There are some tabloids that report on events such as “Eighty-Year-Old Mother Gives
Birth to Twins.” You’ll find them at newsstands and markets. Recently, I spotted a
front-page headline, “The Ultimate Secret to Stress Reduction.” For 50 cents how could
I go wrong? Here is what I learned.
A fellow in Canton, Ohio, buys an enormous amount of Jell-O. When he is distressed,
he puts it into his bathtub, gets in, and lies there until it sets. He assures readers that it
works. His worries are removed; no more troubles; aches and pains gone. Well, I didn’t try it. It made for amusing reading, though. Who knows? It probably did help him. The lesson from this scenario is simply, What works for one person may not work for another. Wellness programs must be custom designed. What works for me may not help you. Nonetheless, you must identify and stick to those highways that avoid the barriers of distress and lead to success. At this point, construct your own unique wellness program. Good luck!
1. What major stressor do you currently face? What creates anxiety or discomfort for you?
(For example, “I have too much to do.”)
The major stressor that I face is trying to balance all of the activities and responsibilities that I have. Between school, chores, work, homework, family, and social life, it can be very stressful trying to find time for everything.
2. What are the major attributes or components of the situation? Break the major problem
down into smaller parts or problems. (For example, “I said ‘yes’ to too many things.” “I
have deadlines approaching.” “I don’t have all the resources I need to fulfill all my
commitments right now.”)
I have too many commitments to too many different people. I don’t have enough time to do everything I need to do.
3. What are the subcomponents of each of those smaller problems? Divide them into yet
smaller parts. (For example, “I have the following deadlines approaching: a report due, a
large amount of reading to do, a family obligation, an important presentation, a need to
spend some personal time with someone I care about, a committee meeting that requires
Attribute 1: I have to make sure that I go to school every day, and make time to do all of my homework at night, including this paper.
Attribute 2: I have to do a lot of chores at home, including the dishes, cleaning my room, taking out the garbage, and vacuuming the house.
Attribute 3: I have a lot of family obligations, and it is important to my parent’s that I make time to spend with my family.
Attribute 4: I have a lot of friends, and I feel bad if I don’t get to hang out with them a lot.
4. What actions can I take that will affect any of these subcomponents? (For example, “I can
engage the person I care about in helping me prepare for the presentation. I can write a
shorter report than I originally intended. I can carry the reading material with me wherever
I should learn to manage my time better so that I can figure out which things are priorities, and then I can make a schedule every week to make sure that I am getting everything done. I can combine homework and my social life by studying with my friends. I can also use my free time during lunch to study or hang out with my friends.
5. What actions have I taken in the past that have helped me cope successfully with similar
stressful circumstances? (For example, “I have found someone else to share some of my tasks. I have gotten some reading done while waiting, riding, and eating. I have prepared
only key elements for the committee meeting.”)
In the past, I was able to cope in similar situations when I was able to spend time with my family and do school work at the same time. My family helped quiz me for a test by making a game out of it. This helped me to cope in a stressful situation because I was able to get my important school work done, yet I was able to spend time with my family at the same time.
6. What small thing should I feel good about as I think about how I have coped or will cope
with this major stressor? (For example, “I have accomplished a lot when the pressure has been
on in the past. I have been able to use what time I had to prepare to the best advantage.”)
I feel good at the fact that I am taking steps in the right direction to manage my stresses. By prioritizing I will be able to get everything done that I need to.
Repeat this process each time you face major stressors. The six specific questions
may not be as important to you as (1) breaking the problem down into incremental
parts and then breaking those parts down again, and (2) identifying actions that can be
done and that have been done in the past that have been successful in coping with components of the stressor.
Some of the answers to the preceding questions reside in the seven coping strategies. The most important answers, however, are housed within you. Each one of us must develop and (on occasion) use a stress management program. Being prepared for incoming stressors is like preparing for incoming artillery rounds. On the lines that follow, think through and write down what you do to cope with excessive stress. When you review the guidelines you’ve written, ask yourself: (1) Are they healthy? (2) Do they really work for me? and (3) What else might I do to put joy and success in my life?
When I am really stressed out, I can get upset and take it out on the people around me. This is not a healthy way to cope with the stressors because it does not solve the problem and it hurts the people around me. This method does not work for me because it is not making it any better, only worse. But, by learning how to handle these stresses, like prioritizing my schedule, I am better able to handle the stresses. I can put joy into my life my finding a better way to handle my stresses, like going for a run. By prioritizing my time, I can find more time to enjoy life.