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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

Weekly Tips

Not Angering Reduces Stress

An old Chinese proverb says, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

The questions, “Anything I can do?” or “I’ve had a similar experience and I can relate to your situation” can help you respond in a difficult situation with sensitivity, rather than with sarcasm and stress.

Even if you are not sure what is behind someone’s aggressive behavior, the few seconds it takes to pause can keep you from saying something you will regret. It will also prevent you from creating a stressful situation for yourself and the other person who is already stressed.

There have always been and always will be difficult people in the world. However, … >>>

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Computer Workstation Ergonomics Exercises Reduce Stress

Here are some suggestions that are easy to implement:

  • Take breaks.  Computer workstation ergonomics exercises reduce stress are not listed in priorities. The exception is this first one. Take a 3 – 5 minute break every hour.  Simply engage in another activity, even if it’s just to get up and stretch. Changing activities will stimulate your brain. It actually make you more focused and productive when you return to your computer.
  • Give your eyes a rest. Every hour on the hour, look away from your desktop for at least 30 seconds. Varying the focal point of your eyes from close-up to distance can ease eyestrain and reduce fatigue.
  • Relax your arms. Keep your forearms level with your
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Reflective Questions Relieve Stress

You can learn how to relieve stress with reflective questions. Simply put, reflective questions relieve stress. The reasons are twofold: (1) Just asking redirects your thinking which, in turn, changes your feelings, and (2) you realize that you have options—that you need not feel like a victim.

Reflective questions carry additional attributes aside from relieving stress because they place you in command. That in itself reduces tension, anxiety, and stress. Asking yourself reflective questions relieve stress by also defusing frustrating situations and promoting responsible thinking.

Even if there seems to be a pause as you formulate a question, that’s okay because you are engaged in the process of thinking. Of course, thinking is the first step to have reflective questions … >>>

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Focus to Reduce Stress

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There was once a navy jet pilot who was terrified at first when landing his aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

“Everything was in motion,” he said. “The ship was tossing up and down, the waves were moving, the airplane was moving, and trying to get it all to move together seemed impossible.”

An old pro gave the young pilot some advice that solved the problem. “There is a yellow marker in the center of the flight deck that always stays still,” the veteran told him. “Always line up the nose of the plane toward that mark and fly straight toward it.”

That’s pretty good advice for coping with stress. Always have a goal—a “mark” to work toward—and … >>>

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Reflective Questions Reduce Stress

One of the keys to reducing stress between teachers/parents and youth is to ask the young person reflective questions during discipline situations. Recently, a teacher asked me, “What if the student refuses to answer any question you pose?”

Imagine asking someone multiple questions and the other person refusing to answer. That would surely result in increased stress. But rather than let this situation stress you out, you can overcome it by using two approaches: (1) Socratic dialog and (2) the Pygmalion effect. Here is what I mean:

1) Socratic dialog: Lead the person through a series of questions. In this case, use THREE questions—all of them prompting a “YES” response.

2) Pygmalion effect: Expecting the best from people can be … >>>

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Use Consequences to Reduce Stress

For parents and teachers, dealing with youth discipline causes a lot of stress. That’s why I created the Discipline Without Stress methodology. It promotes responsibility in youth while enabling adults to reduce stress.

One of the cornerstones of the Discipline Without Stress book and approach is to elicit consequences rather than impose punishments. Some people struggle at first to understand the difference between imposing a punishment and encouraging the youth to determine the consequence for his or her action, so here is a brief explanation.

A consequence is very different from a punishment. A punishment is something that is imposed by another party. It usually has no connection to the behavior and frequently belittles or shames the offender. It is … >>>

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Take Control to Reduce Stress

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to gain control of various areas of your life. Of course, you can’t control everything, but there are probably many things you can take control of, rather than letting others dictate what you must do. Why is control so important to being able to reduce stress?

In a classic study, scientists put two rats in a cage, each of them locked in a running wheel. The first rat could exercise whenever he liked. The second was yoked to the first and forced to run when his counterpart did.

Exercise usually does reduce stress and encourage neuron growth, and indeed, the first rat’s brain bloomed with new cells. The second rat, however, … >>>

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Sitting Is The New Smoking

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Sitting is the new smoking.

The human body was developed for movement.

A sedentary culture of sitting is taking a major toll on people’s health. When sitting for long periods of time, our bodies become less efficient. Sitting more than six hours a day puts you on a very unhealthy path—even if you exercise.

Sitting for long periods of time can actually make bottoms bigger because sitting down puts a large amount of force on the body tissues that make fat cells. People who sit for prolonged periods throughout the day are predisposed to developing diabetes as well as other health problems. In addition, lack of movement increases a propensity for depression and feeling blue.

Here are a few suggestions … >>>

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How To Handle a Monkey

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When we do things for people that they can do for themselves, we deprive them of the opportunity to learn, grow, and become more self-sufficient.

Here is a technique I used as an elementary, middle, and high school principal and as a district director of education.

When my office was large enough to hold a table as well as my desk, I immediately welcomed the person and offered a seat at the table. This immediately removed any feelings of my being in an authority position.

I listened, and if the conversation was about a problem that I thought the person could handle, I immediately envisioned a monkey sitting on the person’s shoulder. My intent was to be sure that when … >>>

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How To Avoid Saying NO

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Ever say “NO!” to a person?

It seems rather obvious that the response to this question prompts negative feelings. If you ask for something and you receive a negative response, you will not be very pleased.

The negative response not only may prompt stress for the receiver of the comment, but it can also prompt negative feelings and some stress for the person giving the response. What parent or manager derives pleasure in saying “NO!” to someone?

Someone who was about to adopt a child asked me how to avoid the common response by so many parents of NOT continually saying, ‘No!’” (“No, you cannot do that!” “No, you cannot have that!”)

My response: Say “Not yet.”

These two words … >>>

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Employing Your Nonconscious Mind

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Make your nonconscious mind your friend.

The nonconscious mind believes what the conscious mind tells it. When a thought flits through your mind, your nonconscious mind “hears” it, believes it, and records it. Your conscious mind may forget about it immediately, but it’s in a permanent file in your brain.

Your nonconscious mind is the storehouse for your habits and all of what you do without consciously thinking about them, which means that your nonconscious mind has a profound effect on you.

For example, if you think that you will not sleep well tonight, your conscious mind believes you and creates a roadblock. If you think that you will not pass some employment or other exam, you are programming negative … >>>

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Working with Fear

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Fear is often a by-product of negative thoughts. Unfortunately, we have an innate capacity for fear.

In 1919 psychologist John B. Watson conducted a controversial experiment to see whether fear could be learned.

A young boy he named “Little Albert” was shown different creatures, including a rat. At first, Albert showed no fear of the rat.

Then Watson paired the exposure with a harsh sound that scared the little boy. Soon, Little Albert would react with fear at just the sight of the rat alone.

In essence, this was an example of classic conditioning. We are all familiar with the example of Ivan Pavlov and his experiments of feeding a dog while ringing a bell. Soon Pavlov just rang the … >>>

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Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

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Fear and anxiety are natural emotions.

You may not know exactly why you feel these emotions, but when you do, you think something bad is about to happen—even if you don’t quite know what.

Since fear and anxiety do not naturally accomplish something positive, the trick is to manage them and put them to your use, rather than trying to ignore them.

The first step is to acknowledge these emotions—since you cannot initially change them.

The next step is to visualize them as positive sources for motivation. This can be likened to a soldier about to go into battle. The soldier uses courage to act regardless of the fear and anxiety.

My father, as articulate as he was, feared to … >>>

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Remaining unhappy

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Remaining unhappy is very easy. It even comes naturally. If you are in a funk, it is natural to be unhappy. But when you are in this state and do nothing about it, you are taking the easy way out. Is this in your own best interest?

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” When unhappy or feeling sad, it is a shame to take the easy way out.

You can take the easy approach and remain in a funk, or you can choose to put forth effort. All you need to do to change your feelings is to redirect your thinking. The emotion (feelings) always follows thinking (cognition).

Never attempt … >>>

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Facing Adversity

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If you were born into a poor family without the means to send you to a desired university, you can’t go back and trade in your parents for a set of millionaires.

If you were born with a physical disability, you can’t trade in your body for a better model.

Remember, however, that the cards you are dealt are less important than the way you play your hand.

History books are full of success stories about people who faced adversity as a challenge.

I know this from my own life. Throughout my K-12 education, I stuttered so badly that I was afraid to open my mouth in public. When I did, I could feel my heart beating so badly that … >>>

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Listening, Caring, and the Story

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Listening and caring are prime sources of good relationships. They are so intertwined that if you experience one, you also experience the other.

If you ask yourself how you know someone cares for you, one of your responses is likely to be that you know because the person listens to you.

Ask a husband about a good wife, and he is likely to say that he knows his wife cares for him because she listens to what he has to say. Ask a wife about a good husband, and she’ll respond that he listens to her.

Even if we are saying something that is not really worth listening to, we still want someone to listen to us.

Ask a person … >>>

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Counterwill

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“Counterwill” is the name for the natural human resistance to being controlled by someone else.

This instinctive resistance can take many forms—disobedience or defiance, procrastination, doing the opposite of what is expected, and lack of motivation. Counterwill is normal in toddlers, in young people of all ages, and most certainly in adults. It is such a universal phenomenon at certain stages of development that it has given rise to the term “rebellious twos” and “rebellious teens.”

The underlying dynamic of counterwill is deceptively simple: a defensive reaction to felt coercion. On a side note, the totally noncoercive (but not permissive) Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model totally bypasses counterwill.

Trying to deal with this dynamic by using coercion is a … >>>

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Autonomy and Motivation

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Autonomy is a key driver of human behavior in traditional American culture. The most successful people are autonomous and are able to handle stress successfully.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs referred to autonomy as the level of “self-actualization.” My Hierarchy of Social Development refers to this as Level D, Democracy—taking the initiative to do something that is right regardless of social pressures.

People who only reach Level C, (external motivation) on the Hierarchy of Social Development will never be autonomous because they rely on external motivational sources such as seeking the approval of others and the desire to fit in and be liked by others.

Autonomous people realize that the inner satisfaction received by Level D (internal motivation) … >>>

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Dr. Marvin Marshall
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