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Bouncing Back: Stress Relief in Times of Uncertainty

Bouncing Back: Stress Relief in Times of Uncertainty. Presenter: Nancy Losinno, EAP Manager. What is “Stress?”. Stress is an automatic reaction to a demand or perceived danger ; Stress is a fact of life…some of it is helpful because it helps you to meet challenges

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Bouncing Back: Stress Relief in Times of Uncertainty

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  1. Bouncing Back: Stress Reliefin Times of Uncertainty Presenter: Nancy Losinno, EAP Manager

  2. What is “Stress?” • Stress is an automatic reaction to a demand or perceived danger; • Stress is a fact of life…some of it is helpful because it helps you to meet challenges • Too much stress can cause problems…it can affect you mental & physical health and damage relationships with the important people in your life

  3. The Long-term Effects of Stress • Migraine or tension headaches • High blood pressure • Muscle tension, esp. in back & neck • Diminished immune response • Poor sleep • Psychiatric complaints: depression/anxiety • Bad habits: smoking, drinking, drugs to relax, excessive use of caffeine, etc.

  4. What Does Stress Feel Like? • Rapid heartbeat • Jittery/racing thoughts • Inability to focus • Panicky feelings • Inability to relax, esp. to sleep • Feel like crying • Snapping at people • Nervousness and worrying

  5. Is All Stress Bad for You? • Different life events can bring “good stress” because they require an adjustment to a new role. Ex.: marriage, new baby or new job • Some people are more predisposed to feel stress because they have a “high-stress lifestyle.” They may have a “Type A” personality, be perfectionistic and try to do too much. Use of caffeine can be problematic to some people & exaggerate how they experience stress. • Stress that goes unresolved or unrecognized or where there are an accumulation of multi-stressors at the same time can create anxiety attacks, panic and/or depression.

  6. Causes of stress • Everyone’s stressors are unique: • Financial • Daily hassles • Family related • Work related • Health related • Environmental/Socio-political

  7. Stressor #1: Financial • Growing debts • Impending retirement • Effects of a divorce • Job uncertainty • Loss of a second income • Mortgage/equity loan problems • Collection notices, bankruptcy, etc. • Loss/uncollection of child support

  8. Stressor #2: Daily Hassles • “Techno-stress”: cell phone dies, computer gets virus, identity theft, etc. • Traffic & commutation stress • Balancing demands of multiple roles: parent/employee/caregiver/etc. • Dealing with errors: bills/banks/etc. • Waiting for service

  9. Stressor #3: Family Related • Arguments with spouse/partner • A child returning home • Poor communication patterns among family members • Alcohol/Drug problems in spouse/self/child • Problems with in-laws • Recent death or long-term illness • Remarriage, stepchildren, blended families

  10. Stressor #4: Work Related • Downsizing, moving to new location, new responsibilities • Problems with co-workers or boss • Little recognition/lack of feedback • Too much work/time pressures • Unpleasant work environment • Lack of training necessary to do job

  11. Stressor #5: Health Related • Recent diagnosis of new illness • Chronic illness (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) requiring medical monitoring • Chronic pain (arthritis, headaches, back, neck, etc.) • Poor sleep • Too many medications to remember • Memory not as good • Aging issues (prostate, menopause, etc.)

  12. Stressor #6: Environmental/Sociopolitical Related • Terrorism awareness • New weather patterns, “wicked weather”, global warming • War/deployment of new troops • Economic changes at home in U.S. • New “world order” for our children • Stresses of travel post 9-11 • Pandemic flu, etc. • Pollution (noise, air, water, etc.) • Recent crises with fresh food-borne illnesses

  13. “Stress” is Not a New Phenomenon • Survivors of concentration camps • Growing up in “The Great Depression” • World Wars • Veterans of active combat • Survivors of major hurricanes, disasters, 9-11 • Survivors of major health crises (cancer, etc.)

  14. What is “Emotional Resilience?” • Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant stressors-family & relationship problems, health problems, downsizing, etc. It means “bouncing back.” • Resilience is not a trait that you do or do not have. It is something that is cultivated by looking at thoughts, feelings & actions. • Cognitive-behavioral therapy/cognitive restructuring

  15. Emotional Resilience is….. • The ability to plan, have goals and take steps to get to these goals • An unshakable, positive view of yourself taking into account your strengths & abilities • The ability to communicate effectively • The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses for the greater good • The ability to see a situation from a number of viewpoints, to develop “emotional elasticity” • The ability to take a step back from a volatile situation and say: “How would so&so handle this?” (someone you admire)

  16. How to Become More E.R. • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can change how you view the situation. Look beyond the present. Adopt a tendency to look “at the big picture” • Let more people into your life. Cultivate good connections. Accept help, support & suggestions from others. • Keep your “self-talk” positive. Self-talk is what we tell ourselves about ourselves—it can be positive or negative. • Let time help the situation. Keep things in perspective. Try to see the stressful situation in a broader context & keep a long-term view. Don’t blow things out of proportion or cast yourself as a victim of circumstances.

  17. Learning From Your Past • Have I been able to overcome great obstacles in my life? • What kinds of events are most stressful to me? • How do those events take a toll on me? • Who helps me the most when I reach out for support? Who “shoots me down?” • What have I learned about myself and my interactions with others during bad times? • What helps me feel more optimistic about the future?

  18. Great People…Great Lives • Abraham Lincoln struggled with chronic depression his whole life • Winston Churchill was a Leader & Great Thinker during World War II • Who are the Great Thinkers/Role Models who have influenced your own life? How do they speak to you? Do they carry a larger message?

  19. Avoiding Self-Sabotage • Disentangle from toxic relationships which drain you of your energy • Avoid bad habits (alcohol, drugs, etc.) which will keep you off-balance from your bigger picture. Ways that helped you to cope as a younger person may no longer work & can actually worsen your reactions to stress. • Do a tune-up on your health and/or sleep • Consider getting a ___ Anniversary Marital Check-Up • Avail yourself of holistic approaches to stress-relief (reiki, massage, exercise, etc.) • Realize that as you age, your ability to handle stress may diminish. Eliminate sources of stress where it is feasible to do so. • Cultivate a sense of humor and strive to be optimistic.

  20. The Top 8 Sources of Happiness(Can we still be happy despite stress in our lives?) • Relationships with your children 77% • Friends 76% • Contributing to others’ lives 75% • Relationship with spouse/partner 73% • Feeling of control over life/destiny 66% • Leisure time activities 64% • Relationship with parents 63% • Religious/spiritual life & worship 62% Source: Time Magazine 1/17/05

  21. Some Tips to Control Stress • Minimize negativity in your life. If the p.m. news makes you upset before you go to bed, avoid it. • Make a “de-clutter day” every month so that you will be able to find things & operate in a serene environment. • Nurture your self regularly with good sleep, fresh air, exercise and good friends. • Maintain a “big picture of your life” perspective. Think: “this too shall pass.” • Remember: if you cannot eliminate a stressor, you must develop an alternate way of thinking about the stressor.

  22. Your BNL EAP • 24/7 telephonic/crisis assistance at: 1-800-327-2182 • Self-assessments, library of topics, referrals to network providers, free legal/financial consults. Go to: You have 1-5 free visits per household member/per year/ per identified problem. • Internal-BNL EAP Manager: Nancy Losinno, X 4567.

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