From Stress To Strength

Stress is inevitable but we can improve our ability to cope witih it and respond positively to it.

Published October 26, 2011 06:20

From Stress To Strength
Andy Murray

Stress is our internal response to any situation we find challenging. It is a part of life. We cannot eliminate stress but we can learn to recognize and cope with it. Stress results when we have an imbalance between the demands we have to meet and the resources we have available to help us cope with those demands.

Everyone reacts to situations differently. What may be stressful for one person may not be for another. Although we cannot change many of the things that cause stress in our lives, we do have the power to change the effect of the stress when we manage our response to the challenges that we face and we use healthy resources.

We can improve our ability to cope with and respond positively to stress by using stress management skills. These skills do not eliminate stress in our lives; when practiced regularly, they assist to reduce its negative effects.

Understanding the Effects of Stress

When there is a high demand upon you and you have low control of the situation (your resources and what you can do about it), you will feel stress.
• Stress is a normal response.
• With effective stress management, you can learn to successfully deal with the first stage, the alarm response, and avoid getting to more chronic states of stress that can damage your health.

Stages of Stress

Stress Stages Description How It Feels
Alarm The "Flight and Fright" response. Our necessary physiological response to stress. Muscles tighten; blood pressure and heart rate rise; breathing rate increases. We are ready to run away or fight off danger. •Restlessness
• Nervous, worried
• Irritable and angry
• Sad
• Fearful
Resistance The stress hormones responsible for the initial alarm stage are still circulating. You may experience an increase in negative thoughts and lack of focus and concentration. • Denial of feelings
• Emotional isolation
• Loss of interest and motivation
• Loss of focus and concentration
Exhaustion Chronic exposure to stress hormones negatively affects your mental focus and tennis performance. It increases your risk of injury and of illnesses like stomach ulcers & high blood pressure. • Loss of self confidence
• Difficulty sleeping
• Unusual behavior/ mood changes
• Physical injuries/ illnesses

Stress Control

You are in control of many things that will help you to handle stress better.

Awareness: Learn and accept what your needs are. An honest awareness of your strengths and weaknesses will help. Learn how stress affects you, and pay attention to your inner alarm bells.

Be Assertive: Let others know your needs clearly and calmly. Express your feelings openly and constructively, not aggressively. This helps to avoid a build-up of negative feelings which causes more stress.

Cultivate Self-esteem: Look alert and interested. Smile. Think about your good qualities and give yourself credit for what you do well.

Stop Self Criticism: High achievers are often very critical of themselves and others. Negatively judging yourself or others wastes time and energy and creates stress. If you are not happy with something, work on changing what you can in a positive way.

Know your Values: Keep a sense of humor about all things. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Learn your limits. It's okay to politely say "no". Express your feelings. Work on your spiritual side.

Plan for Success: Focus on the positive, what you do well. Use failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don't let setbacks defeat you.

Take Time Out: Periodize your training. Allow for days off (no tennis, no travel). Have a holiday. Make time for activities you enjoy and aim to have some fun every day.

Maximize Opportunities: Make the most of your time. Learn to prioritize and to set goals. Learn to be assertive. Slow down, don't rush. Listen to feedback openly, not defensively.
Improve your Physical Ability to Cope: Get enough sleep. Follow a balanced nutrition plan. Use recovery techniques like massage, stretching and hydrotherapies to keep your body healthy.

Practice Relaxation: Learn to be mindful and live in the present. Learn and practice muscle relaxation; breathing and imagery.

Seek Help: Recognize that stress can creep up on you.

The contents of the Health site are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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