Stressed? What’s Your Sign? 4/11

Stressed? What’s Your Sign? 4/11
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

April 2011

This may come as a complete surprise to you, but I am the head of technical support at Wholly Hannah! Coaching and Training. I am also the person who most needs technical support at Wholly Hannah! Coaching and Training. Dang. That’s an unfortunate coincidence, because if there is anything that stresses me out it’s technical problems.

Maybe technical problems are just the kind of problem solving you enjoy. Or maybe you work in an organization with ‘real’ tech support staff to solve your problems. Lucky you. As a coach and business owner, I’m pretty much crippled without my phone and computer, and whatever challenges I have are mine to fix.

Now let me be clear. I’m not totally ignorant, probably because I am head of technical support here at Wholly Hannah! Coaching and Training, after all. And I’m not totally alone. But a couple of new email addresses and a new internet provider created enough interrupted service and uncertainty to create some serious techno-panic and anxiety on my part. I felt sick about missed emails, angry and frustrated at my lack of control. I also noticed my neck pain appear. Do you think there is something to this mind/body connection?

Do you know what stresses you? Stress is a personal response to an event or a situation. Therefore stress responses are highly individual. It could be relationships, the to-do list, boredom, conflict, details, or lack of details. Or maybe lack of autonomy, downtime, money, or personality traits like impatience cause you stress.

There is really no such thing as stress, in and of itself. It’s important to understand how you are currently responding. What are your signals? Some of your behaviors might be abundantly clear to you (and others!), whereas you might be less aware of other signals that you are stressed. So in order to handle stress better, it’s important to know what rattles your cage and then to counter it with the appropriate, settling responses.

The four most important factors about managing stress
1. Know your stressors Pay close attention to what gets you riled. Try keeping a journal for a week and see what comes up. There might be more to it than you think. Ask yourself, “What is it about this that is distressing to me?” Try to get really specific. Is it like a situation that happened long ago and you are reacting automatically, instead of rationally? Does the situation illuminate a weakness you don’t like to admit? Is it about an unmet need? What are you afraid of? Are your core values being compromised?

2. Recognize your personal response to stress Do you pay attention to signs like: headaches, digestive issues, weight gain or loss, difficulty concentrating, nail biting, interrupted sleep? The potential list is endless and can be divided into the categories of physical, behavioral, emotional and cognitive symptoms.

You are responding to stress, with or without your awareness. Pay attention to your mind and body. It’s not uncommon to get used to consistently high levels of stress, and before you know it you’re in some kind of trouble. It’s important to catch the early signs and act on the stress, then the symptoms, so you don’t end up getting sick or burnt out.

3. Choose coping strategies and solutions appropriate to the source of stress Communicating and/or setting boundaries might be in order for relationships under strain. Getting more sleep to deal with your irritability can minimize stress and increase effectiveness. Reeling in your spending can ease financial burden, as can working with a professional advisor.

Dieting is not an appropriate strategy to deal with the stress that may have caused a weight gain. It’s just dealing with the symptom of overeating. If you don’t deal with the stress you will have difficulty sticking to the regime, (it’s just more stress), and also maintaining a weight loss, because you haven’t addressed the problem. Get to the source. Then look for an effective way to lose weight without dieting.

4. Have support systems to help you through difficult times Even when you have awareness of your stressors and symptoms and practice appropriate and healthy coping strategies, stress can still overtake you. Everyone willing can benefit from support. Again, if you can match the support to the source of your stress you can make a big difference to your big picture.

Reaching out for support is always better than denying there is a problem or succumbing to numbing behaviors like eating, drinking, smoking, spending or overworking.

I have a variety of support people to help me with technical stuff: a coach, a web designer, a brother and a friend, as well as a few legitimate, tech support services I’m entitled to as a customer. So I guess I have it covered. There’s no real need to panic, is there? I guess more deep breathing might be in order.

Remember that taking good care of yourself always puts you in a better position to deal with whatever life delivers. In general, physical activity, deep breathing and meditation, being in nature and down time have been proven to help with stress.

Who do you need on your team?

Wholly Hannah! Coaching and Training offers one-on-one support for stressed-out and out-of-balance individuals. For technical support, call 1 800 . . .