Stress is Complicated
If you are like me, you probably get insulted when so-called, “stress coaches” try to sell you band-aid approaches to managing stress. You know, they lead-in with lines like “Banish Your Stress Forever” or “Be Stress Free in 10 Minutes” etc.
The simple truth is that no single strategy or technique will work against all stressors and stressful situations. All require different approaches to manage them effectively. This is why I developed a new course for you that is built around my multi-level defense system against stress called The Five R’s.
The Five R’s are: Reorganize, Rethink, Relax, Release, and Reduce.
Each R represents a different level of defense against stress and contains several different strategies that work in a similar fashion. As you know, each stressful situation you find yourself in is slightly different from the last one. You might use a strategy from one “R” today that would not have worked with a similar stressor last week. Having a multi-level defense system against stress allows you to find something that will work with any stressor you are confronted with on any given day. The five different levels of defense work independently or together in a synergestic way.
Your health really exists on a continuum from low-level wellness to high-level wellness and covers more than just physical, mental, and social well-being. Wellness is a conscious and deliberate approach to life that focuses on balancing the seven dimensions of health (physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental and occupational well-being) as you strive for optimal functioning. All seven dimensions can work together to build a more stress-resistant lifestyle for you. Reorganize strategies to conquer your stress revolve around hardy health habits that make you more stress resistant. Hardy health habits give you more energy and other resources to cope with stress.
For example, a key hardy health habit is getting 30 minutes of exercise daily. Experts recommend combining endurance exercises like walking or jogging at a moderate pace with 8-10 strength training exercises like weight lifting. If you incorporate this one hardy health habit into your lifestyle you will have more energy, need less sleep, and have greater mental focus. All three of these benefits will help you conquer your stress. Other hardy health habits work the same way.
Since stress begins and ends in your brain, with what your mind tells you about potential stressors and your ability to cope with them, this line of defense works by helping you change the way you think about stress. Rethink strategies use the power of your mind to short-circuit the stress response before it even begins. Your mind is a powerful force that can both create and conquer stress. When you are exposed to a potential stressor your mind instantly answers two questions:
- “Is this threatening or harmful to me?”
- “Can I cope with it?”
If the answers are; ” yes it is threatening” and “no, I can’t cope” your brain will instantly trigger a stress response. The answers your mind give you to these two questions determines whether or not you will be stressed. Often, what your mind tells you about these two questions is inaccurate, illogical, and unhelpful.
Rethink strategies work by helping you understand how your mind works when thinking about stress. You can learn how to short-circuit your stress response by changing the way you think about the unhelpful messages your mind gives you about threatening and harmful situations and your ability to handle them.
Your body cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time. The two states of being are incompatible. Relax strategies work by switching on a relaxation response that puts your body into a relaxed state and cancels out the stress response. Because the relaxation response is the exact opposite of the stress response you can’t be stressed and relaxed at the same time.
When you put your body into a relaxed state on a regular basis you cancel out all of the unhealthy effects of stress (increased blood pressure, hormone release, muscle tension etc.). In a sense, this is like recharging your batteries when stress drains the energy from them. Relax strategies such as diaphragmatic breathing, breath meditation, and visualization are easy to learn and will slow down your runaway mind and relax your tense muscles.
The stress response is all about mobilizing energy to fight or flee from stressors. This energy, and the tension it creates, gets you all wound up and ready to act. If you do not use it to fight or flee, the energy and tension just linger, making it very difficult for you to concentrate, focus, and get to sleep at night. Release strategies work by releasing this tension and energy in healthy ways by giving you a positive physical outlet for the by-products of the stress response
Sometimes it isn’t what you do that causes stress, it is how much you take on that does it. Reduce strategies work by helping you discover your optimal balance of activities and commitments related to work, play, family, community, or other areas in your life. Reduce strategies help you minimize the amount of stress in your life while maximizing your challenges, the things you are passionate about. Most people spend a lot of valuable time on people and commitments that drain their energy and create stress. By cutting back on this wasted activity, you can free up the time and energy you want and need to focus on the things that you are passionate about and challenge you.
A New Course Just for Coaches
I’ve created a new course, just for coaches called, Stress Coaching A Five Step Approach. The course has been approved by the Center for Credentialing and Education for 10 Coaching CEU credits.