From Dr. Jane's Notebook


Stress: Your Personal Barometer


At home, our goal is to nurture, nourish, love, feed, clothe, drive and play with all of the people in our family. On the job, we are faced with many of the same tasks... trying to keep things up-to-date, organized, free of conflict, efficient, and excellent. Tasks fall hard on our shoulders. A lot is expected of us... and we expect a lot of ourselves. Stress management is a problem that dates back to the beginning of time.

How Stress Develops. Imagine that you're a Cave person. You come home to your cave and there waiting for you is a large bear. Immediately, your body prepares for "fight or flight". You either have to fight off the bear or escape danger quickly. As such, your body readies itself by increasing your heart rate, increasing your rate of breathing, increasing blood pressure and muscle tension, your pupils dilate, you begin to sweat... and then, you are ready to fight that bear or get out of his way.

Either way, once the danger is over, all of our body responses are supposed to return to a normal resting state (with all stress diminished). However, for many of us, we start fighting "bears" in the morning and then one bear after another shows up, and we never get back to that relaxed state. We stay in a state of chronic tension and stress that just keeps building. Fear and anxiety about future "bears" keep our stress levels fueled.

For most of us, there are three types of "bears": Physical mental, and interpersonal.

So what is Stress Management? I prefer to think in terms of Stress Reduction and Stress Prevention. Many of us are over-loaded by things that we are expected to do... and by things we expect of ourselves. When we get overloaded, we sometimes start making "stupid" mistakes. When this happens to me, I call it "leaking". (forgetting someone's birthday, forgetting to return phone calls, being late to pick up a child, forgetting an appointment, leaving home without my briefcase, losing things, etc.)

To avoid "leaking", each of our areas of stress needs to be reconsidered; to prevent stress, we need to take better care of ourselves. Each of us must monitor our stress levels and take measures to correct the stressful situations in our lives... one by one.

ęCopyright, 1994, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated November 1, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.