From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Planning your stress management techniques: 2009

As we enter into this new year, it is common to experience mood swings between optimism and pessimism. All around us, friends and family members struggle with issues ranging from relationship problems, medical concerns, financial worries, career changes, legal problems, addictions and a wide variety of ethical challenges. Given the events of the day, it is very likely that life is about to change for all of us and we will need to learn new ways to cope. Close by, rest assured that your children and other children, will be watching and learning from how you behave. Since we are likely to find that the old rules seemed to have changed, it may be wise to consider new ways to cope and new strategies for staying afloat.

·        We must re-establish the value of honesty. Internationally known Counselor, Dr. Tom Sweeney points to studies where two-thirds of undergraduate students acknowledged cheating in school. According to Dr. Sweeney, “cheating has become epidemic at the college and high school levels.” He states that somewhere along the line, younger generations have picked up the message that the end result of a better grade achieved through cheating is more important that the  honest effort put forth to learn as much as possible. Dr. Sweeney reminds us about the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from achieving something worthwhile, regardless of whether there are tangible rewards.

·        We must re-establish the value of good sportsmanship. I grew up in Miami playing a lot of front yard softball and sidewalk box-ball. We rarely kept score, but when we played we gave it our all. Memories of those days are accompanied by the phrase, it’s not about whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Today, many children grow up believing just the opposite. They may belong to leagues and traveling teams where the competition is intense. Eventually, our children will lose a game or an opportunity. We must teach our children how both to lose gracefully and win with grace and humility. Not surprising, our children take notes on how we bounce back from adversity. Through your actions, teach your children how to pick themselves up when they fall down!

·        Teach your children to be resourceful. As we head into a period of financial uncertainty, there will be more opportunities for the family to talk about money. Children who approach the world with a sense of entitlement may find it harder to understand when the family is cutting back on expenses. But this is a very important lesson for children to learn. Dr. Sweeney refers to the “hover generation” which refers to young people who have grown up being dependent upon an adult who takes care of their problems and clears the path of obstacles. While it is often easier to solve our children’s problems for them, we do them a greater favor when we teach them how to come up with their own solutions and follow through to success

·        Expect to re-evaluate your career satisfaction on a regular basis. Many adults are unemployed and that is a problem. But some folks are gainfully employed and suffer chronic dissatisfaction, and that is a problem too. Just being employed is not enough to make people happy. Even when you’re good at something, if you’re not happy, it’s going to be hard to get out of bed in the morning. Problems can arise from the social environment at work (such as workplace bullying or lack of appreciation), the physical environment (such as heavy lifting) or the administrative environment (threats of unemployment or stressful schedules) where you work.

Each of us owes it to ourselves to upgrade our employment skills, get counseling to explore other career avenues, and always have a back-up plan for alternative employment. Work takes up too much of our lives to stay in an unhappy job. With easy accessibility to on-line learning, local technical schools and colleges, the idea of multiple careers over the course of a lifetime is already “the new norm”. Just as our tastes and interests change over time, we should not be surprised when our career interests shift….either by choice or necessity. Whichever way the future unfolds, we will adapt, we will adjust, and all the while, our children will be learning from us. 

©Copyright, 2009, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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