"Speaker, Corporate Trainer, Author, Entertainer "

Managing Post Holiday Stress

Various research studies show that the 45 days from Thanksgiving to just past the New Year seems to be the most stressful for many individuals. The pressure from family commitments or being alone during the time from Thanksgiving to New Years is the roughest time of the year. Let's look at some ways to deal with stress - not only post-holiday issues, but also other times throughout the year.

What causes people to react differently in stressful situations? Why does everybody's definition of stress differ? There is a great analogy that I like to use in my workshops: Stress is like a violin string! The more stress that you apply to the string (tighten the string to bring it into tune), you achieve beautiful music. If the string is loose (no stress applied), you hear a terrible squeaking noise. However, there is a fine line between the beautiful music (just the right amount of stress), and the breaking point where the string snaps (too much stress). We all know that we need some amount of stress in our life's to keep us motivated and achieving our goals. It's that point on our personal violin string that we make the beautiful music - we are happy, motivated, and productive.

Human beings act/react in the same manner as the violin string. Each of us has that breaking point, and each of us operates differently under various amounts of stress. Why? There is one word that I use to sum-up this debated topic - PERCEPTION. Each of us has heard the age-old adage about the three L's in real estate - Location, Location, Location. The same significance can be transferred to the three P's in stress management - Perception, Perception, Perception. The individualized unique manner in which you view a situation will determine whether it will affect you as a negative stressor or a positive stressor. And Yes, there is good (positive stress) and not good (negative stress), but it is all a matter of perception. Remember, it is that fine line between the perfectly tuned violin string playing beautiful music and the point that the string snaps. A good example might be: We could be neighbors and both of our basements flood during a rain storm. We both have basements with 3 feet of water of standing water. You might turn that situation (stressor) into a nightmare - sick to your stomach, headache, not sleeping; all due to the water in your basement. I turn the same stressor into a positive perception by saying, "What a great time to re-decorate the basement, something I have wanted to do for a long time."

That is perception! The water damage will be the motivating force that I need to start the re-model process. While with my neighbor it might be the motivating force that causes high blood pressure, an ulcer, or one of the many other illnesses associated with stress. Another good analogy is that of boiling water. Remember back to your days of high school physics and the fact that the boiling point of water changes with altitude? The same applies to stress. YOUR boiling point changes with ATTITUDE (perception)!

Remember you are responsible for your own well-being. You have to watch for the signs of stress and burnout and take the necessary healing actions when you feel things are reaching your boiling point. The best way to fight stress is to have a positive attitude and perception on the issues around you. There is much benefit to positive attitude and positive thinking. PMA (positive mental attitude) is a huge book, CD, and seminar business because it works! There are many alternative activities that you can incorporate into your daily schedule which will reduce your breaking point / boiling point from the influx of daily stressors. Self hypnosis, meditation, creative visualization, aromatherapy, acupuncture, sleep, good nutrition, prayer, reflexology, massage, humor, exercise, and the list goes on . . . .

Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson have developed this great test for burnout to see if you are nearing, or past your boiling point. Please be honest with your answers. Apply the following numeric score to each of the 21 statements:
1 = Never 2 = Once in a great while 3 = Rarely 4 = Sometimes 5 = Often 6 = Usually 7 = Always

Here are the statements:

    1. Being tired
    2. Feeling depressed
    3. Having a good day
    4. Being physically exhausted
    5. Being emotionally exhausted
    6. Being happy
    7. Being 'wiped-out'
    8. Can't take it anymore
    9. Being unhappy
    10. Feeling rundown
    11. Feeling trapped
    12. Feeling worthless
    13. Being weary
    14. Being troubled
    15. Feeling disillusioned, resentful
    16. Weak, susceptible to illness
    17. Feeling hopeless
    18. Feeling rejected
    19. Feeling optimistic
    20. Feeling energetic
    21. Feeling anxious

To compute your score:
1. Add the values written for the following items: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21 ______
2. Add the values written for the following items: 3, 6, 19, 20 ______
3. Subtract your answer in line #2 from the number 32 _______
4. Add your answer in steps 1 and 3 ______
5. Divide your answer by 21. This is your burnout score _______

If your score is between 2 and 3, you are doing well.
If your score s between 3 and 4, you should examine your life and evaluate your priorities to consider possible changes.
If your score is higher than 4, you are experiencing burnout. Create a plan of action to do something about it.
If your score is higher than 5, you are in an acute state and need immediate help.

> Home

Copyright 2001-2011 Ken Owens. All rights reserved.