Stress Management Tools, Techniques, and Strategies

Stress Management Tools, Techniques, and Strategies Presented by: LifeMatters 1-800-634-6433 ® Stress Management Overview This pr...
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Stress Management Tools, Techniques, and Strategies

Presented by: LifeMatters 1-800-634-6433 ®

Stress Management Overview This program will provide you with a general understanding of stress and educate you on ways to manage the stress that you encounter every day. We will be covering the following points in this program:

• The high cost of stress • Symptoms of stress • How to keep stress healthy • Stress Diary • Keeping it Positive • Planning for a stress-less life • Quick fixes for relief • Making a plan for stress relief • Relaxation exercises

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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The High Cost of Stress Stress is very expensive. Let's look at the statistics: • According to Prevention Magazine's 1996 annual Prevention Index survey, 73 percent of adults say they feel great stress on a weekly basis. • The American Institute of Stress estimates that 90 percent of all visits to doctors are for stress-related disorders. • Every week, 95 million Americans suffer some kind of stressrelated symptom for which they take medication. • American businesses lose an estimated $200-$300 billion dollars per year to stress-related productivity loss and other cost. This amount is higher than the net profit from ALL Fortune 500 companies in one year. • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of health care is spent on stress-related disorders.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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What is Stress? Eustress – is the good kind of stress that can come from things such as a job promotion, the purchase of a new home, marriage or birth, or the accomplishment of a goal.

Distress – is the bad kind of stress that can be caused by work demands, the death of a loved one, car problems, financial difficulties, etc.

Sources of Stress: Survival Stress occurs in situations where your survival or health is threatened, where you are put under pressure, or where you experience a challenging event. Adrenaline is released in these situations and your body is ready for “fight or flight.” Internally-Generated Stress can come from anxiousness about an event beyond your control, a hurried approach toward life, or relationship problems. Environmental or Job Stress can come from noise, crowding, pollution, or other distractions in your living or working environment. Fatigue and Overwork causes stress to build up over a long period of time. This occurs most often when you are trying to do too much in too little time.

My stressor list includes: ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Recognizing Stress Symptoms When stress levels get too high, we respond in many different ways. Some symptoms that have been found to be linked directly to the stress of daily life are listed below. Ask yourself: - How many of these symptoms do I have? - How often do I have them? In the space beside each symptom, write if you experience it: F= Frequently

O= Occasionally

R= Rarely

Physical _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Tight neck and shoulders Chest pain High blood pressure Fatigue Eye strain Gastrointestinal upset Teeth grinding Increased urination Frequent colds/flu

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Pounding heart Headaches Stomach upset Cold, sweaty palms Excessive perspiration Nervous tics Skin rashes Impotence Weight loss/gain

_____ _____ _____ _____

Anger Apathy/hopelessness Worry Dislike of self

_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Forgetfulness Reckless driving Drug use Crying Poor concentration Lack of enthusiasm.

Emotional _____ _____ _____ _____

Depression Irritability Impatience Suspiciousness/paranoia

Behavioral _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Overeating Increased smoking/drinking Change in sleep habits Fighting/arguing Increased errors on job Withdrawal from friends/activities

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Group Juggle Activity

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Keeping Stress Healthy It is important to maintain an appropriate stress level. • If you are not under enough stress you will be bored and unmotivated. • If you are under too much stress, your performance will deteriorate. Suffering from too much stress for long periods can lead to severe stress symptoms such as problems with performance at work, feeling of loss of control, social withdrawal, and physical illness. One way to keep your health at an appropriate level is to keep a Stress Diary. A stress diary will give you two abilities: 1. The ability to understand the level of stress that makes you happy, and the level of stress at which you work most effectively. You may find that your performance is good even when you feel upset by stress. 2. The ability to identify the main sources of unpleasant stress in your life. You should understand what circumstances make these stresses particularly unpleasant, and should begin to recognize if your strategies for handling them are effective. In addition: • Writing about a problem is a good way to get it off your chest. • When writing about the event, you may discover what you can change or how to ease your stress level in the future.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Keep It Positive Adjust your attitude. Avoid dwelling on the negative, which will only increase your tendency to get “worked up” over a situation. Having a positive attitude will help you maintain a sense of perspective and look for the best in situations. Be kind to yourself. Erase the negative messages you play inside your head. Replace them with positive messages that recognize your strengths, capabilities, and unique qualities. Think healthy. How we treat our bodies can increase or decrease our stress levels. Make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining a schedule of regular exercise, and getting an adequate amount of sleep. Seek out other people. Seek support from friends, family, and social activities. Interacting with others will help you keep your life in perspective. Get involved in life. If you stopped doing some of your favorite things because you have been feeling overwhelmed, try getting back into the swing of things. Go to a movie or a ball game, volunteer, spend time with friends, or get re-involved in a favorite hobby. Accept yourself. Though it can be difficult to let go of the expectations of others, it is important to accept yourself as you are, not as others want you to be. If you focus your energies on pleasing others, you will never feel smart, competent, successful, or attractive enough to succeed.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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ABC’s of Preparing for a Stress-Less Life Assess the value of your time. Plan to increase your productivity and personal effectiveness by evaluating how you are using your time. Focus on your priorities so that you know which tasks need to be done, which can be delegated, and which can be dropped. This will help you put things in perspective when you feel “drowned.” Aim for reasonable goals. Avoid adding responsibilities or setting difficult goals for yourself. Not being able to meet your high expectations could lead to feelings of failure or unhappiness. Be realistic. We each have a unique balance of intelligence, strengths, limitations, emotional patterns, and personal characteristics. Knowing your strengths and limitations is an important part of keeping stress under control. Break down large tasks. Breaking large tasks into smaller pieces, setting priorities, and letting go of less important tasks will help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed. Be aware of what you can control. There are things in life that we can control and things that we can’t. Many people get stressed over things that they cannot control. Balance your stress and uncertainty by being aware of the situations in you life that you can control and working to make these areas more manageable for you. Learn to welcome change. Changing life circumstances and events are often very stressful. Those who resist change will be crushed by it. Success depends on adapting to, anticipating, and embracing change. Find a calming activity. Taking long walks, reading, putting together puzzles, taking up a craft — these and other activities will give your brain a calming change of pace.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Quick Fixes When you’re feeling stressed, as we all do at times, be extra kind to yourself. The following suggestions can help you lose the tension:

• Talk things out with a trusted friend • Do something nice for another person • Establish a safe, serene place of your own • When appropriate, relax your standards — be flexible • Say "no" • Listen to music • Take a warm bath • Use deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to unwind • Rent your favorite movie • Go outside • Get enough sleep • Exercise — go for a bike ride, take a walk, or turn on some fast music and dance • Allow yourself some private, quiet time

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Making an Action Plan List three things that you could start doing today to relieve stress: 1. _______________________________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________________________

For each strategy that you have listed, create a new statement that reads: "I don’t (or haven’t done this) because..." 1. _______________________________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________________________

What would have to happen for you to begin to use the strategies that you’ve listed? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________

1. Break into small groups and discuss at least one of the three strategies you’ve listed. If you aren’t certain how to get started on a strategy, ask the other members of your group to provide suggestions.

2. Choose an accountability partner to help you reach your goal(s).

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Balloon Ride Activity This relaxation technique uses progressive muscle relaxation, breathing, and imagery. Start with focusing on your breathing; then, you will picture some things in your mind that will be pleasant and familiar. Play some soft music in background, with the lights dimmed or off. Get comfortable in your chair and uncross your legs. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Repeat this 3-4 times. Continue to focus on slowly breathing in and out. Allow your arms to feel heavy at your side. Notice the tension leaving your body. Let your head, neck, and shoulders relax, all the way down your arms; feel the tension leaving your body. Let your stomach and back relax. Let your legs relax, feeling the tension rolling down your legs and out your feet until it spills out onto the floor away from you. Continue to relax and focus on your breathing. Picture yourself in a beautiful field. Feel the warm sun on your face and the gentle breezes against your skin. Smell the fresh grass and picture the beautiful flowers tossing softly in the breeze. Focus on slowing your breathing. Imagine that there is a hot air balloon in the middle of the field. See yourself climbing into it. Feel the hot air balloon gradually lifting up, rising above the field. Feel the sun warming you and see the blue sky and fluffy white clouds above you. Let the balloon take you to a favorite place where you feel happy and safe. Maybe your hot air balloon will take you to a place overlooking the ocean. You will hear the sound of waves rolling in on the shore and gentle sounds of gulls overhead. Maybe you are in a quiet, peaceful woods overlooking a babbling brook. Perhaps you use your hot air balloon to take you to a cozy room in your house where you can sit by a fire or take a nap. Let the balloon take you wherever you want to be. Be still for a couple of minutes to give yourself time to enjoy this peaceful place. Continue to focus on your breathing and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of this place.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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Balloon Ride Activity, continued Notice again the peaceful relaxation you feel being in this wonderful place. Absorb the sites, sounds, and smells and take them with you as you slowly return to your hot air balloon. Picture yourself getting into the balloon and slowly letting it lift you up as you leave your favorite place. See the blue sky and clouds overhead and feel the warm sun on your face. See the field below you and the flowers gently blowing in the grassy field. Notice how peaceful you are and notice the breeze gently caressing your face as you slowly lower your balloon back to the field where you started. Let the balloon land softly in the field. Remember the sights, sounds, and smells of your favorite place and bring this feeling of peace back to the room. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and return to the room.

Relaxation like this slows down your breathing and gets you to take in more oxygen. It slows your pulse and heart rate to a more relaxed level. This is very beneficial and is just as beneficial as if you had actually been away.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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LifeMatters® Resources

1-800-634-6433 The LifeMatters central intake line, available to employees live 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Managers and supervisors can call this number to speak with a LifeMatters Consultant. This number is toll-free in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Educational materials, an Internet version of the Self Assessment Program, and links to many other Internet resources are available through the LifeMatters site on the World Wide Web.

©2004: Empathia, Inc.

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