“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
– Hans Selye
As a sneak peak of our Stress Workbook to be released in the Summer of 2004, we’ve filled the May issue of the Lieberman Learning Letter with powerful and practical stress fighting techniques. Our upcoming workbook, The Complete Stress Workbook, by Simma Lieberman and Kate Berardo, is a progressive workbook divided into four main sections:
What Stress Really Is and How it Affects You
Your Stress: Determining Your Stressors and Your Stress Gap
Finding the Stress Fighting Technique that Works for You
Manage Stress for Life: The Mental Makeover
In this issue, we’ve pulled two sections from the first and third section to give you a head start on understanding stress, it’s impact on you, and how to make positive and permanent life changes to reduce stress.
From The Complete Stress Workbook: Section One: Defining Stress
Modern Day Stressors: What Stress Looks Like in the 21st Century
We often think of stress just as the immediate conditions in our lives that impact us, without paying proper attention to environmental stressors than can create low-grade, constant stress. Stress from the environment is fueled through watching the news, talking with people, and otherwise picking up and sensing it in the environment.
A Different Kind of Stress that Affects Us
Common Stressors in the 21st Century include:
Working so many hours
More work and less people time
Fear of job loss
Terrorism and it’s threat
Rushing all the time
Periods of economic downturn
Transitioning from high school to college
Leaving college for the outside world
Being around people who are different than you
Uncertainty about the future
Some people experience physical and emotional signs of stress as a result of these types of environmental stressors, even if their personal life situation has relatively low levels of stress.
We can’t always control our environment, but we can control our reaction to it. If environmental stressors influence you (they do most of us) practice the Control, Change, or Let Go process. Ask yourself these questions: Can I control it? Can I change it? If not, how can I let it go? … (continued in the Complete Stress Workbook)
The Complete Stress Workbook: Section Three: Manage Stress
Check Your Vital Stress Stats
Keep a check on your stress levels but keeping a stress record. Rate your stress levels on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not stressed at all, 10 being stressed to the point of being dysfunctional or severely limited in terms of your activities). Jot down in a bulleted form your emotions, behaviors, etc., and your stress rank.
My Vital Stress Stats
How I Feel:
What’s Going On:
This doesn’t need to be a time intensive activity. Spend literally one minute each day writing on a small notepad you keep next to your bed, at your desk, etc. After a few weeks, look back and try to identify patterns in your stress (computer crashes, certain corporate events, interactions with certain individuals). Look for ways to eliminate stress by removing these stressors, and if that’s not possible, look for opportunities to build in stress-releasers (exercise, baths, sleep-ins, etc.)
The point is to focus on your emotions and yourself for a few minutes each day. This type of self-reflective tool is a powerful way to fight off stress by helping you to feel grounded and to restore calm in your daily life.
Once you’ve done this for a month or so, it can become a quick mental exercise, and you can forego the pen and paper altogether. Like a vital stats check on your mental health, you can monitor your stress levels automatically and determine when you need a dose of a stress-relieving activity.