Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

Conflict Resolution

May 16, 2017

Everyone faces conflict in varying degrees at some point in life. Because conflict happens in any relationship, including those at work and at home, no one is immune to its complexities. How we choose to deal with conflict is unique, as everyone brings his or her own personality and experiences to these difficulties.

CONFLICT DEFINED

A conflict is a difference of opinions, priorities, or perspectives, whether friendly or hostile. Because people react differently to conflict, the situation may be difficult to assess. Those who view conflict as a threat usually experience anxiety and stress, and those who see it as an opportunity for growth can overcome it and even benefit from conflict.

CONFLICT IN THE WORKPLACE

One environment where conflict is common is in the workplace. We spend the bulk of our time there and often can’t choose our co-workers. Since conflict is inevitable, there are real benefits to improving your resolution skills. Some of the paybacks include improved relationships, a smoother working environment, fewer delays in production, increased communication, and improved health as tension symptoms decrease. The following strategies will help you in your workplace conflict resolution:

  • Tackle potential conflict – If you sense tension in the workplace, take a proactive stance. Calmly confront the other individual with honesty. This could prevent a future blowup from occurring.
  • Choose your battles – Not every little item is worth the conflict. Knowing when to let things slide and when to take action about conflict makes for a more success work environment.
  • See growth in conflict – Being able to resolve conflict in relationships is a sign of maturity. Try viewing conflict, at work or home, as an opportunity for growth instead of something to be avoided.

TAKE ACTION THROUGH LISTENING

The following tips demonstrate how to resolve conflict with listening skills:

  • Listen actively – Active listening aims to understand the thoughts, feelings, and emotions behind what the other person is saying.
  • Acknowledge the message – You don’t have to agree with the other person to respect and validate their opinion. Recognize their value as a fellow human being and affirm the importance of their beliefs.
  • Know your message – Before you respond, consider your own emotions and thoughts about the situation in conflict.
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All About Feelings

March 24, 2017

While much has been said about the differences between men and women with respect to awareness of feelings, the truth is, it’s easy for everyone to lose touch with their feelings once in a while. Yet, feelings provide powerful clues as to what we’re thinking and how we’re reacting physically.

EXPERIENCING FEELINGS

There are three main ways we encounter an emotion. First, we experience the feeling. Second, our body reacts to it. Last, we express the feeling through our behavior. Therefore, if you were angry, you’d interpret the emotion as anger. Perhaps, your body would tense up and your heart would begin to pace, and then you might lose your temper and begin to shout.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELINGS

Exploring your feelings can benefit both your body and behavior. For example, if you find that you often feel afraid you may also discover that you regularly experience association anxiety and physical symptoms of stress. Perhaps your heart is continually racing and your sleep is affected, these responses can have a long-term impact on your health. If you start to examine the root of your fear, you might find that your thoughts aren’t factual. Recognizing this faulty or irrational thought pattern is the first step in modifying it and ultimately feeling less anxious and afraid.

TIPS FOR MANAGING EMOTIONAL REACTIONS

Controlling your reactions to emotion takes time and practice. The following ideas will help you learn how to regulate your reactivity.

Track your feelings – Keep a log of your feelings throughout the day. This experience will give you greater insight into how you see the world and react to it.

Scale emotions – Emotions exist on a broad spectrum, so rating them on a scale of one to ten might help you look for patterns and situations that trigger certain emotions.

Reduce stress – When you experience negative emotions, tracking the methods you use to lower your stress provides invaluable insight and guidance on when and where to use these methods to reduce stress.

Stress Stoppers: Stress Stretch

February 14, 2017

When you are under stress, tension accumulates in your neck and jaw. Take a minute to gently and slowly move your head from front to back, side to side, and in a full circle. For your jaw, stretch your mouth open, and slowly move your lower jaw from side to side and front to back. (NOTE: If you notice any pain or if you have had any injuries to your back, neck or jaw, check with your doctor first.)

Set a Goal (and Achieve It!)

Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached add to your stress level. Try setting one goal for yourself this week. Pick one small goal and write it down. Can you count it or check it off a list? Is it realistic? If not, make it smaller. Decide how to reward yourself when you reach your goal. Set a specific, realistic date to finish or achieve your goal.

Comedy Break: Laugh at Stress

Set aside some time for laughter, your body’s natural stress release mechanism. Rent your favorite comedy video. Tape a TV show that you know makes you laugh and keep it on hand for stress emergencies. Go to the library and borrow a book by an author who can make you laugh. Read the daily comics in the newspaper. Or, phone the funniest person you know!

Walking Breaks

Walk away from stress. Instead of sitting down for another cup of stress-inducing caffeine on your coffee break, lunch hour or when you’re at home … try going for a stress-relieving and energizing walk. If you don’t like walking by yourself, try forming a walking club with two or three of your friends or coworkers.

Learning to Relax

December 8, 2016

Stress! It’s everywhere and affects everyone. Without proper self-care, stress can feel like it might swallow us alive. Why? Any time a change or interruption occurs in your life, your body, emotions, and mind react. This is known as the stress response.

The Stress/Relaxation Relationship

Having a constant or hyper-normal stress response to life wears down the body. Relaxation techniques are specific practices used to produce the body’s natural relaxation response. The advantage of practicing relaxation include better concentration, reduced anger, lower heart and breathing rates, fewer stress hormones, and less muscle tension, pain and fatigue.

Types of Relaxation Techniques

Autogenic relaxation – Being aware of your body can help decrease stress. First, focus on peaceful images or words. Next, tune in to your breathing, heart rate, and body’s sensations.

Progressive muscle relaxation – This technique slowly tenses and relaxes individual muscles. Start with your feet and work up to your head. This practice teaches awareness of muscle tension when you are stressed.

Tips for Relaxation

Pay attention – We can often ignore what our body is trying to tell us. Pay attention to where you feel stress and tension in your body.

Laugh – Watching your favorite funny movie or catching up with a witty friend can be just what the doctor ordered. Laughter lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and releases endorphins to uplift your mood.

Be present – Practice being present in your relationships at work and by yourself. Push aside thoughts about your to-do list, future events, and things in the past. Try keeping your thoughts on the here-and-now.

Relaxation techniques may not completely eradicate the stress in your life, but they can lighten your stress load. So, why not try it? There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose, except maybe some extra stress.

Codependence

November 15, 2016

When a person is codependent, they are unable to define and meet their own needs in a relationship. This individual “loses” their sense of self because they are completely absorbed in the needs of the other person. This intense focus on the other person can jeopardize your health, safety, and success in life.

CHARACTERISTICS OF CODEPENDENT PEOPLE

There are many emotional characteristics of codependent people. They often experience low self-esteem and constantly compare themselves to others. They might have an overblown sense of responsibility for other people and fear abandonment. Often a person who is codependent finds it difficult to set and maintain boundaries in a relationship, and they also have a difficult time expressing their own personal goals or values as an individual.

HELP FOR THE CODEPENDENT PERSON

The following tips can help you or someone you know move from codependence to healthier relationships.

  • Identity – Embrace your own needs and emotions. Saying “no” to a loved one doesn’t mean you don’t care for them, and it’s healthy to set these boundaries. Tough love is sometimes the most loving thing you can do.
  • Self-reliant – What are some ways you could be more independent? When can you take responsibility for your own emotions and actions? Encourage others around you to do the same.
  • Stop “fixing” – It is not your responsibility to solve all your loved one’s problems. You can still support and love them without trying to “fix” their lives. Give them space to take personal responsibility for their actions and future.
  • Relax – Relieve stress, tension, and anxiety by practicing relaxation techniques. Yoga, enjoyable music, mindfulness, and activities you love are all things you can do to help dial down worry and guilt.

If you or your loved one is struggling with codependency, be courageous and seek help. A licensed counselor or therapist can help you explore how you began to act this way. Together, you can establish a plan to change your life’s direction and move from a codependent relationship to a mutually satisfying one.

Resiliency in the Workplace

October 14, 2016

Whether you have a fast-paced job or not, stress exists in every workplace. Having a “bounce back,” or resilient, perspective is a key element to coping with stress. Workplace resilience helps you handle coworkers, interoffice events, and outside situations that impact your job.

THREATS TO OUR WORKPLACE WELL BEING

  • Work culture – Anything that happens outside the organizational culture of your job can increase stress levels. This includes the structures, policies, mergers, expansions, layoffs, etc.
  • Interactions within your job – Events such as bullying, intimidation, and being overworked can make your job difficult. Other stressful situations might include accidents, grieving a coworker’s death, and the fear of supervisors.
  • Personal lives – Stress and anxiety from other parts of our lives can also threaten our workplace well being. Our behavior toward others can reflect this stress.

TIPS FOR BUILDING RESILIENCE

  • Interpersonal intelligence – The ability to empathize with your coworkers and understand their point of view is a key component to managing relationships. When we are socially aware in the workplace, it helps us monitor our own reactions to problems. Then we can seek resolution to a workplace conflict or interpersonal confusion.
  • Remaining active – A resilient person does not shut down when adversity comes their way. They speak up for themselves and their goals in an assertive way. Active in teamwork, this individual also takes a self-initiated approach toward problem solving.
  • Proactive – Resilient people can identify potential problems and take actions to prevent them. These individuals won’t wait until a disaster occurs before they clean up a mess and work toward resolution.
  • Self-care – A work environment that values good self-care will be more productive in the long run. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy and a regular exercise routine are keys to resilience. In addition, spending time with family and friends eases stress and helps us bounce back faster when times are rough.

Tips for Relaxation

July 15, 2016

Stress is everywhere. Good or bad, without proper self-care, stress can feel like it might swallow us alive. Why? Any time a change occurs causing an adjustment or interruption in our life, stress results. We then produce physical, emotional, and mental responses. However, certain exercises can activate the body’s natural “relaxation response,” which slows breathing, lowers blood pressure, and makes for a calmer and healthier you.

RELAXATION BENEFITS

Relaxation techniques are helpful to reduce stress and improve our quality of life. We can even benefit our overall physical and mental health by reducing chronic illness, pain, anxiety, and depression. Practicing relaxation can also:

  • Improve concentration
  • Minimize feelings of anger
  • Lower heart and breathing rates
  • Reduce muscle tension and pain
  • Minimize fatigue symptoms

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Let’s practice on relaxation technique known as progressive muscle relaxation. To begin, slow tense and relax individual muscles. Start with your feet and work up your body to your head. This helps you become aware of muscle tension when you are stressed.

There are a variety of other relaxation techniques, such as meditation, art therapy, massage, yoga, and deep breathing. These activities can be done alone or with the help of another person. Consider downloading an app or free guided exercise. You may find one technique does not work well for you. Be persistent until you connect with one yielding results.

Relaxation techniques may not completely eradicate the stress in your life, but they can lighten your stress load. They are often low-cost, low-risk for injury, and easily performed almost anywhere. So, why not try it? There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose, except maybe some extra stress.

Stress Self-Assessment

March 14, 2016

Feeling stressed? While everyone reacts differently to stress, your body, brain, and emotions have a unique stress response. Understanding these reactions can help you fine-tune your stress-reducing strategies.

STEP 1: EVALUATE YOUR RESPONSES
  • Pain – Stress can bring on immediate or chronic pain, such as back pain, headaches, nausea, jaw or fist clenching, muscle tension, etc.
  • Depression – Extreme amounts of stress can lead to symptoms of depression, including feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty.
  • Anger – Arguing and feeling short-fused with coworkers or loved ones is a common reaction when under stress.
  • Anxiety – Stress can trigger you to feel anxious, worrying or fearing the worst possible scenario.
  • Substance Use – Smoking, drinking excessively and drug use are all unhealthy ways of self-medicating your anxiety.
  • Eating – Overeating, skipping meals, and eating junk food with little nutrition are all ways people change their eating habits when under extreme stress.
STEP 2: EVALUATE COPING METHODS

Ask yourself the following questions to understand how you’re managing your stress load.

  • Do you have a support network in place?
  • Are there activities you enjoy?
  • Do you regularly get enough sleep?
  • Are there responsibilities you can delegate?
  • Do you practice relaxation exercises such as mindfulness, yoga, or meditation?
  • Do you have access to professionals who can help you?
STEP 3: TAKE ACTION

After you’ve evaluated coping methods, here are a few action steps you can take.

  • Address physical concerns – See your physician to assess any immediate physical concerns or questions you might have. Seek their recommendations for changes in your diet, exercise, or other habits.
  • Start small – Start with simple tasks, such as turning off screens or electronics earlier before bed or taking five minutes for deep breathing.
  • Recruit a friend – Accountability is key, so choose a friend or family member to encourage you on the path to positive changes in your life.
  • Take notes – Everyone responds differently to relaxation techniques or organizational tools. Keep a journal or use an app to track the strategies working for you. Seeing your progress can be just the motivation needed to continue good self-care.

THINKING WELL: Anger Management

February 15, 2016

Feeling angry is normal and healthy. What you do with your anger is what matters. We’re biologically wired to become angry in response to potential threats. However, we can’t respond with anger to everything. Anger management can help you learn the signs of anger and how to manage your reaction positively.

Some people are more likely to become angry than others. Even if they aren’t physically violent, they might be irritable, sarcastic, or constantly grumpy. Anger causes physical symptoms too, such as digestive and heart problems, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, headaches and the risk of substance abuse.

SEEKING HELP

How do you know if your anger is controlling you? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, consider seeking help.

  • Are you feeling constantly irritated or impatient?
  • Do you engage in frequent arguments with others?
  • Are you physically violent or considering violence?
  • Do you occasionally feel out of control?
  • Have you felt anxious or depressed about your anger?

HOW TO HELP

  • Identify stressors – Discover what is triggering your anger, such as work, rush hour traffic, or financial woes.
  • Notice indicators – Pay attention to any physical, emotional, or behavioral signs you experience when angry.
  • Examine thinking – Strive to correct your thinking and operate based on facts and good rationale.
  • Learn relaxation techniques – Practice mindfulness and deep breathing to soothe your body and focus your thoughts.
  • Focus on solutions

Anger management can help focus your energy on problems solving rather than frustration and hopelessness.

Remember, asking for help is never a weakness. Consult your doctor, mental health professional, or your employee assistance provider (EAP) for a referral. Consider attending a support group or check out other resources available online. Invest in yourself and learn to manage your anger instead of letting it manage you.

Caregiving Can Take a Toll on the Caregiver

December 14, 2015

While many Seniors continue to work today well beyond the traditional “retirement age,” there are many others who are in quite the opposite situation; they are desperately in need of eldercare due to failing health. Many of these people now depend on working family members to take care of their needs.

According to recent statistics from the American Society on Aging, nearly one out of every four US households – or 22 million households -provide care to a relative or friend aged 50 or older. In addition, 40% of caregivers are also raising children and 64% work full- or part-time. The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that, on average, caregivers spend four an done-half years providing care and spend about 12 hours each week providing it.

Research suggests that the physical and emotional demands on caregivers put them at greater risk for health problems:

  • Caregivers are more at risk for infectious diseases, such as colds and flue, and chronic diseases, such as heart problems, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Depression is twice as common among caregivers compared to noncaregivers.

If you are a caregiver, don’t forget to care for yourself. Here are a few tips:

When it comes to their health, caregivers are less likely than their peers to take steps to prevent or control chronic disease. Taking care of your own health will help you to better care for your loved one longer.

  • Be wise – immunize. The CDC recommends that caregivers of the elderly get a flu shot each year, a tetanus booster every 10 years and a pneumococcal vaccination at least once.
  • Don’t neglect your health. Get a yearly check up and the recommended cancer screenings (mammogram, cervical screening, etc.).
  • Tell your doctor that you are a caregiver.
  • Tell your doctor if you feel depressed or nervous.
  • Take some time each day to do something for yourself. Read, listen to music, telephone friends, or exercise. Eat health foods and do not skip meals.
  • Find caregiver resources in your area early. You may not need their information or services now, but you will have them when you need them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t do it all yourself. Use your family, friends, or neighbors for support. Family may help share caregiving tasks. Friends and neighbors may help with other chores.