Stress Management Series
“Managing Stress: Study
Resources”
(SL#95)

by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack®
Vol. 11 – Stress Management

For Reflection and Action: These materials are related to and expand the examination of managing stress, especially as it affects the common life of most of us. You may be able to apply these findings, not only to your life, but to any work or profession that you pursue. I have selected these Study Resources, but will not be adding specific application–that is left for you as you pursue reflection and action planning.

  • The continuing question is: “What specifically will you do about stress in your life and work?”
  • How would three to five people significant to your life and ministry advise you to pursue stress coping and management?
  • Write up your thoughts; think it over; put it into action.
    _____________________

#1 Study Resource: How Stress-Resistant Are You?
quoted from The Wellness Center Newsletter, Belmont University, Fall
1995

Self-assessment questionnaires enable us to examine our current lifestyle, and then objectively measure behaviors and attitudes against established norms.

Instructions: Treating a score of “1” as something that is almost always true and “5” as something that is virtually never true about your stress reactions, circle the appropriate responses for each of the following questions:

1. I eat at least one hot, balanced meal a day.
1
2
3
4
5
2. I get 7 to 8 hours of sleep at least 4 nights a week.
1
2
3
4
5
3. I give and receive affection regularly.
1
2
3
4
5
4. I have at least one relative within 50 miles of home on whom I can rely.
1
2
3
4
5
5. I exercise vigorously at least twice weekly.
1
2
3
4
5
6. I limit myself to less than half a pack of cigarettes a day.
1
2
3
4
5
7. I take fewer than five alcoholic drinks a week.
1
2
3
4
5
8. I am the appropriate weight for my height and build.
1
2
3
4
5
9. My income covers my basic expenses.
1
2
3
4
5
10. I get strength from my religious beliefs.
1
2
3
4
5
11. I regularly attend social activities.
1
2
3
4
5
12. I have a network of close friends and acquaintances.
1
2
3
4
5
13. I have one or more friends to confide in about personal matters.
1
2
3
4
5
14. I am in good health (including eyesight, hearing, teeth).
1
2
3
4
5
15. I am able to speak openly about my feelings when angry or worried.
1
2
3
4
5
16. I discuss domestic problems–chores and money, for example, with the members
of my household.
1
2
3
4
5
17. I have fun at least once a week.
1
2
3
4
5
18. I can organize my time effectively.
1
2
3
4
5
19. I drink fewer than three cups of a caffeinated beverage per day.
1
2
3
4
5
20. I take some quiet time for myself during the day.
1
2
3
4
5
Scoring: Add up all the points you have circled.
Interpretation: 20-45 You probably have excellent resistance
to stress.

46-55 You are somewhat vulnerable to stress.

56-100 You are seriously vulnerable to stress.

Source: Test developed by psychologists Lyle H. Miller and Alma Dell Smith.
Reproduced in C. L. Mee, Jr., et.al. Managing Stress from Morning to Night, Alexandria, VA; Time-Life books, 1987, p. 27.

_____________________

#2. Study Resource: “101 Ways to Cope with Stress”
Used by permission from Baptist Center for Health & Wellness

• Get up 15 minutes earlier

• Prepare for the morning the night before

• Avoid tight fitting clothes • Avoid relying on chemical aids

• Set appointments ahead

• Don’t rely on your memory . . . write it down

• Practice preventative maintenance

• Make duplicate keys

• Say “NO” more often

• Set priorities in your life

• Avoid negative people

• Use time wisely

• Simplify meal times

• Always make copies of important papers

• Anticipate your needs

• Repair anything that doesn’t work properly

• Ask for help with jobs you dislike

• Break large tasks into bite size portions

• Look at problems as challenges

• Look at challenges differently

• Unclutter your life

• Smile

• Be prepared for rain

• Tickle a baby

• Pet a friendly dog/cat

• Don’t know all the answers

• Look for the silver lining

• Say something nice to someone

• Teach a kid to fly a kite

• Walk in the rain

• Schedule play time into every day

• Take a bubble bath

• Be aware of the decisions you make

• Believe in you

• Stop saying negative things to yourself

• Visualize yourself winning

• Develop your sense of humor

• Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today

• Have goals for yourself

• Dance a jig

• Say hello to a stranger

• Ask a friend for a hug

• Look up at the stars

• Practice breathing slowly

• Learn to whistle a tune

• Read a poem

• Listen to a symphony

• Watch a ballet

• Read a story curled up in bed

• Do a brand new thing

• Stop a bad habit

• Buy yourself a flower

• Take stock of your achievements

• Find support from others

• Ask someone to be your “vent-partner”

• Do it today

• Work at being cheerful and optimistic

• Put safety first

• Do everything in moderation

• Pay attention to your appearance

• Strive for excellence NOT perfection

• Stretch your limits each day

• Look at a work of art

• Hum a jingle

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Plant a tree

• Feed the birds

• Practice grace under pressure

• Stand up and stretch

• Always have a plan “B”

• Learn a new doodle

•Memorize a joke

• Be responsible for your feelings

• Learn to meet your own needs

• Become a better listener

• Know your limitations and let other know them too

• Tell someone to have a good day in pig latin

• Throw a paper airplane

• Exercise every day

• Learn the words to a new song

• Get to work early

• Clean out a closet

• Play patty cake with a toddler

• Go on a picnic

• Take a different route to work

• Leave work early (with permission)

• Put air freshener in your car

• Watch a movie and eat popcorn

• Write a note to a far away friend

• Go to a ball game and scream

• Cook a meal and eat it by candlelight

• Recognize the importance of unconditional love

• Give yourself permission to get professional help if you need it

• Keep a journal

• Practice a monster smile

• Remember you always have options

• Have a support network of people, places and things

• Quit trying to “fix” other people

• Get enough sleep

• Talk less and listen more

• Freely praise other people

• P.S. Relax, take each day one at a time . . . you have the rest of your life to live.

Baptist Center For Health & Wellness • 2000 Church
Street; Nashville, TN 37236 • (615) 329-5433

_____________________

#3. Study Resource: Stress Management–A Preventionist Approach
from The Stress Myth by Richard E. Ecker; Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1985
A review abstract prepared by Curtis B. Freed, MSN, LPC, Director of Counseling, First Baptist Church, Nashville, TN

In The Stress Myth, Dr. Ecker identifies a different approach to stress management. Based on research, conducting workshops and case studies, the author describes a “preventionist” approach as opposed to the “interventionist” approach so popular for the last four decades. Look for the Ecker twelve laws
and the biblical basis which undergird his “preventionist” approach to stress.

  • Thesis: Stress is a myth. This myth is based on the belief that stress is inevitable and “exists primarily because the true meaning of stress has become lost in an abundance of alternative definitions.”
  • Definition: Stress is not a happening, an experience or force in the external world. It is a physical response that the human body invokes in order to deal with a perceived threat to stability. Stress is an adaptive response to an individual interpretation of an experience or relationship.
  • Purpose: The author’s purpose is twofold: 1) to develop insights and understanding to confront unwanted stress, 2) to show how God’s power can help us engage the preventive approach to stress.
  • Stability: Every individual develops a set of beliefs about our world and a set of values and guiding principles that provide emotional stability when subjected to uncertainty.
  • Premises:
    • Whenever the stress response is appropriate to the body’s physical needs, there is no excess stress and no stress exhaustion. Stress prevention eliminates the need for stress intervention.
    • That “every individual can, through faith, commitment and practice, learn to react to life in ways that do not provoke excess stress.”
    • Fundamentally, stress-motivated behavior is a plan for control and power. Control over the individual is seen as the cause of stress.
  • Neither life experiences nor relationships with others are ever the stressor.  They may be the source, but never the stressor. It is our perception of the experience, event or the other person and our response that becomes the stressor.
  • If we understand where the stress comes from, we will experience two benefits:
    • We will improve our ability to deal constructively with other people.
    • We will be able to assess our own stress reactions and take steps toward stress prevention.
  • The author differs with the interventionists–those who advise us to learn relaxation techniques or prescribe some medication to help us deal with stress.
    Ecker proposes a preventionist approach.
  • Prevention: The creative alternative to so-called inevitable stress. Prevention eliminates the need for intervention. It frees us from unwanted stress.
  • Ecker’s Laws: The author gives twelve laws that provide the construct for his preventionist approach. Several are given here:
    • If the stress response is greater than the need, the perception is always wrong.
    • Excess stress promotes excess stress.
    • It is impossible to control the events of life.
    • Stress will not alter the outcome.
  • Four rules to implement the preventionist approach:
    • Understand what stress is.
    • Accept the responsibility for your own stress.
    • Find out the real identity of the source.
    • Get in touch with your own identity. A person’s self-image is a product of his or her belief system. For the Christian, self-image has its roots in God’s Word and in creation.
  • Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things . . .

_____________________

#4. Study Resource: Humor in Stress Management
A review abstract by Lloyd Elder from Stress Management: Practical Techniques for You
developed and edited by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D., (A.B.D.)
Baptist Mind/Body Medical Institute, Nashville, TN.

What Is Stress?
Stress is simply the body’s response to change. Everyone undergoes stress to some degree on a daily basis, but few of us know how to deal with it effectively.  Most of us try to avoid stress instead of realizing it can be a positive element in our daily lives if we develop the skills necessary to manage it constructively.  Because stress occurs daily and cannot be completely avoided, coping with it is a key to being healthy.

“Fight or Flight”
The biological response triggered by stress is called the “Fight or Flight Response.” It includes:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • increased rate of breathing
  • increased blood flow to the muscles
  • decreased blood flow to stomach
  • increased metabolism

The common denominator between these physical changes is that they prepare you for physical action. This involuntary response is a survival mechanism preparing us to meet a physical challenge (fight) or to escape from danger (to flee).

Illness Is Stress-Related
If your body experiences these fight or flight responses frequently or for long periods of time, illnesses such as heart attacks, ulcers or intestinal problems can develop. Doctors believe that up to 75% of an illness is stress-related.  Therefore, to reduce these long-term effects of unresolved stress, it is important to learn ways to handle stress effectively.

Stress – Neither Good Nor Bad
Stress is not negative. Stress is neutral. It is neither good nor bad. It is your response to a stressor (the thing that causes stress) that determines whether or not stress will be positive or negative for you.

Same Feelings – Different Interpretations
The physical responses (increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, etc.) are the same for both positive and negative stress. It is our interpretation of the situation as to whether we label the stress as “excitement,” “challenge,” or “fear” and “anxiety.”  We even have a different language for the two. If a stressor is labeled positive you might say that you have “butterflies in your stomach.” If the situation is negative for you, your response might be that it “wrenches your gut.” Same feeling – different interpretation.

Humor & Health – There Is a Connection Sources of Power
Laughter and humor are potential sources of power, creativity and health in our personal and professional lives. While not offered as a cure-all for every problem that exists, humor has a lot of positive possibilities for our daily
lives:

  • Humor makes life fun.
  • Humor can help us cope with problems.
  • Humor with a hint of playfulness is a safety valve for aggression and an
    acceptable means to express anger.
  • Humor offers perspective and balance.
  • Humor is a means of communication and creative expression.
  • Humor provides temporary relief from society’s restrictive regulations.
  • Humor is a way to express the truth even when truth is feared and repressed.
  • Humor is mentally and physically good for you.
  • Laughter affirms life and brings people together.
  • Humor often succeeds where other methods have failed.

Getting Started
Learning to use more humor requires practice. Here are some guidelines to help you get started.

  • Look for humor throughout your day; brighten your room or workspace.
  • Start a humor first-aid kit. Stock it with things that are funny to you–cartoons, jokes, greeting cards, a bottle of soap bubbles, comedy tapes.
  • Make time for fun. Schedule a 10-minute humor break every day.
  • Share laughter with those around you.
  • Laugh when you are low. Psychologist William James said, “We don’t laugh because we are happy–we’re happy because we laugh.”

Close this window

© 2009 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted
by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links
at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership