Stress Management

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What Is Stress?

Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition. And if you can’t define stress, how can you possibly measure it? The term “stress”, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. >>Read more

It's A Personal Journey: What You Can Do To Become More Resilient To Stress
Developing Better Outlets:  Finding stress outlets is essential to staying well.  Look for simple ways to incorporate relaxation and exercise into your daily routine.  
  • Think of stressful events as money spent and relaxing events as money saved.  Make a conscious effort to save more and spend less.
  • Make big deposits to your health account by exercising, meditating (click on the Video tab from the TrustWellness drop down box on the main page), walking, or practicing yoga.
  • Make little deposits by laughing, reading, listening to music or taking a hot bath.
  • Create a list of 20 little things you enjoy doing and try to do at least five things every day.
  • Practice Mindfulness.  For example, think about what it is you're doing, like when you're taking a shower, think about how good the water feels running down your back, instead of what you will be doing in fifteen minutes.
Recognizing Stress Symptoms: People take medicine to mask their stess symptoms and consequently never determine the true source of their disease.
  • Jot down the symptoms you experience when stressed (headaches, upset stomach, anger, frustration, etc.)  Make a note of when and where you experience these symptoms over the course of the next week.
  • Try to establish a link between your stress symptoms and any recurring physical events.
  • Treat your stress symptoms like a warning light on the dashboard of your car.  When your warning light flashes, pull over, take a break, stretch, breathe deeply, go for a short walk, etc.
  • DON'T smother your stress symptoms with over-the-counter medications or ignore them.  You  could wind up with a stress-related illness.
Reducing Time Pressure:  Important things are seldom urgent and urgent things are seldom important.
  • Don't underestimate the time saved by planning.  Allow at least 15 minutes each morning for scheduling your day.
  • Spend at least an hour every day working on something important with long term benefits (like developing new marketable skills.
  • Schedule blocks of unscheduled time inbetween meetings and errands.
  • Get in the habit of arriving early to all important appointments.
  • Make a list of the six most important things you need to do every day.  Keeping your list  short will force you to prioritize your work.
Improve Your Financial Security:  Personal indebtedness is a highly underrated source of stress.
  • Recognize the importance of paying off debt, if only for your own peace of mind.
  • Work toward putting aside an amount equal to six months of salary in the event you would be laid off.  Begin saving 10% of your income and use 5% to pay off debt.
  • Talk to your school human resource officer to set up a meeting to talk to an investment professional.
  • Remember, saving adds up.  $100 a month for 45 years will add up to $1,000,000 (assuming 10% growth per year).
Better Deal With Anger:  Expressing anger rarely get you what you want and sometime has the odd effect of helping you justify being angry.
  • Think twice before losing your temper.  Angry outburst usually leave you feeling even worse.
  • Ask objective friends if you anger is justified.  If they don't agree 100%...let your anger go.
  • Before expressing anger, ask yourself: Am I truly inconvenienced by this situation?  If not, it isn't worth getting angry over.
  • Try putting yourself in the other person's shoes.  Assume they had a good reason for doing what they did and talk it out on that basis.
  • Avoid blame.  Blaming only makes you feel helpless and more upset.  Take responsibility instead.
Feel More In Control:  Studies show that people who feel more in control of their lives experience less stress.
  • Develop a comfortable morning routine:  get up earlier, get things ready the night before such as lunches, attire, etc.
  • Commit yourself to arriving to work 5 to 10 minutes early.
  • Celebrate "organization day" at least once a month.  Organize your desk, your closets, your car.
  • Take any action, no matter how small, to resolve a situation that feels out of control.
Reduce Your Worries:  Most worries never come to pass and those things worth worring about usually hit you by surprise.
  • Only worry about the things you can control, not the things you can't, like the weather or the price of gas.
  • Worry with a writing instrument.  Write your worries down on paper, and solutions will appear.
  • Learn more about what it is that is worrying you.  Read a book.  Ask an expert.  Talk to a friend who's been through it.
Better Cope With Change:  Change can be stressful.  But if life never changed at all - that would be even more stressful.
  • Accept inevitable changes you can't control (like the economy).
  • In time of high stress, reduce, eliminate or postpone the changes you can control (like mowing the lawn or moving)
  • Understand that too many major life changes at one time can be detrimental to your health.
Feel More Content:  Happiness is a choice that requires effort at time.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet room, close your eyes and do nothing for half an hour.  Just listen.
  • Meditate.  If you don't know how, go to the TrustWellness tab on the main page and click on Video Gallery for videos that walk you through the process.
  • Do something nice for someone you know well and for someone you don't know well.
  • Make one list of all the things you like to do and second one of all the things you hate doing.  Do more and more things from list one and less and less from list two.
Why We Gain Weight When We’re Stressed—And How Not To

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly eating a tub of ice cream while you brood about your latest romantic rejection or eating a hamburger and fries in front of your computer as you furiously try to make a work deadline, when you suddenly realize your waistline has expanded. If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, you’re not alone and it’s probably not your fault. Stress that goes on for a long period is a triple whammy for weight—it increases our appetites, makes us hold onto the fat, and interferes with our willpower to implement a healthy lifestyle. Click here for four major reasons stress leads to weight gain and four great research-based coping strategies you can use to fight back.

FAQ:  Elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can lead to weight gain, problems with maintaining glucose control, and reduces immune function.  Nonstop stress can cause a nearly round-the-clock release of cortisol, which can trigger hunger cues, sending us toward unhealthy, high-carb treats like candy or chips.  Finding healthy alternatives that get you through a stressful time is imperative.  Here are ten things you can do to decrease the physical effects of stress:  click here
Holiday Stress Management

Accept That You Can’t Do It All-The tendency to go overboard with gifts, food, and family gatherings can really wear us down during the holidays. Does an extra dozen gingerbread cookies really make that much of a difference? Instead, realize that you can’t do everything on your own. Enlist helpers to make the essentials happen and leave some time to relax and actually enjoy the holidays.

Give Yourself a Gift of Relaxation-Muscles a little achy from all of that holiday shopping? Give yourself a gift of a massage to work the knots of tension out of those muscles. A spa certificate makes a great gift for busy relatives who don’t take time for themselves as well.

Take Advantage of Short Days-The shorter days and longer nights of winter mean more hours in the dark and greater risk of seasonal affective disorder (or SAD), a condition that can often be eased by taking advantage of those wee hours of sunlight. So get outdoors on sunny days and look into purchasing a phototherapy emitter (a box that sits on your bedside table and emits full-spectrum light).  Click here for more examples 

Stress Management
Work Life Balance

Mindfulness can help you tame fears and worries

When your day is derailed by fear and worry, you want to try to center your mind and become more anchored in the present moment. Mindfulness techniques can help you do just that. If this is your first attempt at practicing mindfulness, you might find it challenging at first. By practicing this skill for a few minutes each day, over time you’ll find it easier to calm your racing mind and make your worries take a back seat.

Deep breathing

Breathing is something so natural that we barely think about it. In fact, you breathe about 20,000 times a day without conscious thought. You might wonder how something as simple as taking deep breaths can do anything for your fear and worry. Yet the breath, which yogis call "prana," has powerfully calming effects on your brain and the rest of your nervous system.

When you’re anxious, your breathing quickens. Purposefully slowing your breaths helps you gain more control over your mental state. You can do it anywhere. There are several breathing techniques you might try.

Diaphragmatic, or belly breathing

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by sitting comfortably or lying on your back.
  • Place one hand on the upper part of your chest and the other hand on your belly.
  • Relax your belly muscles.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose until you feel your belly start to rise.
  • Breathe out slowly through slightly pursed lips and feel your belly fall.

Box breathing

  • Breathe out while counting to four.
  • Hold your breath while counting to four.
  • Breathe in while counting to four.
  • Hold your breath while counting to four.

Start with just a minute or two of deep breathing and expand the time from there. Try for at least 10 minutes of deep breathing each day. During each session, focus on becoming aware of the feeling of your breath moving in and out. Observe what happens in your body when you concentrate on your breathing.


Meditation takes deep breathing one step further, by combining it with mental focus. Research finds mindfulness meditation helpful for not only relieving anxiety symptoms, but also for improving our ability to cope with the stressors that life throws our way.

Set aside a few minutes each day to meditate. Sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Breathe deeply in and out while calming your mind. You might repeat a sound, word, or phrase, like "life is good" or "om." If your mind wanders, as it inevitably will, gently steer it back to the present. Think of your intrusive thoughts as clouds. Acknowledge them, but then let them drift away.

Mindfulness seems easy, but that sense of simplicity can be deceptive. It takes effort to still a racing mind. And it might take you some time and multiple tries to accomplish it.

To get started, set a time to practice mindfulness each day. Put it in your calendar. Aim for only two to five minutes your first day. As you get more comfortable with the practice, build up to longer sessions. A good goal is to work up to practicing for 10 to 20 minutes each day.