Tips & Tools for Coping with Stress
Coping with Stress
People vary in their susceptibility and ability to deal with stress. Your physical condition, how well you take care of yourself, and your resources for coping with stress determine how resiliant you are. (Dr. Lyle Miller & Dr. Alma Smith 1993)
Stress-resistant people seem to have a cluster of characteristics (Kobasa 1979)
1. commitment -- deep involvement in their jobs and other life activities,
2. control -- they believe they can influence important events in their lives and outcomes they experience,
3. challenge -- they perceive change as an opportunity to improve rather than a threat to their security).
Coping Options (Taylor & McGee 1989,1990)
1. Change Environments (flight) -- move to another location, change jobs, separate from a spouse, etc.
2. Change the Environment (fight) -- work to improve the situation causing the stress,
3. Change Yourself -- changing our attitudes, thoughts and feelings. McKinnon et. ali. (1989) "The way in which a stressor is interpreted, more than the stressor's properties, predicts the intensity, nature, and duration of physiological and psychological response."
A primary way to manage stress is to modify it with something that enhances our feeling of control.
1. Knowing where your stress is coming from is a good first step toward dealing with it.
2. Adopt the attitude "to do what we can, seek help when appropriate, and not sweat the small stuff."
3. Create buffers against stress:
o Live a balanced lifestyle
o Feel good about yourself
o Be more aware of your personal strengths
4. Get rid of unnecessary worries - (A good deal of what you experience as stress may have less to do with the actual events of your life than with worries that other people pass on to you or that you conjure up in your own imagination.)
Effective Methods of Handling Stress
1. Relax your neck & shoulders
2. Take a stretch
3. Get a massage
1. Control your thoughts, use positive self-talk, picture successful outcomes
3. Handle one day at a time
1. Count to 10
3. Congratulate yourself (affirmations)
4. Ignore the problem
5. Keep an open mind to new ways
3. Remember your purpose
Use Mind and Body Together
1. Smile, laugh, have a sense of humor
2. Optimize your environment - periodic changes (go for a walk, change rooms, etc.), reduce noise and clutter, simplify
3. Take a break
4. Get hug therapy
5. Find a pet
6. Try progressive relaxation
7. Try journaling - enhances your intuitive, creative thinking. Precede your journaling with 15-20 minutes of quiet time. Write what comes, don't edit, criticize or analyze (Career Track, Stress Reduction Workshop for Women Workbook)
Establish a Social Support Network for Yourself
• A social support network can be very helpful in difficult times, but many people aren't sure whom to count on for support or how to ask for it. In different situations you may need different people for support.
o Can you get support from family, friends, co-workers, etc?
o Who is in your support network?
o Do you need to add someone to your network?
Develop New Skills
1. Learn something
2. Practice a hobby
Specific Strategies we feel are especially helpful for women to take control of stress in their life:
1. Assertiveness training
2. Thought Control (Positive Self-Talk)
3. Enhance your self-esteem
4. Establishing a social support network
5. Work Stress Management
Benefits of Relaxation
o recharges batteries
o is physiologically opposite of fight/flight
o helps keep things in perspective
o facilitates emotional and physical healing
o gives a sense of personal control
o helps not to take stress out on other people
o enhances creativity and concentration
o gives resiliency to bounce back from stress (Career Track, Stress Reduction)
*Source for this material except where otherwise noted is Velma Walker and Lynn Brokaw, "Chapter 8 Managing Stress" in Becoming Aware: A Look at Human Relations and Personal Adjustment. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Sixth Edition.
**Walker and Brokaw, "Chapter 8" in Becoming Aware.
***Primary source for Managing Stress is Kevin W. King, Counseling Psychologist, "Chapter 25 Managing Stress" in John W. Gardner and A. Jerome Jexler, Your College Experience Expanded Reader Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1997. Other sources are noted. This information was modified and augmented by Karen Wilson and Betty Michaels for Kaleidoscope Women's Health Conference, 10/98.