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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

Stress Management

Anger Management 101

Image of a man and a woman verbally fighting

Anger management is an important skill to master these days. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with an emotional person? If you have, you probably realized it was an act of futility. This stress management tip will help you take the sting out of such future conflicts and be a master at anger management.

Regardless of the person’s age or why they are upset, when an emotionally charged person is seeing red, is angry, or is overly obstinate, trying to reason with them is fruitless.

The smart approach to diffuse the situation is to take a break. Therefore, suggest it. Set a time to return. It can be as short as two minutes. It’s as simple as saying, … >>>

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What Motivates You?

How successful you are at handling stress often comes down to one thing: Knowing what motivates you.

Do you know what motivates you? Most people have never given this question a second thought. But when you know what motivates you, you can thrive in any stressful situation.

Internal vs External Motivation

Autonomy is a key driver of human behavior in traditional American culture. The most successful people are autonomous. As a result, they 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. People operating at Level D take the initiative to do the right thing regardless of social … >>>

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Fill Your Mind with Positive Thoughts

Image of a human head made with positive words

To keep your stress level down, it’s important to fill your brain with positive thoughts. Why? Because the brain is like a sponge. It soaks up whatever is near. If positive thoughts dominate your day, your brain will soak that up. Likewise, if negativity dominates your thoughts, your brain will soak that up too.

Getting rid of the negativity isn’t always easy. Think about this: The ghosts of what we erase on a computer remain deep within the system, electronically etched into the hard drive. Similarly, what goes into the human mind can remain to contaminate it or to enrich it.

Let’s go back to the sponge analogy. If you soak a sponge in dirty water and squeeze it, dirty … >>>

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How to Reduce Anxiety

Image of a cartoon man running from an over-sized and ominous shadow figure chasing him.

When you eliminate your assumptions, you greatly reduce anxiety. Although assumptions are necessary, they are often the cause of needless stress and anxiety. When you understand how assumptions influence your feelings, you will enter a new stage of stress management.

For example, let’s say that you learn that you will have a meeting with your supervisor later in the day. You can assume the meeting will be discouraging, or you can assume it will be encouraging. If you assume you will be discouraged after the meeting, and you are not, you will have fretted for nothing. With the opposite assumption, if you believe the meeting will bring you good news and it does not, you will be disappointed. No matter … >>>

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Relieve Stress in the Midst of Failure

Image of a highway sign that reads "Stress Free Zone."

People often ask me how to relieve stress, especially when they are facing a failure of some sort. I usually ask them some basic questions to determine their attitude toward stress. Some common questions are: Does the phrase “Failure is NOT an option” stress you out? Is failure really a bad thing? Does failing at something reflect negatively on you? Can failure actually be a good thing? These are just a few of the many questions.

Fortunately, this stress management tip won’t fail you, and you really will learn how to relieve stress during failure!

First, realize that failure is NOT a negative. In fact, it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that … >>>

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A Time Management Strategy to Reduce Stress

Image of a person holding a clock in each hand. There is a checklist of tasks behind each clock.

When it comes to time management, knowing the difference between what is urgent versus what is important is essential. Why? Because there is a marked difference between what is urgent and what is important. If you focus on the wrong one, or if you are continually diverting your attention between the two, chances are that your stress level will rise.

Think of it this way: An urgent task may not be very important in the long run; however, an urgent task may demand immediate attention. In contrast to something urgent, an important task is something that moves you toward your goal. Where do you think you should focus your attention for optimal time management and lower stress?

Before you answer … >>>

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Enhance Your Life to Manage Stress

Image of man standing at the ocean's edge looking out into the sea.

How did Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived Nazi death camps, manage stress?

Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, explained managing his stress while in a Nazi death camp in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” one of the most influential books of all time. In it he emphasized the importance of making meaning for one’s life.

Here is an example from a classic tale about having meaning in your life, which has a direct effect on how you manage stress.

A man was walking down the street when he came upon three workers at a construction site. All of them were doing the same job. He asked the first worker what he was doing. The worker replied, “Breaking up these rocks.” … >>>

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Collaboration Reduces Stress

Image of people sharing ideas and collaborating.

If you want to reduce stress in relationships, focus on collaboration rather than domination.

Dominating another person may feel good, but think of the effect it has on the other person—as well as on yourself. Just as no one likes to be told what to do, no one likes to be dominated. In addition, domination is a close cousin of stress because it raises a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

In contrast to dominating someone, when you aim at collaboration, stress is reduced and relationships improve. A simple approach to begin the collaboration process is by asking the other person’s opinion. The technique is amazingly simple and so effective.

Another simple approach is to ask for the … >>>

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Driving License Renewal and Stress

Image of a crowded DMV office

Renewing a driver’s license can be stressful! When you need to renew your driving license, it’s smart to make an appointment ahead of time with your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). At least this is the case in California, where I reside. Having an appointment will reduce your stress. But this is only the beginning of my experience, which I share with you for your benefit.

California and other states in the USA now offer two types of driver’s licenses: one for the state only and one that qualifies for federal identification—including airline security. Before you apply for a new driver’s license or for a license renewal, review this information to reduce your stress and frustration.

Assumptions Lead to Stress

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Feeling Stressed? Change Your Perception

Image of a dark gray background with a door in the middle. The door is opening to a peaceful sunny day to illustrate a change in perception.

How many times have you blamed an event or person for your negative reaction? If you’re like most people, it has happened often. Everything from traffic jams, to comments made by others, to sudden changes of plans can make people upset. But what if I told you that these events, no matter how bad you think they are, are not the cause of your stress?

Epictetus (A.D. 55-135) wrote: “It is not the event itself that is the problem; it is the perception of that event.” In other words, the things that happen to us aren’t problems; rather, it is our reaction to the events that determine whether we feel stress or not. This bit of information has made one … >>>

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How to Relax During Stressful Situations

Image of a brain wearing sunglasses sitting in a beach chair on a beach relaxing

Trying to relax during a stressful situation can be a challenge. After all, it’s hard to relax when your mind is racing and when events are stressing you out. If you find taking a break to relax difficult when the pressure is on, consider the following approach.

During the last days of World War II, someone commented to President Harry Truman that he appeared to bear up under the stress and strain of the presidency better than any previous president, that the job did not appear to have aged him or sap his vitality, and that this was remarkable—especially in view of the many problems which he faced as a wartime president.

His response was, “I have a foxhole in … >>>

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Your Mindset and Stress

mindset and stress

If you feel that your life is stressful, you may need to alter your mindset.

The fact is that we all perceive life through filters developed from our temperament and experiences. Your mental set functions all the time, consciously or nonconsciously. Having a limited mental set hampers solutions to challenges, thus causing increased stress.

Therefore, a critical key to problem solving and stress reduction is expanding your mindset by cultivating an open questioning approach. Questions that engage your thoughts influence the quality of your life. By cultivating an open questioning state of mind, you broaden your universe and improve your ability to travel through it.

It’s easy to talk about having an open mind, but frequently mindsets are constrained by … >>>

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Stress and Student Performance

stress and student performance

Schools and teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet standards. The pressure of taking standardized tests gets passed on to students.

Standardized tests can create crippling anxiety in students, and anxious kids perform below their true abilities. Students with test anxiety manage to get something down on paper, but their capacity to think clearly and solve problems accurately is reduced by their nervousness. This anxiety can expand to college admissions exams and lead to reduced motivation.

Even little kids aren’t immune to test anxiety. Researchers have seen evidence of it in students as young as first and second graders. Their worries tend to manifest in nonverbal signs such as stomach aces, difficulty sleeping, and a persistent urge to … >>>

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Know the Opportunity Costs to Reduce Stress

stress and opportunity costs

One way to reduce stress is to realize that everything in life has a price. The key to reducing stress is knowing the price beforehand and being willing to pay the price.

I’m not talking about actual dollars and cents here. I’m talking about the emotional, mental, or physical costs for every action you take.

For example, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s great technology universities, new students are asked to choose two from the following: friends, grades, or sleep.

The point, of course, is that one cannot have all three.

The concept that “everything has a price” is similar to “opportunity costs” that economists use. For example, if you watch a television program, rather than … >>>

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Take a Break from Your Stress

take a break from stress

We can all benefit from taking an occasional break from our daily stress. Think about how much stress you are carrying around every day. While stress is inevitable in today’s world, how much you carry with you, and for how long, can have significant negative effects on your health.

I once heard the following analogy, which really put this topic in perspective.

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question: “Half empty or half full?”

She fooled them all. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers ranged from 8 … >>>

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Self-Acceptance Reduces Stress

Piece of paper stating "your are good enough" to show that self-acceptance can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Many people struggle with self-acceptance. In other words, too many people are searching for acceptance outside of themselves when they haven’t yet learned to accept themselves. Self-acceptance means being okay with WHO you are. It means being kind to yourself even when you make mistakes, fail, or do something that you later regret. When you practice self-acceptance, you reduce your stress level greatly.

Self-acceptance is a close relative to self-esteem. It is difficult to have one without the other, and, if you have one, you will tend to have the other. There may be many reasons why people have low self-acceptance, but most fall into one or more the following areas:

  • A desire to be perfect
  • A focus on imperfections
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Happiness Should Be a High Priority

Happiness

Happiness should be a high priority in your life. You even have a responsibility to yourself to participate in those activities that bring you satisfaction leading to your own happiness.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Some authors on the subject of happiness even go so far as asserting that people have a moral obligation to be happy. The reason is rather obvious. Happy people do far more good than unhappy people. When you are happy, you have a positive effect on people. When you are unhappy, you also influence—but in a negative way.

Reflect on what life has given you. You will soon start to be grateful—and … >>>

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Creativity Reduces Stress

Creativity Reduces Stress

I’ve long believed that creativity reduces stress. Turns out that I’m not the only one. Researchers have long been studying the connection between health and personality traits. Openness—which links to creativity and measures flexibility and willingness to entertain novel ideas—has emerged as a life-long protective factor. It seems that creativity reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy.

Of the personality traits, only creativity decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is a protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain.

Because the brain is the command center for all bodily functions, exercising it helps all systems to continue running smoothly. Keeping the brain healthy may be one of the most important aspects … >>>

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Dr. Marvin Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
Marv@MarvinMarshall.com
Dr. Marshall's Stress Management Monthly Newsletter and his Stress Management Video Tips covers topics on how to reduce stress in daily life, work, and relationships. SUBSCRIBE NOW
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