what information to collect. Objective measures such as absenteeism, illness and turnover rates, or performance problems can also be examined to gauge the presence and scope of job stress. However, these measures are only rough indicators of job stress-at best. Data from discussions, surveys, and other sources should be summarized and analyzed to answer questions about the location of a stress problem and job conditions that may be responsible-for example, are problems present throughout the organization or confined to single departments or specific jobs? Survey design, data analysis, and other aspects of a stress prevention program may require the help of experts from a local university or consulting firm. However, overall authority for the prevention program should remain in the organization. Step 2 — Design and Implement Interventions. Once the sources of stress at work have been identified and the scope of the problem is understood, the stage is set for design and implementation of an intervention strategy.


In small organizations, the informal discussions that helped identify stress problems may also produce fruitful ideas for prevention. In large organizations, a more formal process may be needed. Frequently, a team is asked to develop recommendations based on analysis of data from Step 1 and consultation with outside experts. Target source of stress for change. • Propose and prioritize intervention strategies. • Communicate planned interventions to employees. • Implement Interventions. Certain problems, such as a hostile work environment, may be pervasive in the organization and require company-wide interventions. Other problems such as excessive workload may exist only in some departments and thus require more narrow solutions such as redesign of the way a job is performed. Still other problems may be specific to certain employees and resistant to any kind of organizational change, calling instead for stress management or employee assistance interventions. Some interventions might be implemented rapidly (e.g., improved communication, stress management training), but others may require additional time to put into place (e.g., redesign of a manufacturing process). •

Step 3 — Evaluate the Interventions. Evaluation is an essential step in the intervention process. Evaluation is necessary to determine whether the intervention is producing desired effects and whether changes in direction are needed. Time frames for evaluating interventions should be established. Interventions involving organizational change should receive both short- and long-term scrutiny. Short-term evaluations might be done quarterly to provide an early indication of program effectiveness or possible need for redirection. Many interventions produce initial effects that do not persist. Long-term evaluations are often conducted annually and are necessary to determine whether interventions produce lasting effects. Evaluations should focus on the same types of information collected during the problem identification phase of the intervention, including information from employees about working conditions, levels of perceived stress, health problems, and satisfaction. Employee perceptions are usually the most sensitive measure of stressful working conditions and often provide the first indication of intervention effectiveness. Adding objective measures such as absenteeism and health care costs may also be useful. However, the effects of job stress interventions on such measures tend to be less clear-cut and can take a long time to appear. The job stress prevention process does not end with evaluation. Rather, job stress prevention should be seen as a continuous process that uses evaluation data to refine or redirect the intervention strategy. It may not always be possible to change stressful circumstances. However, it often is possible to learn healthy responses. Becoming skilled at stress management takes practice, but it is one of the best things that people can do for themselves and their loved ones. Stress management


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Protects physical and mental health Can help prevent or reduce depression, anxiety, and burnout Can help prevent or reduce many other serious conditions, such as excess weight gain or loss, sleep disorders, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders Boosts stamina Facilitates sleep Brightens mood and outlook Improves productivity Can enhance work and family relationships Can add quality years to one’s life

Ten Characteristics of Highly Effective Stress Managers 1. They know how to relax 2. They eat right and exercise often 3. They get enough sleep 4. They don’t worry about the unimportant 5. They don’t get angry often 6. They are organized 7. They manage their time efficiently 8. They have and make use of a strong social support system 9. They live according to their values 10. They have a good sense of humor


STRESS TOPIC TWO

What Is Stress? Stress can be defined as a physical and/or emotional reaction that occurs when external demands do not correspond to an individual's capabilities, resources, or needs. Stress can also manifest itself in unrelated areas, such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, financial concerns, parenting difficulties, addiction, etc. Stress is not inherently positive or negative; rather it is defined by an individual's response. Stress can be considered to have a positive influence if it enhances one's ability to meet or exceed an identified goal. For example, getting married, having a baby, buying a home, or starting a new job are often associated with positive outcomes. Because they are meaningful, they require a lot of personal energy and investment. In these situations, stress acts as a motivator. Alternatively, stress has a negative influence if it impedes an individual's ability to balance their demands against their resources. It can present in the form of too much work, unrealistic deadlines, and financial pressures and prevent an individual from effectively managing responsibilities. The end result is "distress." Everywhere you look, there is advice on how to lower your stress level, cut stress out of your life, learn to relax, etc. Stress, however, is a daily component of most of our lives. Learning to manage stress is essential, not only to be effective in the workplace, but also to protect your health. When the stress level is manageable or when we have developed effective coping mechanisms, the impact of stress on our lives is minimal. Unfortunately, we do not always recognize the degree of impact. In addition to "feeling out of control" in our lives, unmanageable levels of stress may actually cause or exacerbate new or already existing problems in totally unrelated areas such as relationship difficulties, financial concerns, and work-related issues. There is also a documented physical component to stress. High levels of stress have been associated with both heart disease and cancer, as well as neck and back pain. Other stress associations include increased blood pressure, increased use of nicotine and alcohol and increased levels of adrenaline. Research has indicated that individuals at risk for heart disease and cancer have a better chance at recovery when individuals implement a successful stress management plan. In fact, in a study by Duke University Medical Center reported by USA Today in 1997, a stress-management program helped heart patients reduce their risk of heart attacks or the need for surgery by 74%.

Factors I m pacting Stress Response Everyone responds to stress differently. Depending on an individual's 'Stress Threshold', some people may find themselves gravitating towards high intensity situations while others may experience high levels of anxiety or distress when faced with the same


experience. Although we will encourage you to identify your stress threshold, regardless of whether yours is high or low, when the level of stress in your life surpasses your individual limit, you experience distress . No one is born with a predetermined stress threshold. In fact, there are a variety of factors which determine this over time such as experience, role models, physical health, and lifestyle. As with anything, when you are healthy, your immunity against the negative effects of stress is stronger. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally, you are better prepared to cope with life's challenges. Regardless of the quantity of your resources, making good use of limited resources can allow you to effectively manage your stress. The goal is to maximize your resources by prioritizing the demands and allocating your time and energy efficiently.

Sources of Stress Stressors can be categorized as follows: 1. Significant Life Adjustments Any critical life changes, both pleasant and unpleasant. 2. Daily Routines Daily routines such as fighting the rush hour traffic or meeting the deadline on an important project zap your energy. You become accustomed to your daily activities and easily overlook their cumulative effect on you. 3. Unrealistic Self-Expectations While positive self-expectations motivate you to realize your goals, unrealistic expectations can lead to setting yourself up for failure and a lowering of self-esteem. 4. Interpersonal Relationships Both personal and professional relationships require a significant amount of effort to maintain. Poor communication leads to conflicts that can escalate into increased frustration and open hostility. Common stressors have been identified as: • • • • •

Family problems Mental Illness Elder Care Issues Child Care Issues Financial Issues


• • • • • • • • • • •

Legal Issues Grief & Loss Communication Difficulties Work Addictions Health Concerns Balancing work & family Time management Change management Anger management Other

Com m on Signs and Sym ptom s of Stress When you consider the common signs and symptoms of stress in our lives, it is easy to understand how they may be misinterpreted or even ignored. Many are typically associated with chronic physical and emotional problems resulting in time away from work, concerns, and frustration. Recognizing the impact stress has on our physical and emotional selves allows individuals to take preventative steps. Below is a list of physical, emotional, and behavioral signs and symptoms of stress. As you review this list, be aware of those which are relevant to you. Physical • • • • • • • • • • •

Muscle tension Stiff neck Cold/sweaty hands Facial tics Fatigue Tension headaches Indigestion High blood pressure Ulcers Heart Palpitations Back pain

Emotional • • • • • • • •

Anxiety Fear Irritability Hopelessness Helplessness Impatience Depression Nervousness

Behavioral • • • • • • • • •

Change in appetite Sleep disturbance Forgetfulness Angry outbursts Decline in productivity Social withdrawal Increased use of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, or drugs Indecisiveness Loss of concentration


STRESS TOPIC THREE General Coping Information Regardless of the current level of stress in your life or how effective your coping mechanisms have been in the past, everyone could benefit from improving their stress management practices. Stress may be linked to a particular area in your life, however stress is often a function of several things including life adjustments, daily routines, unrealistic expectations and relationships. The following coping mechanisms may be useful if you determine that stressors in your life need to be tolerated. 1. Managing your stress is enhanced by maintaining a healthy mind and body. This includes: • • • •

a nutritious diet a regular exercise routine an adequate amount of sleep on a consistent basis activities which you consider relaxing. Relaxation is defined by the individual, but

A healthy mind may be enhanced by relying on supportive friends and family and rewarding yourself with "free time" when you accomplish your goals.

in general, these activities should be enjoyable, voluntary, and non-competitive. Common examples include reading, spending time with friends/family, meditations or breathing exercises, and various hobbies.

2. Setting "realistic expectations" for yourself. This is true in both the workplace and personal relationships. As our lives become busier, we have less and less time to devote to ourselves and our well-being. This doesn't make our "well-being" any less important. In order to take care of ourselves, we must set realistic expectations. Setting realistic expectations involves knowing your limits and feeling comfortable saying "no" to demands you cannot meet. You may pride yourself on always being able "to get the job done" however over-extending yourself may eventually lead to exhaustion and/or resentment. To accomplish this you may need to prioritize your responsibilities. Make a list of activities you routinely engage in and separate them into "I should" and "I want to." Perhaps you need to include more activities in the "I want to" category. If you feel little control in shifting these activities, consider renegotiating your responsibilities with a spouse or a supervisor. You may benefit from reviewing our time management or balancing work and family segments. 3. The final strategy for stress management is "maximizing your resources." You have a limited supply of time and energy. These limits may vary depending on your lifestyle and your ability to set limits. As you work to maximize your time, remember that no one is going to give you more. Build in relaxation time to your schedule. Scheduling in freetime first will help you in ….You may want to begin here to ensure that you do not put


yourself on the back burner. In setting short-term and long-term goals, make a list so that your accomplishments are evident. Your goals should be as objective as possible. For example, if you would like to rest more, set a goal for yourself such as "I will go to bed a half hour earlier each night this week." This may prove easier to accomplish and to identify your success than "I'm going to get more sleep." In order for these skills to be effective in managing your stress, they need to be utilized continuously as your level of stress fluctuates. Many of the mechanisms are most effective when put to use early. Be proactive, as opposed to reactive in your steps. Managing Transition Madness

Here it was Monday evening - John had just walked into the house. The kids ran to him with requests to play a game. Dinner preparations hadn't yet begun. All John could think was that another hectic week had started. Cheryl had only been home from work for an hour, but she was ready to call it a day. There were so many chores left to do but she did not know where to start. When would there ever be personal time for her? Do these scenarios sound familiar to you? A full work day's demands leave little energy for meeting the demands of one's family and personal life. Trouble begins when we expect ourselves to keep going without a break. We lose the capacity to shift gears. All day at the office we rush from one priority to the next, only to find ourselves carrying the hectic work-world pace home with us at the end of the day. We forget how to reach a state of calm and often go to bed at night frustrated because we failed to play with our kids or have a meaningful conversation with our spouse. This is "Transition Madness" and it's a tough pattern to break. At the end of a long work day, focus on what you want to do. Identify your true wants by applying the "should or want test". Your "wants" are usually driven by what is valuable to you, while "shoulds" are often a reflection of outside expectations. For example, you feel you should clean up the laundry room but you really want to play with the kids or read a good book. Ask yourself, do you focus more on your "to do" list at home than you do the people important to you, including yourself? The following suggestions may help you regain control of your personal and family life.

On your w ay hom e •

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Begin your transition as soon as you leave work. Imagine putting all your work worries in a box and leaving it at the entrance to the metro or parking lot. You can pick it up the next day. Right now your goal is to unwind. Listen to some relaxing music while you commute, or read something not work-related. If you pick children up at a day care center, take a minute to chat with the staff. This will help you reconnect with your child's day and feel more informed about


his or her day care experiences. Conversation also slows your rushing from one destination to another. Consider changing your routine once in a while. Stop at an interesting store on your way home. Pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers for your own pleasure. Take a walk or sit outside in your yard, weather permitting. Fresh air and the great outdoors work wonders to energize and lift spirits.

Arriving hom e • • •

Change clothes. Let this be a symbol that you are in a "home mode." Give yourself a breather when you first walk in the door. Don't try to accomplish anything for the first ten minutes. Remind yourselves to "change roles" as well as switch gears. Avoid speaking to your spouse or children as if they were your boss or co-workers.

Carving out "Special Tim e" for Loved Ones In the rush of hectic lifestyles, we often don't find the time to give our undivided attention to spouses or other significant people. A helpful strategy that works for many people is to make a "date" with someone special. A date allows you to set aside a specific time and place to reconnect with that person. And, reconnection with the important people in your life reinforces your good feelings about yourself. Also, you will be reminded of the crucial support system you have in those who care about you.

Create Personal Tim e Sometimes you need quiet time by yourself. Let your kids know you need your own "time out." Explain that you will be available later in the evening to help with homework, read a story or play a game. If your children don't adjust to the idea of parent's time out, then use a little reverse psychology and challenge them to create their own time out. When children are very young try taking turns with your spouse so that you both get the personal time you need. Stress at the office compiled with stress at home makes for very unhealthy living. Manage your Transition Madness, and break the patterns that perpetuate stress. Nothing is more important than enjoying your personal and family time to the fullest. Finding Leisure Time In a Hectic Lifestyle Is your life so overcrowded that you find yourself squeezing in time to "relax" with your family? A couple of hours of leisure time over the weekend or fifteen minutes of play time in the evening may not be very relaxing at all. For many people, finding relaxing family time is one more thing to check off the "to do" list.


On average, American workers put in about 140 more hours on the job each year than they did twenty years ago. The growing demands of work and family life have resulted in a major crimp on leisure time. A hectic life-style robs both you and your family of the opportunity to enjoy each other. It often results in general negativity and irritability. These qualities have a destructive effect on families. Stressed out parents tend to overlook the positive behaviors and overreact to the negative behaviors of their children. Even a child's most basic needs ("I'm hungry" or "Can I go outside?") can cause resentment in a parent who is preoccupied with a deadline at work or a household chore. Finding a way to relax and enjoy family and friends on a regular basis is a real challenge for most people. Here are a few suggestions:

K eep Fam ily Tim e Separate Most working parents have learned to juggle lots of balls. Using the waiting time in the grocery store or bank line to write a memo or balance a checkbook is an effective time management strategy. The one big exception to this strategy involves family time. The best way to make your family feel valued is to give them your full attention when you are together. Managing interruptions at home, just as you would at work, is one way to keep your focus when you are with your family. By telling a telephone caller, "I'm busy, I'll get back to you later", you will develop the habit of treating your family time as seriously as you would your work time. Do things which encourage regular family togetherness. Family walks, a certain TV show everyone watches together, family dinners, pizza night, or even Saturday morning cleanup, become family times that everyone can count on.

Don't Forget To Laugh Laughter is a universal language that brings people together and reduces stress and tension. Humor can be a helpful way of coping with the little surprises as well as some of the big ones of busy family life. As the famous Dr. Seuss pointed out, "From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!" How many times as a parent have you been in a situation with your kids where you really have not known whether you were going to laugh or to cry? Sometimes making a decision to laugh about a mishap is the best way to deal with it. You might even want to write a book someday about some of the crazy misadventures of family life.

Play Together Busy adults often take themselves too seriously. Playing hide-and-seek or frolicking with your child is a great way to regain your sense of perspective. Next time you are feeling too tired or too serious to respond when your child is asking to play, try it anyway.


Chances are you will enjoy yourself. After all, physical play with your kids is a wonderful tension release.

Be Selective W ith Your Tim e Unfortunately, many people over-schedule themselves and their families by trying to do too many things. Families need unstructured time. Spending time just taking it easy provides the opportunity to be spontaneous and creative. Try to set a realistic limit on the number of outside commitments for each family member (for example, one extracurricular activity a season for the kids and one evening commitment a week for mom and dad). Also, learn to say "maybe" instead of "yes" when your are considering a request for your help on a project.

Take Care Of Yourself Parents who factor their own needs into their schedules are happier and have more energy to give to their families. Find some free time just for yourself. Try a half-hour exercise routine several times a week, a regular get-together with a friend or a new hobby. Whatever it is, make sure it's something you enjoy.

A Few M ore I deas • • • • • •

Take up a sport with your child. Involve your child in one of your interests. Begin a "family history" activity together. Arrange special "one-on-one" times with your children. Run errands together. You have to make trips to the post office and grocery store anyhow, so why not include your youngsters? Use weekly family meetings to plan out the next week's activities.


STRESS TOPIC FOUR

Tim e M anagem ent Just like stress, "time management" has become a catch phrase of the 90's and the new millenium. As technology increases, there is an increased amount of information which needs to be 'managed.' As responsibilities and family roles expand, this information also needs to be organized in a shorter amount of time. A variety of strategies exist to help individuals manage time more effectively however the real challenge is putting these strategies into use on a recurring basis. Remember, "you will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time, you must make it." Charles Burton A Time Management Plan 1. A successful beginning requires a defined ending. You need to identify the level of organization and m anagem ent appropriate to your lifestyle . Each person assigns different values to work, family, relaxation, etc. This value system should help to guide you in what areas of your life require more effective time management skills. It is likely that as one area of your life becomes more manageable, others will follow. 2. Once you have determined the specific area you would like to improve with management skills, identify the m ajor obstacles you have encountered in the past related to this area. Some of the more common "time wasters" include: • • • • • • • • •

Clutter Procrastination Interruptions (personal and technological i.e. email, phones, pagers, fax) Perfectionism Over scheduling Equipment problems Inability to delegate Inadequate information Changing priorities

Strategize to eliminate or at least minimize these time wasters. For example, if interruptions are of primary concern, try the following: • •

Make your time constraints known at the beginning of the interruption. "I only have a minute to talk" and stick to this. Schedule meetings outside of your office. This will allow you the freedom to leave once the meeting has adjourned as well as prevent additional interruptions through ringing phones and people dropping by. There are also likely to be more


• •

distractions in your personal space. For example, you may find it more difficult to focus on your meeting if a pile of work on your desk serves as a constant visual reminder of what needs to be done. Learn to say NO graciously or with humor. You may also avoid interruptions by setting a limit for yourself but agreeing to address an issue at a specified time in the future. Schedule time in your planner to return calls and make this time clear so that no one will expect an immediate response. Encourage associates to only use pagers in the event of an emergency. Many pagers are only equipped with a numeric display leaving you to be concerned about the content or issue waiting on the other end of the phone. Accept interruptions as a normal part of your job. Only you can distinguish between urgent and non-urgent matters. Accept the uncontrollable and control the controllable to avoid high levels of frustration.

3. Next , prioritize those tasks which fall into your specific area requiring time management. Author Stephen Covey recommends the following format to prioritize your tasks. All tasks should be evaluated according to urgency and importance. Urgent and Important: crises, some fire-fighting, deadline-driven projects, pressing problems Not Urgent and Important: preparation and prevention, relationship building, values clarification, your own real needs Urgent and Not Important: interruptions, many meetings, some mail, many phone calls, another person's crisis Not Urgent and Not Important: trivia, busy work, much mail, time wasters, "escape" activities, some phone calls 4. Do it! This is not always as easy as we would like. If you are having trouble taking this first action step, ask yourself why. Try to understand why you are reluctant to move forward. Acknowledge any negative feelings you have about the task. Is this task likely to go away if enough time passes or will it become harder to accomplish. Are you rewarded in any way for not completing the task? You increase the likelihood of accomplishing your task when you impose deadlines on yourself. Dividing your task into manageable pieces and then scheduling deadlines for each of these may be a helpful motivating tool. Once you have your deadlines, write them in your calendar as a helpful reminder. Deadlines are also useful in verifying that we have made progress towards our goal. It is important to reward yourself for a job well done and this strategy makes it possible.


Remember, "the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Stephen Covey. Maintain your focus. If you find your mind beginning to wander, perhaps you need a short break. If you are thinking about other projects, it may be helpful to prioritize according to urgency and importance. Although you are the expert, only those activities which are both urgent and important should take you off task. 5. Follow -up/ Evaluate the plan . Always evaluate your success at maintaining focus and completing a task. Evaluation needs to be on going. Do not wait until the end to ask yourself "Could I do this better or more efficiently?" Although everyone likes to succeed, an inability to complete a task or to only partially complete a task will actually be more instructive. If you evaluate your action plan and find that you answer YES to "Could I do this better or more efficiently?" begin to analyze the process. Did you have all of the available resources you needed? Where you able to delegate effectively? Did you correctly identify the appropriate level of organization and management for your lifestyle? Were there time wasters that you had not anticipated? Remember that effective time management is a work in progress. It will need to be practiced continuously in order to become an art form. Do not be discouraged as many people spend a life time trying to master this skill.


STRESS TOPIC FIVE Tips For Coping With Stress Mass tragedies, including school shootings, workplace violence, and community violence affect different people in different ways. People exposed to these situations can experience physical reactions, such as cuts and bruises, as well as emotional reactions, such as frightening thoughts and painful feelings. Common responses can include: • • • • • • • •

Feeling a sense of loss, sadness, frustration, helplessness, or emotional numbness Experiencing troubling memories from that day Having nightmares or difficulty falling or staying asleep Avoiding things that remind you of the event Having no desire for food or a loss of appetite Having difficulty concentrating Feeling nervous or on edge Feeling irritable or crying easily

If you or someone you know experiences any of these feelings after a traumatic event, get support from your family, friends, and co-workers. Talk with others about your feelings and take care of yourself by keeping your normal routine. Avoid using alcohol and drugs. Staying active, helping other people, or volunteering in your community can also help you feel better. Keep in mind that returning to the way you felt before the event may take some time. Helping and healing can begin at the scene of the event, but may need to continue over a period of time. If your distress continues or you have trouble managing your feelings, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor. Tips for Parents It's natural for children to worry. But talking with children about these tragedies, and what they watch or hear about them, can help put frightening information into a more balanced context. The CDC offers parents these suggestions to help children through their questions: 1. Reach out and talk. Create opportunities to have your children talk, but do not force them. Try asking questions like, what do you think about these events, or how do you think these things happen? After a traumatic event, it is important for children to feel like they can share their feelings and to know that their fears and anxieties are understandable. 2. Express yourself. Your children may be feeling different emotions at different times. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Confusion. These feelings are normal reactions to


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4.

5.

6. 7.

this tragedy. It is alright to encourage your children to appropriately express how he or she feels and to share your feelings with them. Watch and listen. Be alert for any change in behavior. Are children sleeping more, or less? Are they withdrawing from friends or family? Are they behaving in any way out of the ordinary? This may show that they are having trouble coming to terms with this event. Recognizing even small changes in behavior can give you an early warning that something is troubling them. Reassure. Traumatic events can challenge a child’s sense of physical and emotional safety and security. Take opportunities to reassure your child about his or her safety and well-being and discuss ways that you, the school, and the community are taking steps to keep them safe. Share information with other parents. Get to know your children's friends and their parents. Make an on-going effort to check in and talk to other parents about any issues or stress. You don't have to deal with problems alone-the most effective solutions usually come from parents, schools, and health professionals working together to provide support for the health and well-being of your children. Stay Connected. After a tragedy it is easy to pull away from family and others. Make sure that you are setting aside times to spend time with family. Consider planning fun activities with your child to facilitate staying connected. Keep it going. Ask your children how they feel about the event in a week, then in a month and so on. Each child has his or her own way of coping under stressful situations. The best thing you can as a parent is to listen to each child and allow them to express their concerns and fears.

Tips for Kids and Teens If you or someone you know needs immediate help please contact the one of the following crisis hotlines: •

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-888-628-9454 for

Youth Mental Health Line: 1-888-568-1112 Child-Help USA: 1-800-422-4453 (24 hour toll free) Coping With Stress

Spanish-speaking callers)

After a traumatic or violent event it is normal to feel anxious about your safety and security. Even if you were not directly involved, you may worry about whether this type of event may someday affect you. How can you deal with these fears? Start by looking at the tips below for some ideas. •

Talk to an adult who you can trust. This might be your parent, another relative, a friend, neighbor, teacher, coach, school nurse, counselor, family doctor, or member of your church or temple. If you've seen or experienced violence of any kind, not talking about it can make feelings build up inside and


cause problems. If you are not sure where to turn, call your local crisis intervention center or a national hotline. Stay active. Go for a walk, volunteer with a community group, play sports, write a play or poem, play a musical instrument, or join an after-school program. Trying any of these can be a positive way to handle your emotions. Be a leader in making your school or community safer. Join an existing group that is promoting non-violence in your school or community, or launch your own effort. Stay in touch with family. If possible, stay in touch with trusted family, friends, and neighbors to talk things out and help deal with any stress or worry. Take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating, and worrying too much can make you sick. As much as possible, try to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and keep a normal routine. It may be hard to do, but it can keep you healthy and better able to handle a tough time.

Tips for People Who Work With Kids and Teens Kids and teens that experience a traumatic event, or see it on television, may react with shock, sadness, anger, fear, and confusion. They may be reluctant to be alone or fearful of leaving secure areas such as the house or classroom. School personnel can help their students restore their sense of safety by talking with them about their fears. Other tips for school personnel include: 1. Reach out and talk. Create opportunities to have children talk, but do not force them. Try asking questions like, what do you think about these events, or how do you think these things happen? After a traumatic event, it is important for children to feel like they can share their feelings and to know that their fears and anxieties are understandable. 2. Watch and listen. Be alert for any change in behavior. Are students talking more, less? Withdrawing from friends? Acting out? Are they behaving in any way out of the ordinary? This may show that they are having trouble coming to terms with this event. Recognizing even small changes in behavior can give you an early warning that something is troubling them. 3. Maintain normal routines. Keep a regular classroom and school schedule. This can be reassuring and promote a sense of stability and safety. Encourage students to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don't push them if they seem overwhelmed. 4. Express yourself. Your students may be feeling different emotions at different times. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Confusion. These feelings are normal reactions to a tragedy. Do not be afraid to allow your student to appropriately express how they feel and share your feelings with them.


STRESS TOPIC SIX The Relationship Between Bible Verses and Stress Relief Agnes Farside, Yahoo! Contributor Network At some time in our lives, we all feel stress about one thing or another, and we all have different ways of dealing with this stress. For some a leisurely stroll in a quiet park may do the trick, while others might chose to listen to relaxing music, and yet for someone else, it might be reading a good book that takes our minds off our troubles. Why not let that book be the Bible. The Bible has many verses that can be related to stress relief, it is just up to us to find them. Bible Verses and How They Relate to Stress Relief

The Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (Genesis 2:8) Gardening is a satisfying way to relieve stress. Create your own Eden by digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching your plants grow from the effort you put forth. Gardening can help you learn patience and help you connect to God in a special way.

[Jesus] said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going and they did not even have time to eat.(Mark 6:31) Have you ever found yourself not having time to eat or gobbling down fast food in order to make an appointment? Try getting away for a day, weekend, or longer. Check out a spiritual retreat where you can relax and reflect on your busy life.

The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. (Isaiah 25:8) Tears are not only a way of ridding your body of toxins, but they are a form of emotional release. Holding emotion in can only make you more stressful, so give into your emotions, and let the tears flow.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.(1 Timothy 6:6) Deciding when enough is enough can be hard. Do I really need another pair of shoes, or a new dress? Find contentment in what you already have and do not let yourself be pressured into buying items you really do not need. Adjust your busy schedule to a simpler timeframe to allow for fun with family and friends.

And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:21) Everyone thrives when loved. Hug therapy is an excellent stress


reliever, so hug your spouse, children, parents, and yes, your friends and neighbors.

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.(Proverbs

12:25) Worries can cause great stress in our lives and it is hard not to worry, but thinking of lighter things will help. Try not to worry about what might happen or what tomorrow may bring. Live for today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27) Sometimes,

stress is caused from fear, whether real or imaginary. If we let it, fear can take over our lives, rendering us helpless. Confront your fears and deal with them through the development of an inner peace.

"And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."(Matthew 10:42)

Relieve stress by performing small acts of kindness, such as opening a door for someone, offering words of kindness, sending a "Thinking of you" card, or just listening to a friend over a cup of tea.

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20-21) Sometimes when

we set goals for ourselves, the steps we have to take in obtaining that goal overwhelms us. Keep in mind that each step taken to achieve your goal leads to the next one, and eventually there will be more steps behind you than ahead. Have patience and faith in your abilities and take one-step at a time.

Beloved, I hope you are prospering in every respect and are in good health, just as your soul is prospering.(3 John 2) All experts agree that a body massage is great for

relieving stress, among other things, but if you cannot get motivated or are too busy to fit a professional massage into your schedule, try a self-massage at home. Use electric or hand massages, give yourself a foot rub, or use a bath brush in the shower to get the blood circulating within your body. The above verses are just a few from the Bible that a person can relate to stress relief. To me, the biggest help of all for stress relief is the whole Bible.


Conflict in Congregations The Conflict in Congregations Public Report is intended to help lay and clergy leaders understand more fully the resources that address congregational conflict, as well as the nature of congregational conflict. This resource inquiry involved interviews with conflict consultants and leaders from congregations who have experienced conflict. Conflict in Congregations: A Special Report by the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. Click the following link to download: http://centerforcongregations.org/files/folders/learning/entry657.aspx

Stress Module  

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