How do you define stress?
The word stress is derived from the Latin word “stringere” meaning to “draw tight”. Everyone who has ever been stressed will relate to the feeling of being stretched way beyond their limits.
The term is commonly used today in a metaphorical rather than literal or biological sense, as a catch-all for any perceived difficulties in life. It covers a huge range of phenomena from mild irritation to the kind of severe problems that might result in a real breakdown of health.
The Harvard Medical School defines stress as:
An automatic physical response to any stimulus that requires you to adjust to change.
My preferred definition comes from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Britain, who have defined stress as:
The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them.
How do you know if stress is a problem in your life?
1. You are aware that you are acting out of character when you are stressed
2. Others have commented that your behaviour, actions or productivity are being impacted.
3. You feel constantly overwhelmed, anxious or tired.
What is the difference between busy and stressed?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Its really down to how you personally respond to pressure in your life. My busy might be your stressed and vice-versa.
What does a Coach do to help relieve stress?
The confidential one-to-one relationship between a Coach and Client provides a comfortable and safe space for the exploration of what stress means.
- Helping the client to define stress for themselves,
- Facilitate client understanding of how they are different when they are stressed,
- Assist the client to learn what triggers their stress,
- Develop an understanding of learning the early warning signs of stress so that client knows when to take action,
- Discuss the with the client the payoff for being stressed,
- Helping the client to create a clear vision of a stress free life,
- Aiding the client to determine if the goal of a “stress-free” life is worth the expenditure of effort to make changes
- Focussing on this key equation: Dissatisfaction + Vision+ 1st Steps > Resistance
Can Stress be good for you?
Yes. In fact, scientists have coined the term ‘Eustress’ for good stress. ‘Eu’ is the greek prefix for good. Good stress is the stress you feel when you are standing at the top of the mountain ready to ski down, or when you are walking up the aisle to marry the person you love. Good stress gave the firefighters at the World Trade Center the energy they need to rescue people. Good stress gives us the adrenaline boost we need to jump out of the way of a car which has run a red light as we are crossing the street. This is the kind of stress we are built to handle.
Do some people have a natural tendency to feel more overwhelmed or stressed than others?
In general I would say no. We are all wired in the same way. I think the differences between individuals are down to our perceptions about our control of the world around us. (see question on stress hardiness)
Why are some people stress junkies?
I think that there is a payoff to these Stress Junkies (or Divas) for exhibiting signs of stress. The Diva or Junkie tends to get more attention from loved ones or the boss, it boosts their sense of self importance There may even be a genuine addiction to the High they get from the extra attention.
Why are some people stress hardier than others?
Psychologist Suzanne Kobasa and her colleagues tackled the question of why some people appear less vulnerable to stress or even seem to thrive on regular doses of it. According to Kobasa, stress-hardy people feel a sense of control or the ability to influence events, embrace the challenge in situations others might find stressful, and describe themselves as committed to something meaningful.
Their research identified characteristics common to stress-hardy folks.
- Social Support (friends, relatives, community)
- Challenge, and
Kobasa’s research, which has focused on the workplace, found that people with these characteristics reported fewer illnesses and were less likely to be absent from work.
What if I’m all stressed out and feel like I can’t do anything about it?
I think this is almost a classic definition of being stressed – the feeling that you can’t do anything. The truth is we always have choices. When we are stressed we feel a lack of control (as discussed above). At these times, one-to-one coaching can help you get your feet back on the ground, regain equilibrium and come up with a plan.
Or, put differently, if I have a chronic illness, an elderly parent to care for, a husband who looks at other women, a situation at work, etc that looks impossible what do I do?
We can only control ourselves and our reactions to what is around us – I highly advocate strong boundaries.
I often work with clients to re-frame the situation or examine their reaction to the situation. For example, one of my favourite questions is, “if this situation were meant to be perfect just as it is, what is perfect about it”?
What are the warning signs that stress is a problem?
Learning to understand your personal warning signs is vital, but there are some common ones; Change in eating or sleeping patterns; change in behaviour such that others notice or comment on the change, stress interferes with other things in your life or your relationship to the tasks you normally perform changes.
Is stress a Choice?
No single situation is stressful. It is how we choose to react to the situation which may bring about stress. We are often conditioned by our experiences or relationships to automatically choose stress. That decision to go into ‘stress mode’ happens in a millisecond and its often hard to trap that instant when the choice is made. Through practice and training we can learn to spot trigger points and stop the automatic selection of ‘stress mode’ as the default option. In this way to stress or not to stress becomes a choice.
What about all that yoga, soft music, deep breathing, energy clearing – can it really help?
Absolutely – I’m a huge advocate of distraction techniques, and preventative measures. You just have to find the techniques that work for you. You won’t know which ones are the best until you try them.
What kind of things do you offer when you work with clients?
I offer one-to-one coaching, teleseminars,and will be offering home study courses in the near future for individual clients. I also work with businesses providing Stress relief workshops, team events, and of course one-to-one coaching for business owners. I also speak about Stress Relief to groups of all sizes
Do you get stressed?
Yes, but I’m pretty good at recognising the warning signs and I have hundreds of techniques that I can call on to calm me down.
Do you have a favourite stress relief technique?
See the Free Stuff page of this website for the “I am Calm” meditation. It’s one of my favourites stress relief techniques. You’ll also see some online bubble wrap there. I love popping bubble wrap, it brings out the little kid in me and always cheers me up.
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