Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stress Management Program - 4 Techniques in Managing Stress

From 14 to 15 December 2009, I attended a Stress Management Program conducted by Global Training Consultant in Genting View Resort. It was an internal training program organised by my company and all 65 participants from my company attended the course. Most of them are HODs and Branch Managers.
Just to share with you some of our experiences.

Stress particularly happens to a person who experiences conflicting or mutiple, important demands that are beyond their ability to cope.  There are bad stress and good stress.  Managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, feeling, and the way you deal with the problems. Some people handling the stress by converting them into opportunity. The ultimate goal is how to hold up under pressure, manage them and meet the challenges head on.
Look at how you currently cope with stress. Are you coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope stress with negative strategies, i.e. smoking, drinking, withdrawing from friends, family and activities, using pills and drugs to relax, sleeping too much and taking the stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence).

There are many ways to manage and cope with stress. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt or Accept.

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to managing it. Just focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

Technique 1: Avoid

Not all stress can be avoided and it is not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addresses. Example, if you job as a Senior Manager and you are responsible to manage and guide your staff, you must do you job and you cannot avoid your responsibility to your staff.

1. Avoid people who stress you out – apply out from your current department if your current boss is damn ‘pain in the ass’. I did that.

2. Take control of your environment- if the TV news makes you anxious turn the TV off.

3. Learn how to say “no” - Sometimes need to say “no” to some stupid request from other people who purposely want to ‘ti-chi' some work to you.

Technique 2: Alter

If you cannot avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do the change things so the problem does not present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

1. Express your feeling instead of bottling them up – if something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you do not voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

2. Be willing to compromise – when you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, your will have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

3. Manage your time better – poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you are stretched too thin and running behind, it is hard to stay calm and focus. But if you plan ahead and make sure you do not overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you are under.

Technique 3: Adapt

If you cannot change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectation and attitude.

1. Reframe problem – Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective rather than fuming about it. Look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup.

2. Look at the big picture – Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over it? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

3. Focus on the positive - When stress I getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Technique 4: Accept

If you cannot change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectation and attitude.

1. Do not try to control the uncontrollable - Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. Like my former boss, if the brain like shit, just accept it.

2. Share your feeling – Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what are you going through can be very cathartic, even if there is nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

3. Learn to forgive - Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Other technique is to make time for fun and relaxation. It means that you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you will be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come. Example – go for a walk, write in your journal, take a long bath, work in your garden, get a massage, curl up with a good book, listen to music, watch a comedy, spend time in nature, call a good friend and savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.

In my opinion, the above techniques are good in systematically manage your stress. But for Muslim, the best ways is to pray to Allah swt and a lot of “berdoa”. Sometimes good also to recite surah “Yassin” or perform “Solat Sunat”.

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