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Stress The Goodthe BadAnd the Ugly Stress is a bad thingright? Stress is a bad thingright? Well, it sure can be. Well, it sure can be. BUT it is one of.

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Presentation on theme: "Stress The Goodthe BadAnd the Ugly Stress is a bad thingright? Stress is a bad thingright? Well, it sure can be. Well, it sure can be. BUT it is one of."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Stress The Goodthe BadAnd the Ugly Stress is a bad thingright? Stress is a bad thingright? Well, it sure can be. Well, it sure can be. BUT it is one of the reasons why you are BUT it is one of the reasons why you are here today, and reading this screen. Without a stress response to times of danger and threat, homo sapiens may not have survived as a species. As a matter of fact, stress is sometimes a As a matter of fact, stress is sometimes a very good thing! Let Me Explain…

3 Stress Can be quite useful if you want to… Stress Can be quite useful if you want to… Perform at your peak level. Perform at your peak level. Fight for your life. Fight for your life. Run for your life. Run for your life. Do something super. Do something super. Perform at your peak level. Fight for your life. Run for your life. Do something super. Let Me Illustrate… Let Me Illustrate… Put Quite simply stress is your mind-body preparing for an activity that requires extreme, i.e. greater than normal, energy/performance. The ultimate would be a life or death situation. Except then, we dont call it stress any more wed use terms like fight or flight, adrenaline rush, etc.

4 You could think of stress as a general arousal levelmental and physicalon a scale of 1 – 10. A zero would not be desirable, or attainable (that would mean you were dead). A ten would not be desirable in most circumstances in life, but it might be, in very extreme situations…

5 For example, if you wanted to compete with some of the worlds greatest athletes, you might want a somewhat greater than average arousal level, say 6 – 8. For example, if you wanted to compete with some of the worlds greatest athletes, you might want a somewhat greater than average arousal level, say 6 – 8.

6 Or if you were fighting to save the human race, you might want an even greater arousal level, say 7 – 9. Or if you were fighting to save the human race, you might want an even greater arousal level, say 7 – 9.

7 Or if you were running for your life, you might even want to get close to a 10…

8 The pumped-up-ness can be used to take positive action. (Psychologists and other scientists actually have funny terms for this, but theyre not very funny.) The pumped-up-ness can be used to take positive action. (Psychologists and other scientists actually have funny terms for this, but theyre not very funny.) When action is over, that is a cue When action is over, that is a cue for your mind-body to wind down to a more useable level of arousal. When action is over, that is a cue When action is over, that is a cue for your mind-body to wind down to a more useable level of arousal. You would be glad for every ounce of your arousal if you were fighting to save humanity or running for your life. The difference between this type of arousal and the bad kind what we usually call stressa couple of simple, yet VERY crucial elements. In a truly dire situation:

9 If you were trying to jump higher than most mere mortals, you might gear up to a 9 or even 10 when in the act. Afterwards, youd experience some release, and calm down to a lower level, say maybe 6, that fits the demands required by a lower-demand situation once the action is complete. If you were trying to jump higher than most mere mortals, you might gear up to a 9 or even 10 when in the act. Afterwards, youd experience some release, and calm down to a lower level, say maybe 6, that fits the demands required by a lower-demand situation once the action is complete.

10 Now this is where it gets BAD! Now this is where it gets BAD! If your mind-body is geared up to take extreme action, and there is nowhere to run or jump, you get… If your mind-body is geared up to take extreme action, and there is nowhere to run or jump, you get…

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12 And this is where it gets UGly! And this is where it gets UGly! If your mind-body If your mind-body is prepared for battle, and there is no way to fight or nowhere to run, you get… If your mind-body is prepared for battle, and there is no way to fight or nowhere to run, you get…

13 Panic Attack!

14 Panic AttackExcitement Excitement and panic/anxiety/stress are really very similar reactions (to different extremes). One critical difference is whether you are able to use the mind-body arousal. The other side of the coin is whether you are creating more arousal in a situation than you can use productively.

15 So, how does this happen that your mind-body gets aroused for do or die, when all you have is to do? A bit more explanation… A bit more explanation… Well there is some good news and some bad news… The bad news is that it is all in your head, (and by association, your body as well). And the good news is that it is all in your head, and… More good news you can learn to focus in a way that you can control your arousal level, or at least lower it. Even more good news if you practice, you can get a calming response quickly. And yet more good news you can feel better about yourself and what you do…

16 At times when you are stressing out, I could predict that there are a few things you are doing that are causing distress… And therefore can learn to do differently. Time traveling. Focusing on What Is Not/Nothing. Bad coachingbeing negative when optimal performance/results calls for encouragement and support. Imagining things (and not good ones)! Practicing a stress imbalance. Time traveling. Focusing on What Is Not/Nothing. Bad coachingbeing negative when optimal performance/results calls for encouragement and support. Imagining things (and not good ones)! Practicing a stress imbalance. First: The Time Traveling issues…

17 the Past-- the Past-- the Past-- the Future-- the Future-- the Future-- The time machine can take you one of 2 places The time machine can take you one of 2 places And this is what you might get…

18 You press Recalling past failures…accidents that validate that bad things happen…things that youve messed up…mistakes made…anything negative others might have thought about you…areas of weakness…ways that you were not good enough…anything that might have gone wrong…what you might have been to blame for…etc., etc., etc. Recalling past failures…accidents that validate that bad things happen…things that youve messed up…mistakes made…anything negative others might have thought about you…areas of weakness…ways that you were not good enough…anything that might have gone wrong…what you might have been to blame for…etc., etc., etc. And heres what happens… You start thinking about things like… You press And heres what happens… You start thinking about things like… Imagining future failures…accidents that validate that bad things will happen…things that you might mess up…mistakes that could be made…any negative judgments that others could make…areas of potential weakness…ways that you may not be good enough…anything that might go wrong…what you could be to blame for…etc., etc., etc. Imagining future failures…accidents that validate that bad things will happen…things that you might mess up…mistakes that could be made…any negative judgments that others could make…areas of potential weakness…ways that you may not be good enough…anything that might go wrong…what you could be to blame for…etc., etc., etc.

19 Ever heard dont worry, dont stress? Well intentioned, but helpful? Probably not. Let me illustrate. Next Focusing on What is NOT/Nothing Next Focusing on What is NOT/Nothing What have I asked you to do? What have I asked you to do? Now this is where you need to concentrate… Concentrate very hard on not thinking about a purple elephant…dont think of the color purple or an elephant…dont think about what it would be to like to see an elephant that was purple…dont imagine how strange it would be to see a huge purple elephant walking across campus.

20 I just made it more likely that you would think about a purple elephant.

21 Next What about Coaching? Next What about Coaching? Allow me to illustrate… Allow me to illustrate… Think about the kinds of things you say or think to yourself when you are stressing vs. when you are feeling confident. If you are stressing out, its a good bet that some of the ideas are negative…blaming…highlighting weaknesses…past or future mistakes…not motivating…deflating… etc…

22 Now, could you imagine Michaels coach saying this?… Now Michael, our whole season is on the line, and we dont have time to get a very good shot. Remember that last game when you took the last shotit was such an easy one, and you missed it! I sure hope you dont do that again. And you havent been playing very well today; your shooting has been awfulyou are making me a wreck! The way that youve been playing, Im not sure I even like you any more. Now that I think about it, Im not sure I want you taking the last shotyou missed your last one and Im afraid youll screw it up. But then there really is no one else to shoot it. But, what if you miss, the whole team will be down on you, and wed all be sooo disappointed in you for ruining our season. So dont you dare miss this shotor Ill bench you until you get hemorrhoids from sitting so long!

23 How are you Coaching your self? How are you Coaching your self? Think about it…What kinds of things might a first rate coach might be saying instead, the kind of messages that would produce the best shot at winning? Then you have a clue as to what kind of messages you want to be giving yourself. Which of these 2 thought clouds would you want in your own head? Are you coaching yourself towards Success? Or Something Else??? Think about it…What kinds of things might a first rate coach might be saying instead, the kind of messages that would produce the best shot at winning? Then you have a clue as to what kind of messages you want to be giving yourself. Which of these 2 thought clouds would you want in your own head? Are you coaching yourself towards Success? Or Something Else???

24 What does matter is that whether you focus on success, What does matter is that whether you focus on success, or you focus on failure you make it more likely to happen. Some people think that it is more realistic to think about the possibility of screwing up. Maybebut that doesnt matter.

25 One Last Thought Exercise… If you will lend me your Imagination… One Last Thought Exercise… If you will lend me your Imagination… Imagine taking a deep bite of a large, very tart, very juicy lemon slice. Imagine that it is cold and oozing with juice, and that the juice is swirling around your tongue and your teeth. Take a moment to focus on this picture and imagine your teeth sinking into this lemon slice, and feel the texture of the pulp and the sensation of the tart, cool juice swirling around your tongue and your teeth.

26 If you have a good imagination, you probably found yourself salivating. This mind-body connection is a simple reminder that your mind is a powerful and complex tool. It is well worth your investment to make sure that you make it work for you – not against you. When you think about the worst that may happen, you are giving your mind-body the message to respond to the worst. You may know in your head that the situation is not really life and death, but your body does not necessarily know what level of danger exists, only that there is danger. This is what the message might sound like…

27 T his is what your body might hear if it were in words: T his is what your body might hear if it were in words: There is a potential catastrophe cominggear up to meet the threat. Heart pump harder to give extra nutrients to my cells. Breathe faster to oxygenate my muscles to be more efficient. Sweat more to cool me off in case I have to run or fight hard. Give me adrenaline so I can be stronger and faster. Muscles tense so that you are ready for action. Stress hormones and other brain chemicals contribute here too, because this could be a life or death situation, and we must be ready for anything! Brain, kick into hyper gear so that I can make quick decisionsthink fast; obsess on all potential dangers in the environmentmy life could depend on it; focus only on the dangersI must survive! STESS OUT! STESS OUT!

28 That would be great if you were doing this… But not so great if you were doing this…where an arousal level of 2 or 3 is where Allison can take her best shot. But not so great if you were doing this…where an arousal level of 2 or 3 is where Allison can take her best shot.

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30 There is a saying that has been passed on from generations past, attributed to many different people. I do not know the truth of just where it came from, but I think the person who came up with it must have been pretty smart. It goes something like this… If you practiced this in all the stress full areas of your life until you got very good at it, youd be more serene, for sure. Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

31 Time Traveling When your mental energy is focused on the past or the future, you are in a place of focus on what you cannot change nor take any useful action about (unless you really do have a time machine). That typically involves a situation where you would very much like to be able to do something, but cannotso you add feeling out of control and helpless to the tangle. The present is in reality the only place we can do anything useful. We can think about past mistakes in order to do something better in the present. We can think about the future in order to add motivation and meaning to present efforts. But all ties back to how you influence present actions. So, you need to add a button to your time machine So, you need to add a button to your time machine

32 Remember, when you are stressing, you are preparing your mind- body for action. Bring your focus back to what you can do now, something about which you can take action. MAIN MESSAGE When in doubt Remember, when you are stressing, you are preparing your mind- body for action. Bring your focus back to what you can do now, something about which you can take action. MAIN MESSAGE When in doubt Another O-L-D saying Tomorrow is a mystery, and yesterday is history; but now is a gift and thats why they call it the PRESENT. Do -- Dont Stew Do -- Dont Stew

33 Focusing on what is not/Nothing Focusing on what is not/Nothing If your mental energy is focused on what is not, what you dont want, you are more likely to get more of just that. We can think about what we dont want to happen as a means to help clarify what we do want to happen. Thinking about what we dont want can add motivation and meaning to what we do want. But the latter is our destination. Bring your focus back to what you do want to happen. Recognize that your mind is a powerful tool, and your mental focus has a strong influence on the outcome. Whether you think positive, or think negative, you are setting forces in motion to move you in that direction.

34 Bad Coaching Being hard on someonepointing out flaws, deficiencies, inadequacies, ways they are not as good as they could becan be useful IF IF it serves as a challenge that motivates a person to perform better. However being harsh may do just the opposite if a person is already in a slump, feeling unsure of themselves and questioning their abilities. Listen to the messages you are giving yourself, or taking in from others. Honestly assess if they are really the most helpful to achieve optimal performance. Listen to the messages you are giving yourself, or taking in from others. Honestly assess if they are really the most helpful to achieve optimal performance.

35 Really listen Ask yourself: is your attitude and thoughts what you would tell a best friend or a person you really cared about and wanted to do well? If the message is damping your motivation and your confidence, then get clear on your intentions, and modify the message so that it fits your goals. The suggestions that you give yourself have at least as great of an effect as what you say to or hear from others. It is well worth the effort to attend to the quality of your self- coachinggood or bad, so shall go the direction of your performance, with self esteem in close tow. Good Coaching Good Coaching

36 Imagining Things Imagining Things Imagination can be a wonderful toolthinking outside the box can enable us to build better boxes. Imagining a desirable vision of the future can be a good thing if it motivates and empowers action toward building a better future. Imagining catastrophe, or the worst case scenario, can even have its place if it leads us to take action towards preventing it. Mental rehearsal is a natural and useful ability. Again, it is important to evaluate what you are rehearsing for. Are you practicing failure scenarios, or empowering ones? Are you tying yourself up with What if-ing? If so, you may be suffering many negative outcomes in your mind Whereas when you focus on what is, even if the worst scenario came to pass (and usually it doesnt anyhow), youd suffer only once.

37 Practicing a Stress imbalance Stress is a very useful response, or it wouldnt have survived within the human gene pool! Especially in the fast pace of life in modern times, it can be very advantageous to be moving at a hundred miles an hour, thinking fast, working hard and long to accomplish important tasks. Howeverjust like humans need sleep to recover and repair from the days activitiesso too do people need to have a balance of periods of relaxation to recover from periods of stress. Weve all heard of All work and no play… Equally as true All stress and no relaxation… Stress is a very useful response, or it wouldnt have survived within the human gene pool! Especially in the fast pace of life in modern times, it can be very advantageous to be moving at a hundred miles an hour, thinking fast, working hard and long to accomplish important tasks. Howeverjust like humans need sleep to recover and repair from the days activitiesso too do people need to have a balance of periods of relaxation to recover from periods of stress. Weve all heard of All work and no play… Equally as true All stress and no relaxation…

38 Also consider that what you practice over and over becomes the automatic response that you get most easily. Consider the common example of your signature. Even though it involves the precise coordination of hundreds of muscles, not to mention thousands of nerves, you produce it exactly so every time you sign your name. Through repetition, you have trained your nervous system. You might remember back to the first time you ever wrote your name in cursiveit wasnt nearly so easy! But with enough repetitions, it becomes an automatic and near perfect reproduction, without even thinking about it. The Stress Habit

39 Think about it. How much have you practiced a stress response, getting yourself pumped up more than is needed or desirable for a given situation or task? Think about it. How much have you practiced a stress response, getting yourself pumped up more than is needed or desirable for a given situation or task? Most people dont spend nearly as much time practicing a relaxation response, so feel that it doesnt come as easily or as naturally. Most people dont spend nearly as much time practicing a relaxation response, so feel that it doesnt come as easily or as naturally. It starts to feel like that it is just how I am, much as it feels that your signature is just what it is. It is easy to forget that you once learned it, and probably have figured out how to change it some over the years (perhaps without recognizing just how you did that). Therefore you can learn to do it differently. It starts to feel like that it is just how I am, much as it feels that your signature is just what it is. It is easy to forget that you once learned it, and probably have figured out how to change it some over the years (perhaps without recognizing just how you did that). Therefore you can learn to do it differently. There are quite a number of useful ways to practice a relaxation response. People have been doing this in a variety of ways for about as long as they have been walking on 2 legs! The key is to identify what works best for you, and practice it enough so that you are able to use it when you find your stress level is higher than optimal for your current situation or activity.

40 Breathe Well & Use a There are lots of stress coping sorts of resources available, on the websome of those resources are listed on a following slideand elsewhere. So I wont go into them here. But I will mention one thing that all of them have in common from many different disciplines and world views. That is deep breathing, and many suggest the use of a key word that you most associate with a state of relaxation. One simple method Breathe in deeply for a count of 1 - 5, hold for a second or 2, then breathe out slowly for a count of 5 – 1. Focus on a word or two as you exhalea word like relax, calm, cool, tranquil, peaceful, ohm, whatever floats your boatwhatever gives you the strongest association with the state of mind that you want to move towards. Imagine as though it is reverberating from the back of your mind…Repeat as many times as works for you…The more you practice attaining a relaxation response, the more automatic and easy and natural it will become when you really want to get it, when you need it. There are lots of stress coping sorts of resources available, on the websome of those resources are listed on a following slideand elsewhere. So I wont go into them here. But I will mention one thing that all of them have in common from many different disciplines and world views. That is deep breathing, and many suggest the use of a key word that you most associate with a state of relaxation. One simple method Breathe in deeply for a count of 1 - 5, hold for a second or 2, then breathe out slowly for a count of 5 – 1. Focus on a word or two as you exhalea word like relax, calm, cool, tranquil, peaceful, ohm, whatever floats your boatwhatever gives you the strongest association with the state of mind that you want to move towards. Imagine as though it is reverberating from the back of your mind…Repeat as many times as works for you…The more you practice attaining a relaxation response, the more automatic and easy and natural it will become when you really want to get it, when you need it.

41 One last wordOptimal is Sooo Individual One last wordOptimal is Sooo Individual Stress level and optimal performance is very individual. Some people are naturally more high strung and may do well with a slightly for many types of activities. Stress level and optimal performance is very individual. Some people are naturally more high strung and may do well with a slightly higher level for many types of activities. Some people are naturally more low strung and the same level would impede their performance, and would want a to do their best. Some people are naturally more low strung and the same level would impede their performance, and would want a lower level to do their best. Develop awareness of your own level of optimal performance. When it is for your current activity, practice your relaxation response to move down to a better zone to enable useful action. Develop awareness of your own level of optimal performance. When it is too high for your current activity, practice your relaxation response to move down to a better zone to enable useful action. The

42 Try some of these: Counseling & Consultation Services Relaxation: Counseling & Consultation Services Relaxation: Coming soon: Listen to an audio guided relaxation experience Arrival on our web site to be announced Arrival on our web site to be announced. Virtual pamphlet collection Virtual pamphlet collection University Counseling Centers across the country have contributed a large array of information on Stress, anxiety and many other mental health and self help topics specifically created for university students: American Institute of Stress American Institute of Stress :

43 This Mini-Workshop was created by Thomas Stanger, Ph.D. Director, Counseling & Consultation Services Northern Michigan University. Comments, feedback, suggestions? The author can be contacted at: This Mini-Workshop was created by Thomas Stanger, Ph.D. Director, Counseling & Consultation Services Northern Michigan University. Comments, feedback, suggestions? The author can be contacted at:


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