Stress Management 101

21 06 2011

A consistent barrier that gets us off track from our weight loss goals is stress. Unfortunately, unlike vacation or holidays, which are temporary and often positive stressors, life stress caused by work hassles and family dynamics are often a daily occurrence. How you manage these stressors can have a lot to do with both your physical and mental health, as well as your weight.
How do you cope with stress?

I’ve come to find over the last several years, and I’ve been “stressing” (haha) to the participants I talk with, that stress management is all about learning what you can control. In fact, there are two primary methods of coping that can be used when one is feeling stressed:
1. Problem-focused coping: This method is effective when you can identify action-oriented steps to  manage a problem that is causing stress. This might include specific behaviors such as working on time management skills, improving communication, gathering information, or problem solving. When a situation is open to change, then identifying what you can control and creating an action plan for improving things will often help you feel less stressed.
Unfortunately, situations are not always in our control, and sometimes there is nothing we can do about a problem that is causing us stress. In this case, another coping strategy can be used.

2. Emotion-focused coping: This method involves managing your emotional response to the problem that is causing stress. When there is nothing within your control about a situation, you can always control your reaction! Staying positive, monitoring your thoughts, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing are several ways to manage situations that cause stress but are not within your control to change.
The next time you feel stressed, take a moment and analyze what it is that is causing you stress; what is within your control about the situation? If there are no steps you can take to improve things, consider your reaction to the stressor – are you dwelling and feeling negatively even though there is nothing you can do about it? If so, work on seeing things from a different light and remind yourself that staying positive will help you overcome stress faster and feel better. And feeling better will help you stay on track with your weight loss goals!

Here are two different scenarios to help you practice. Think about what coping style(s) you would use in each situation, and what you can control and how.
– You recently gave a big proposal at work, but unfortunately the boss decided to go with someone else’s idea. This means you might not get the promotion you were hoping for.
– Your spouse’s work schedule is about to change, which will mean he or she can no longer help out with childcare until you get home. This will impact getting dinner prepared and ready on time.

These strategies will take a little time to master, but will help you learn to master the basics of Stress Management 101. We don’t control everything that happens to us in life, but we certainly control how we respond. How will you choose to respond next time?




One response

21 06 2011

This was great! I needed this today.

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