Top Ten Tips on...

Stress Management

12 June 2022
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
10 practical tips to help you prevent getting stressed, then dealing effectively with it if it happens...

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Pressure and stress are different.

it's really important not to confuse the two. Pressure represents all the forces acting upon us mainly externally. Stress is the inappropriate response to that pressure. So whenever we're stressed, I'm calling it inappropriate. And for this podcast at least it's a negative response to pressure


Stress is not inevitable.

this may be the most important point of the 10, and is difficult to perhaps reconcile: stress is a chosen response to that pressure, so it’s a choice, rather than an inevitability. Perhaps the best way of explaining this is that, although we’re not perfect, and sometimes we will get stressed, if we believe stress is inevitable, then we perhaps permit ourselves to get stressed more than we need, because we have that belief that ‘stress is inevitable’. Whereas, if you believe some stress can be avoided or managed differently, then you are more likely to make such choices, than if you believe all stress is inevitable


Proactive and reactive responses

there are really two fundamental approaches: a proactive and a reactive approach. A proactive approach focuses on preventing stress in the first place. It tries to work out what is likely to generate stress and what can we do to prevent those factors? The second approach is a reactive approach, essentially deciding what to do when stressed, when stress has happened, when you feel stressed, what is the best thing you can do to manage that stress once it's in place?


Stress is negative

I take stress to be a pejorative term, something undesirable over the long term. it's something that is long-term unhealthy and unhelpful. Some people, perhaps many people see their response to pressure as positive. It gets the heart racing. It gets the heart pumping, the adrenaline flowing, and that response if used constructively can be helpful. But it isn't stress because it's helpful because it's serving a purpose. So let's not use the word stress for something that's a constructive response to pressure. We can call it a stimulus or stimulation, but stress in my world is always defined negatively as something to be avoided because it's unhelpful over the longer term.


Three key steps

there are 3 key steps explaining how stress happens. The first step is an event happens; this then leads to step 2 – an interpretation of that event. |And this leads to the third step – an actual response. So for stress to occur, the event has to happen, be interpreted – usually as a threat or fear – and as a result of this interpretation, the response is stress, physical, mental and emotional. The next 3 points look at each in turn.


Step 1: the event

this will usually be something from the outside world – a trigger, such as somebody being aggressive, or a dog barking and running towards you.


Step 2: the interpretation

technically, the above are just events. Some people will treat them as such, and not get stressed. So it is the interpretation, the meaning we give to the event, that triggers the stress response.


Step 3: the response

your emotional, mental or physical response, your biochemical response, will be based on your interpretation of that event. It's a call to action. Your mind is the command centre. Once your mind has decided that the event is a threat, then it sends signals into your body that generate what we would call collectively being stressed.


Interpret the event differently

if you know an event generates anxiety or threat for you, what can you do to avoid that event? to you take the dog example, if you know, on your way home from work or your daily run, it takes you past the, a barking dogs and then alter your route. So look for ways you can avoid events that trigger stress. Then think about your interpretation of the event. Could you reframe it? Could you look at that event differently through this new set of lenses? Have a good look at what you're typically framing as threatening see it as just an event that doesn't actually cause a problem, it's just your interpretation.


Avoid self-fulfilling beliefs

avoid negative self-talk. Don't talk to yourself and talk yourself into something that's not particularly helpful. Don't send negative messages to yourself. Be careful about what we call self-fulfilling beliefs - that once you believe something is threatening, it almost certainly is. So challenge any negative belief system you have about events in the world., or yourself.

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