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There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by where stress and the effects of stress on professional people isn’t somewhere in the media. It’s fair to say that for most people, life in the new millennium is not only getting faster, with more pressures; it’s also more demanding and stressful. Life balance for many employees is wishful thinking, as the pressures to perform at work increase and the stress and uncertainty of the future continually lurk in the backgrounds of many lives.
Be able to understand and successfully manage stress is critical if you are to thrive and not merely survive in the workplace today.
The Problem With Stress
Before we can do anything about stress, it’s important to be able to successfully understand and define it. What distress mean to you? Have you ever experience stress, and if you have, how would you explain it to someone who has no idea what stress is?
What Are Your LCU’s?
Everybody experiences stress! Too little makes life incredibly boring and too much makes life unlivable. As you have learnt already, everybody manages different types of stress and varying amounts of stress (at different times in life) differently.
While some people perform better with a small amount of stress, others perform better with more stress. Dr’s. T.H. Holmes and R. H. Rahe developed what they described as a Social Readjustment Scale, (“Life Crisis Units”) to differentiate the different events that create the most stress. While this questionnaire is an oversimplification, using the LCU scale can give you a good indication of how susceptible you are to a stress breakdown. As you answer the questions, you’ll be interested to note that even positive life events can also be stressful.
The Influence of Stress
In engineering terms, when too much force or pressure is applied to materials, they can bend, break, rupture or crumble. The same principles are true of human. We can only stand so much stress!
While a certain level of stress can improve your physical and psychological performance for short-term performance, left unchecked too much stress, over-arousal and over-stimulation can have a detrimental effect on your overall well being and effectiveness. As Hans Selye suggests, “Without stress, there would be no life”.
American Psychologist, Dr Leon Kamin noted that not enough arousal or demands (placed upon us), can be just as bad and harmful as too many demands and being over aroused! He developed an inverted “bell curve” to demonstrate the relationship between demands and performance. This is known widely as the Kamin Curve.
In order to be able to manage and reduce your stress, it’s important to be able to determine what stress feels like. There are generally three ways we can observe stress in the human body. The first form of stress is physical stress. The second is psychological. The third is behavioural. On this page we will look more closely at identifying these three types of stress signals.
How to Reduce Your Stress
Forgive and Seek Forgiveness
Forgiveness offers the possibility of gaining two types of peace: peace of mind — the potential healing of old emotional wounds, and peace with others – the possibility of new, more gratifying relationships in the future. Holding on to old hurts and wounds is a surefire way of keeping stress bottled up. Is it time to forgive and let go of past hurts?
Manage Your Time & Your Life
Do you find yourself overcommitting your time? Do you take on too much? Do you find yourself going from thing to thing, without a clear plan during the day? Is your work area, rooms, car or home disorganised?
Choose Your Friends—Carefully
Do you have friends (or family) that pull you down and don’t build you up? Does it seem like they continually criticise you or pick on you? Are some of these people a constant source of stress?
Get Involved In a Hobby
Joining a club or getting involved in a hobby (with other people) is not only a stress reducer, it’s a great way to meet new people. Have you been meaning to join a club or take up a sport or hobby, but haven’t (yet)?
Incorporate Daily Rituals
Rituals can be a great way to relieve yourself of daily stressors. A ritual could be to each lunch 3 days a week in the park (near your work); take your kids for visit to the library 1 night a week; read the newspaper or a favourite book in bed. Do you have any wonderful rituals?
Eat & Drink Well
The value of good nutrition is nothing new. Back in 400 B.C., Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Today, good nutrition is more important than ever. Do you need to eat healthy food and drink more than you do at present?
Take Time to Exercise
The older you get, the more important it is to participate in some sort of exercise. Be it a sport, or physical activity, overcoming excuses and realising the numerous benefits that one can achieve from undertaking physical activity on a regular basis is critical to reduce your stress”. Do you realise the value of regular exercise?