Stress Management Series
“Understanding Stress–Study
Resources”
(SL#88)

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

For Reflection and Action:
The following resources are intended to provide additional assistance
in your efforts to identify and understand how stress has come into your life,
pulled up a chair, and settled down to stay for a while–welcome or not. You
may find many of the following insights reflected in SL#87 or elsewhere in this
series of articles. Make note of your personal reflections and action as this
material relates specifically to stress expressed in your life and leadership
planning. Review this article until you can summarize “stress” in
your life and how you respond.

1. Study Resource: Stress Warning Signals

A review abstract by Lloyd Elder from Part 4, pp. 175-285 of The Wellness
Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Maintaining Health and Treating Stress-Related
Illness
, edited by Herbert Benson, M.D. and Eileen M. Stuart, R.N., M.S.;
a Fireside Book published by Simon & Schuster; New York, 1992.

This book, resulting from 25 years of scientific research and clinical practice
at the Harvard Medical School, seeks to combine the best of what you can do
to enhance your health and well-being with the marvels of modern scientific
health care.

Part 4, “Stress Management” (pp 175-285), is composed of six chapters:
10. Managing Stress; 11. How Thoughts Affect Health; 12. Feelings, Moods, and
Attitudes; 13. Coping and Problem-Solving; 14. Communicating; and 15. Jest ‘n’
Joy.

Stress is part of our lives; any change is stressful because change requires
us to make adaptations. What causes stress in one person can be an exciting
challenge for another. This resource admits to using “stress” in
the common usage as “distress”–the negative cycle of chronic or
excessive stress that reduces coping and performance. However, “stress-hardiness”
emphasizes the positive characteristics of stress such as control, challenge,
and commitment. One psychiatrist advocates the “five L’s of success,”
of health and happiness: Learn, Labor, Love, Laugh, Let go.

The negative stress cycle can be avoided in the first place, but is difficult
to interrupt: stress accumulates . . . activates the “fight or flight”
response . . . causes stress symptoms either physical (e.g. muscle tension,
pain) and/or psychological (e.g. anxiety, worry) . . . in turn increases stress.
Stress warning signals may differ from one person to another, but some are common.
From p. 182 of The Wellness Book:

 
Physical Symptoms
 


Headaches


Indigestion


Stomach Aches


Tight Neck, Shoulders


Sweaty Palms


Sleep Difficulties


Dizziness


Back Pain


Racing Heart


Restlessness


Tiredness


Ringing in Ears

 
Behavioral Symptoms
 


Excess Smoking


Bossiness


Compulsive Gum Chewing


Attitude Critical of Others


Grinding of Teeth at Night


Overuse of Alcohol


Compulsive Eating


Inability to Get Things Done

 

 
Emotional Symptoms
 


Crying


Nervousness, Anxiety


Boredom– Feeling of No Meaning


Edginess– Ready to Explode


Feeling Powerless to Change Things


Overwhelming Sense of Pressure


Anger

 


Loneliness


Unhappiness for No Reason


Easily Upset

 

 
Cognitive Sympoms
 


Trouble Thinking Clearly


Forgetfulness


Lack of Creativity


Memory Loss


Inability to Make Decisions


Thoughts of Running Away


Constant Worry


Loss of Sense of Humor

 

Reflection
Do any of these stress earnings seem familiar to you?
Check the ones you experience when under stress.
Are there other stress warning signals you experience?

2. Study Resource: Symptoms of Anxiety
A study abstract prepared
by Lloyd Elder from an Internet article by Archibald D. Hart, Ph.D., presented
on www.troubledwith.com.

Dr. Archibald reports that anxiety symptoms fall into three categories: physiological,
cognitive, and emotional. If you count the following symptoms that apply to
you, you may get an idea of your stress level. The checklist is designed to
communicate a variety of symptoms; the more symptoms you experience, the more
likely you may need to explore treatment for anxiety-related problems. Now,
the symptoms list:

  • Physiological symptoms
    Do you feel:

    • Weak all over?
    • Rapid, pounding heartbeat or palpitations?
    • Tightness around your chest?
    • Hyperventilation (a feeling that you cannot get enough air)?
    • Periodic dizziness and sweating?
    • Muscle tension, aches or tremors?
    • Chronic fatigue?
  • Cognitive symptoms
    Do you think to yourself:

    • I can’t carry on. I’ve got to get out of here.
    • What if I make a fool of myself?
    • People are looking at me all the time.
    • I’m having a heart attack.
    • I’m going to faint.
    • I’m going crazy.
    • I can’t go on alone; no one will help me.
    • I can’t go out; I will lose control.
    • I feel confused and can’t remember things.
  • Emotional symptoms
    Do you think to yourself:

    • I’m full of fears that I can’t get out of my mind.
    • I feel like something terrible is going to happen.
    • I worry excessively.
    • I feel uneasy and alone a lot of the time.
    • I often feel isolated, lonely, down in the dumps and depressed.
    • I feel I have no control over what happens to me.
    • I feel embarrassed, rejected and criticized.
    • I often feel like screaming with anger.

Reflection:
Note your personal reflections, assessment, application, and action planning.
Review this article until you can summarize “stress” in your life
and how you respond

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© 2008 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