Stress Management

Stress Management

Have you​ ever said the​ words,​ "This job/my life is​ so stressful!" or​ something else along those lines?

Most people believe that stress is​ something that happens in​ their lives. They believe it​ is​ the​ result of​ outside circumstances beyond their control. We are stressed if​ our work is​ too difficult. We get stressed when people in​ our lives aren’t doing what we want them to​ do. We are stressed when it’s been too long since a​ vacation. We get stress over deaths,​ weddings,​ major purchases and a​ host of​ other things. We talk as​ if​ stress is​ something outside ourselves---a condition of​ things in​ our external environment. It's not.

Health professionals will tell us that stress is​ a​ contributing factor in​ many physical ailments---heart attacks,​ asthma,​ high blood pressure,​ stroke and many others. There are several diagnoses in​ the​ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV,​ the​ diagnostic tool of​ therapists and psychiatrists that describe many stress-related disorders. Stress is​ a​ killer. Have you​ ever wondered why some people seem to​ handle stress better than others do?

One individual may have all the​ life circumstances purported to​ cause stress in​ one’s life but seem to​ be just breezing through his or​ her day,​ seemingly without a​ care,​ while another person gets a​ flat tire on​ the​ way to​ work and has a​ total melt down. How can this be explained?

I intend to​ look at​ stress from a​ different perspective---a choice theory perspective.

According to​ Choice Theory,​ all behavior is​ purposeful. This means that no matter what we do it​ is​ a​ purposeful attempt to​ get something we want. We are never simply responding to​ outside stimuli.

You may ask,​ “What about when I flinch when I hear a​ loud noise?” the​ flinching is​ not a​ response to​ the​ noise,​ but rather your proactive way of​ staying safe. This may seem like I’m splitting hairs,​ but it​ is​ an​ important distinction to​ understand in​ this discussion of​ stress.

Let me give you​ another example. you​ may think you​ get mad at​ your child for not cleaning his or​ her room after you​ asked several times. it​ sure feels as​ if​ the​ anger is​ in​ direct response to​ your child’s behavior. However,​ your anger is​ actually your best attempt to​ get your child to​ do what you​ want. By displaying angry behavior,​ it​ is​ your belief that your child will go ahead and clean up his or​ her room. Any behavior or​ emotion we employ is​ a​ proactive,​ sometimes conscious sometimes not,​ attempt to​ get something we want,​ not a​ response to​ external stimuli.

The same is​ true for stress. We are choosing stress as​ a​ proactive attempt to​ get something we want. This choice is​ almost never conscious,​ but I want it​ to​ become conscious for you. Once it​ is​ conscious,​ then you​ have the​ power to​ choose to​ do it​ differently if​ you​ so desire.

Since all behavior is​ purposeful,​ it​ helps to​ understand what possible benefits or​ purposes one could achieve by stressing. Who would ever choose that behavior for any benefit?

I say stressing can be motivating. Many of​ us perform at​ our peak level when we have that adrenalin rush moving through our veins. Anyone who has ever waited until the​ last minute to​ study for a​ test or​ complete a​ project knows what I’m talking about here.

Stressing can also be a​ way of​ telling others they better back off. I know when I felt stress,​ it​ was my unconscious goal to​ let my boss know she had better not ask me to​ do one more thing or​ I just might lose it! I would send out signals of​ overwhelm---lots of​ sighing,​ threatening looks,​ irritability,​ loss of​ humor. I have to​ admit that since I didn’t do it​ very often,​ it​ was quite effective. Whenever I was stressed,​ my boss generally left me alone to​ do my work.

Stressing can also get us the​ help we need. When the​ message is​ out there,​ others may rally around us to​ support us. People may actually offer to​ do some things for us so we can reduce the​ overwhelm.

Another possible benefit is​ that stressing can provide us with recognition. People may say,​ "Wow,​ look at​ _____________. I don't know how he/she gets all that done. It's amazing!" There are some who appreciate this positive recognition.

One final thought on​ stressing benefits. . . When we stress long enough,​ we may develop physical symptoms. in​ Choice Theory,​ Dr. Glasser tells us that are behavior is​ total,​ meaning it​ is​ comprised of​ four inseparable component---the action,​ our thoughts,​ our feelings and the​ physiology of​ our body or​ whatever our body is​ doing at​ that moment. When we don’t take care of​ managing our stress levels,​ our physiology takes over and creates physical symptoms for us. Now remember,​ I said all behavior is​ purposeful and physiology is​ a​ part of​ the​ total behavior. Do you​ understand the​ purpose of​ the​ physical symptoms that accompany prolonged stress? of​ course,​ it​ is​ our body’s way of​ telling us we have to​ stop or​ slow down. it​ produces the​ physical symptoms that are hard to​ ignore. When we attend to​ them,​ we get the​ rest we need and therefore reduce the​ stress. Can you​ see how all behavior is​ purposeful?

If you​ are experiencing the​ effects of​ stress in​ your life,​ I am not suggesting that you​ are to​ blame. What I am saying is​ that up until this point,​ you​ have been doing absolutely the​ best you​ know how,​ consciously or​ unconsciously to​ get something you​ want by stressing. if​ you​ can pinpoint what the​ benefit(s) of​ stress is/are to​ you,​ then you​ can look at​ ways to​ get what you​ need without having to​ stress.

Stress Management

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