At this stage, you may now be able to notice when your behaviour and your thinking are unhelpful, as well as noticing any bodily symptoms associated with stress.
You can write your thoughts in the notepad below.
You can write your thoughts in the notepad below.
An important thing to remember is that feelings largely come from thoughts, so what’s going through your mind will affect how you feel. As humans we are more likely to acknowledge how we feel (stressed, angry, sad, anxious, etc.) rather than identifying what we are thinking. For example, if you have money worries you can get caught up in the feeling of panic, fear and anxiety. However, if you can think "I need help to sort my money problem" and "where can you get help", you go into problem solving mode which can help you to feel less emotionally stressed and more in control.
Worry is a thought process driven by uncertainty or fear which either helps us to get things done or which can overwhelm us. As covered in previous workshops, uncertainty and fear drive stress when having to deal with things like money problems, relationship problems, problems at school, worries about fitting in, a relative being unwell, a pet being unwell, assignment deadline and exams.
Worry is a chain of thoughts which usually makes us anxious about future events, to which we then add judgements about our ability to cope with them and ourselves.
Worry can affect our behavior by causing us to do less (to avoid the stressful situation) or do more (to compensate for our worry). When worried our capacity to cope can be diminished and we may need to rely on others more often, rather than being able to cope on our own.
Worry also affects our thinking. When we are worried we tend to see more problems than there are, and make life more difficult than it needs to be. We can even become problem-focused and jump from one worry to the next. In this frame of mind it is much more difficult to make decisions and we can become gloomy.
Is this worry realistic or likely to happen? Can you do something about this worry? Do you have much control over it?
Use problem solving
Tackle the thought, use distraction, relaxation
Instead of thinking you cannot cope with all your worries, try tackling one at a time. It is better to deal with some worries than none at all! Tackling too many problems at once is overwhelming for most people!
Start with the easiest problem first. If you are worried about your parents getting divorced, or worried about your health, or getting an outfit for the school dance next week or buying your friend a gift for her birthday then start with what you think would be easiest.
Once you have broken your problems down you may find that a lot of them can be tackled one at a time.
You could do this by arranging the list in order of difficulty. Start with the thing you will find easiest to tackle, and put the hardest things last. Write your easiest one below.
Give specific details about where, when and how you imagine yourself doing it and getting a positive outcome.
In the table below, write down your list of ideas to help you reach your goal. Be as creative as you like. This might include a list of any services that you may want to visit and explore if they can help you in anyway e.g. pastoral care teacher, friend. Also, write the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.
Give specific details: dates, times, exactly what you will do – all the when’s, where’s and how’s. Look out for little things which might get in your way at the time.
Make a note of how things went – what went well, what didn’t go so well, what you have gained from this experience and any ideas for next time. Write your notes here:
As has been covered earlier, uncertain situations and fear can lead to stress. You may be worried about changing schools, your performance at school, someone close to you being ill or your friendship with someone. These issues may seem impossible to tackle because of the level of uncertainty involved. Again, ask yourself, “is it an internal or external stress, can I do something about it or not?”
Uncertainty is difficult to handle when the situation is uncontrollable and when you cannot predict what will happen.
As a general rule do what you can and then deal with your reactions to uncertainty.
The workshops have highlighted what stress is and ways it can be tackled. Life can be stressful but applying the problem solving techniques in these workshops will support you to tackle stress and to take steps to tackling your worries. The following diagram highlights the cycle of stress and what you can do to overcome it. The more aware you are of your thoughts, feelings, bodily symptoms and behaviour, the more likely you are to be able to tackle stress.
At the beginning of each session we asked you to mark on the scale of change , a scale from 0 to 5, to rate your quality of life. Continue to use this scale to make plans to get you to the next point on the scale and to review where you are. Ask yourself what has changed that got you to that point.
When you are thinking about what to do to move up a point, make sure your goals are realistic and take one step at a time no matter how small.
Remember that progress is not always smooth or easy and set-backs are common. Try to identify those situations which trigger your stress and explore ways of addressing it using the techniques suggested in these workshops.
Don’t panic if you have a set-back. Set-backs are natural and you just need to work out what you can do about it and how you can approach things differently the next time.
A set-back doesn’t mean that you are back to square one. Use the scale of change to work out what has changed and why this may have caused you to move back. Look at what you need to put back into place to get you back to where you were.
Life can be a challenge and that’s a fact. The more we care for ourselves, the more able we are to meet those challenges without feeling too stressed or overwhelmed. This doesn’t mean we won’t get overwhelmed at times, but if we incorporate steps to managing stress into our daily routine, it might just help.
The following are the 7 steps to managing stress which is part of the stress management support at the partner agencies. See if you can introduce these into your life and remember if things are getting to you then speak to someone.
Stay away from excessive amounts of tea, coffee, fizzy drinks with high caffeine levels and alcohol.
Eat 3 meals a day never missing breakfast and have fruit or vegetables or fruit juice with every meal.
Listen to a relaxation audio clip or relaxing music every day. Practice slow, regular breathing techniques. Breathe in for 3 seconds and breathe out for 3 seconds. Use the second hand on a clock or watch until you get comfortable with how long 3 seconds is.
Do some sort of exercise or activity at least 3 times a week. Walking, swimming or even housework would count, anything which keeps you active.
Ideally you should be aiming for 10,000 steps a day, buy a pedometer and check your activity levels.
If you have not been active for a while, it is advisable to seek medical advice before starting any exercise regime.
Make an effort to have fun if you haven’t in a while. Watch a funny video; go out with people who make you laugh, smile just for the fun of it. With practice it will be effortless to have
If someone or something has upset you and you are holding onto this deal with it, don’t just ignore it and allow it to fester.