ISSUE 41 ISSN 1712-468
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Stress: Mind over Matter?

Today, as I write this, I am stressed. In fact, I would say most of my province is stressed.

For the last 40 years I have watched my hometown hockey team squander opportunity after opportunity to win the Holy Grail of Hockey—The Stanley Cup!

It seems no different this year. After cruising to finish the regular season first in the standings,I watched them perform at the top of their game one night, only to come out the following night with a performance that would make a pee wee hockey coach shudder. As a result, we must play Game 7 of a best of 7 after we led the series 2 games to 0.

So I am stressed. To help combat that feeling, I am heading to the gym to watch the first period. At least that way, depending on the early minutes of the game, I have someone close by who knows CPR!

One of the definitions of stress from is “importance or significance attached to a thing.”

While that is their definition of stress, I think it is the cause of stress. When the importance of a thing rises in my mind, the more anxiety or worry I tend to emit in hopes of a positive outcome . . . thus the increase in my stress level.

I prefer to define stress as anxiety, pressure, and worry that comes as a result of the importance put on an item.

Let's set aside a Stanley Cup Championship for a minute and think about other areas in our lives that have importance or significance attached to them.

If I were to ask you to come up with a list, I am sure it would look something like this.

  • Your family
  • Your health
  • Your work
  • Your finances

I suggest those really are the important areas of your life, and probably in that order.

Yet within each of those categories, there are varying levels of importance.

  • Is the length of your son's hair a big deal?
  • Is getting to the gym 6 to 7 days a week so important that you sacrifice other relationships or even your health? There is a new health term these days: Boomeritis. According to doctors, an increased number of Boomers are showing up in medical offices because they have overstressed their muscles at the gym.
  • Do you really have to work 12 hours per day, 6 days a week, to stay on top of things at work? Your fatigue will have a negative impact on your productivity that creates a vicious cycle of even more work and more stress.
  • Do you want to live your life as a cheapwad who never offers to take a friend out for coffee? Will that extra $1000 really matter when you're 95?

Dr. Art Hister on CKNW radio and Global TV has talked about people so calorie-conscious, they went through life counting every calorie. At every meal, they were stressed that they had overaten. They lived to 95.

Hister compared them to others who simply ate in moderation, enjoyed their mealtimes, and ended up dying at 90. Art wondered if the extra 5 years, at that age level, was worth all the stress and turmoil the calorie-counting had caused.

Remember the definition: The importance or significance attached to a thing. Who attaches importance or significance to a thing? Well, sometimes others are doing the attaching.

  • Your spouse reminds you of your anniversary.
  • Your doctor emphasizes your need to drop 20 pounds.
  • Your client puts an end-of-week deadline on your work for her.
  • Your bank sends you a past-due notice.

More often than not, it is our own choice to place more importance or significance on a thing than we need to do. As a result, we needlessly increase our anxiety, our pressure, and our worry.

Unfortunately, if left unchecked, those negative feelings can lead to serious health issues. Many people who allow unnecessary stress into their lives turn to unhealthy coping strategies.

  • Poor eating habits
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Bullying
  • Isolation
  • A variety of personality disorders

If we are to live our lives to the fullest, we must learn to cope with the stress we have in our lives. We need to learn what is truly important and significant as opposed to things that are not.

I admit it's not always easy to pinpoint what is causing the stress or stress-like symptoms in our lives.

Well, the good news is that CRG has an excellent tool to assist you: The Stress Indicator and Health Planner.

I remember one client who not only used that tool with his employees in a development workshop, he invited the employees' family members to participate. His reasoning was that often, work gets blamed for the stress in someone's life when, in reality, the stress is coming from issues outside the workplace. It was critical for the family members to understand that, to help their loved one.

The Stress Indicator and Health Planner is a professionally developed 24-page self-administered and self-scored instrument. Responding to 120 questions, you establish your stress and wellness levels in 5 specific sections.

  • Personal Distress (observable through physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms)
  • Interpersonal Stress
  • Wellness (the assessment measures nutritional and health practices)
  • Time Management
  • Occupational Stress

Armed with your results, you progress to Part 2 of the assessment, the Health Planner—12 pages of specific strategies, techniques, and action items where you can make positive changes for improved health, performance, and quality of life.

To obtain your personal copy, simply click Stress Indicator and Health Planner.

A Side Note . . .

I wrote this article the day of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals 2011.

To heed my own advice, I realize the only reason I was feeling anxious, worried, and pressured was because of the importance I was putting on a game. I had zero control over the outcome. I guess I should have simply relaxed and let go. (It's going to take more than good advice to quench 40 years of sports fever!)

Game 7 is long over. The series was lost and a city's reputation damaged—a strong example of the harm that stress can cause when it's not properly managed.


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