Written by Jen Butler of JB Partners
There are foundations in everything we do. Foundations in construction, parenting, communication, and business. The same is true for stress management.
When we glean over or completely bypass the foundation phase of a process eventually things come crashing down like a house of cards. The same is true for stress management.
To make sure you have the basics in stress management, let’s review three of the foundational elements.
Research shows that the more control we have over outcomes the less stress we experience. In this case, we are not talking about micromanaging or having controlling tendencies.
By control, I’m speaking about the influence, engagement, empowerment, and intention we have over our own destiny. When we can participate in sculpting our own outcomes, our brain interprets that has having choice and freedom which keeps our stress response low.
A study by the CDC compared similar populations from June 2019 and June 2020, prior to and during the pandemic, for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and strain.
Anxiety disorders rose from 8.1% (2019) to 25.5% (2020); depressive disorders tripled from 6.5% (2019) to 24.3% (2020); and mental strain rose from 30.9% (2019) to 40.9% (2020). The deciding factor in the significant increase, no control nor input of the outcome.
Neuroscientists conclude that one’s sense of control is a major variable in a person’s perspective in their ability to cope with stress. The less choice, the more frustration, and the stress piles on.
Consistency has a significant impact on our stress response. The more our lives are scheduled with predictable and predetermined events, the fewer life change units we go through. For each situational change, our stress response is triggered and jolts our body aware by flooding our blood stream with cortisol and adrenaline.
Too much change and our stress cycle quickly turn chronic, having catastrophic effects on our body and systems.
Think about your reaction when your schedule falls apart. Or how you feel when your boss calls for an immediate, mandatory meeting on your regular day off. How about when your kids sporting coach lets you know about weekend tournaments only days in advance.
The roller coaster ride of inconsistency puts our stress cycle all out of whack. We start to experience stress symptoms at the end of each day in the way of insomnia, poor eating, exhaustion, and a slew of other side symptoms of stress.
Stress is a biological and physiological reaction. To counteract its effects, you must do so at the cellular level. There is no better way to accomplish this than to stimulate the release of oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ or ‘love hormone’. Socialization is a recommended coping method in any stress management program.
The reason is that oxytocin levels increase when people interact. The oxytocin hormone is linked to building trust, bonds, and intimate interactions. As these levels go up, cortisol and other stress hormones decrease, resulting in fewer and decrease the intensity of stress effects.
Now that you know better, you can do better. Here are your first several steps in any stress management program.
First, pick one of the foundational steps above and make it a focus. Ask yourself:
- “How can I be more in control of my daily life?”
- “How can I create consistency in my day?”
- “How can I connect more regularly with others?”
Answer each question by writing your answers down on paper and posting it on your bathroom mirror, computer screen, or on your refrigerator to keep it top of mind. You want to be specific and make sure there is a verb in each answer, otherwise, you’re not taking action.
Second, make addressing yours stress a consistent behavior. Daily attention to your coping methods is essential for keeping your stress at healthy levels.
Finally, make sure you’re toolbox of coping methods is large with varied kinds of techniques for you to choose. Relying on a single or a mere few techniques is just far too limited to fully manage the kinds and types of stress you can experience each day.
About Jen Butler:
Jen Butler, MEd is a Board-Certified Coach (BCC) and a Diplomate for the American Institute of Stress (DAIS). She is extremely proud to be the CEO & Founder of JB Partners, THE SMaRT (Stress Management and Resilience Training) Firm for all professionals.
JB Partners supports, informs, and helps people reduce their stress through their proven method of Know ~ Assess ~ Reduce Your Stress membership program. For more information go to JBPartners.com or email to Info@JBPartners.com.