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Complex Thoughts

Stress Management

Campus leaders often find themselves stressed-out. These tips may help you better manage your stress levels. If your stress level is still causing you problems, consider stopping at Counseling Services (715-836-5521).

SOME CAUSES OF STRESS

  • Lack of stimulation or challenge (underload)
  • Too much demand or stimulation (overload)
  • Environmental influences — too much noise, excessive heat or cold, air quality, crowding, etc.
  • Death of a family member or friend
  • Unsatisfactory personal relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Underemployment (unable to find a job)
  • Illness or injury
  • Negative emotions
  • Change of any kind, positive or negative
  • Irrational thinking
  • Any threatening situation

SOME SYMPTOMS OF STRESS

  • Difficulty falling asleep, restlessness
  • Perspiring more than usual
  • Upset stomach or stomach pain
  • Feeling confused, inability to concentrate
  • Muscle tension — stiff neck, clenched jaw, aching back or shoulders
  • Feeling depressed
  • Lack of energy, lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Relationship problems
  • Weight gain or loss, change in appetite
  • Boredom
  • Feeling frustrated, irritability
  • Cold hands
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • General anxious feeling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased susceptibility to colds and other minor infections

THE AAABCs OF STRESS MANAGEMENT

Stress management is a decision-making process. Alter it, Avoid it, or Accept it by Building your resistance or Changing your perceptions.

  • Alter implies removing the source of stress by changing something (i.e., problem solving, direct communication, organizing, planning and time management.
  • Avoid implies removing oneself from the stressful situation or figuring out how not to get there in the first place (i.e., say no, delegate, let go, withdraw, and recognize your own limitations).
  • Accept involves equipping oneself physically and mentally for stress by…
    • Building resistance, increasing your tolerance to stress. Physically, build resistance to stress through proper diet, regular exercise, systematic relaxation, and adequate sleep. Mentally, build resistance to stress through positive affirmation, taking time for mental health, and getting clear about goals, values and priorities. Socially, build resistance to stress through support systems, investing in relationships, clear communication, and intimacy. Spiritually, build resistance to stress through mediation, prayer and worship.
    • Changing perceptions. Change unrealistic expectations and irrational beliefs, such as “I should succeed at everything I try.” Build self esteem and cultivate a positive attitude.

INSTANT STRESS RELIEVERS

  • Take six deep breaths — Inhale, hold for five counts and exhale through your mouth.
  • Visit Hawaii — or any other pleasant scene from your past. Visualize the scene in detail by stimulating all your senses. In just a few minutes you can recapture the pleasure of actually being there.
  • Hug someone — Four hugs a day will do a lot to calm you down. Hug your dog. Hug your significant other. Hug your best friend.

ADAPTED FROM COUGAR CLUES, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA–MORRIS, AND THUNDAR BOLTS, NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.