Life is always changing. If we cope with the many changes we face, we have the opportunity to grow with the situation rather than be overcome by it. We have hope and feel empowered or we feel helpless. Dr. Kobasa and her colleagues studied the difference between the two extremes, growing with a situation and feeling hopeful or being overwhelmed and feeling helpless. Dr. Kobasa determined that individuals dealing with great stress could be protected by a combination of three attitudes which describe a "stress hardy" person.
1) Commitment - allowing yourself to be involved in and curious about the situation and how it can become an opportunity to learn about yourself.
2) Control - believing that you have the power to influence events and the willingness to take action for your best.
3) Challenge - believing that life changes can promote personal growth.
Changing thoughts about events or self can help to alter your stress reactions. Albert Ellis, found of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy noted that it is not the event we react to but our interpretation of the event.
Many factors contribute to the causation of stress overload; therefore interventions address seven basic levels:
Appropriate Nutrition and sleep
Identify what you are feeling
Acknowledge and express those feelings
Face your fears, do not avoid them
Engage in healthy coping behaviors
Identify and counter destructive thinking
BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND
Develop positive affirmations and use them
Learn to assertively communicate your needs and feelings to others
Learn to set boundaries
Develop a more positive sense of self
Set and work toward concrete goals
Validate yourself with nurturing self-talk
EXISTENTIAL AND SPIRITUAL
Identify your purpose and passions to find greater meaning
Develop your talents, actualizing your unrealized potential
Lasting management of stress will typically occur when you are willing to make changes in the above levels, exercising control over your thoughts and taking positive action steps, and believing life challenges can lead to personal growth. Learn to be "stress hardy" and become empowered and hopeful.
Marcia Overstreet, LPC