Tag Archives: whole person

Commitment versus Surrender

Commitment is your belief system in action. It is the decision to invest in particular goals, values, beliefs, and concepts. It seems as though there are a million things you want to do with your life, and even more you have to do. These want-to’s and have-to’s in life create stress if you don’t make good decisions about which is which. You’ll feel stressed if you only pay attention to either one.  Maybe you try too hard to do it all. If you find yourself saying there isn’t enough time, then you’ve got too much on your plate. It can make you feel panicked, rushed, and overwhelmed. On the other hand, having too little on your plate leaves you feeling unchallenged, bored, and depressed.

If you’ve taken on too much, you need to surrender something. We don’t like to surrender. We hate feeling  we had to give in or that we lost, but surrendering isn’t failing or losing. It’s the flip side of commitment, not the opposite of winning. It’s adjusting, and it can be as simple as changing your pace or realizing when a commitment is unrealistic.

  • Are you trying too hard to include all the want-to’s and  have-to’s  in your limited time?
  • Is there anything you want to surrender?  Need to surrender?

Understanding Self-Concept

Kicking Your Stress HabitsAnother part of your belief system is your self-concept. These are subjective ideas that are stuck in your head about yourself. Self-concept includes ideas about your limitations, abilities, appearance, emotional resources, your place in the world, potential, and even your worthiness. These alter your everyday choices and model the way you think. As an example, you may think you’re a lousy public speaker, but it turns out you’re really great. You, however, believe you’re no good at addressing a group, so you turn down an opportunity to speak at a conference even though it could do wonders for your career. You doubt your own ability so you opt out, and limit your potential.

Self-concept begins in childhood and is reinforced throughout your life based on your experiences. Perceptions about your own worth are very slow to change, even with a lot of positive reinforcement. When your self-concept isn’t in sync with reality you will feel distress. Others will have expectations and beliefs about you with which you are uncomfortable. You will constantly feel  as though you’re not prepared for situations like the conference. How stressed would you be if you had to give a speech anyway and you had no trust in your abilities?

  • Do you often feel as though you’re out of place?
  • Have you begun to realize some of your perceptions don’t match reality?

Faith, Stress, and You

Kicking Your Holiday Stress HabitsFaith isn’t necessarily religious. Many people have faith in God, but people also have faith in the Golden Rule, in Karma, in our spouses, in our grandma’s favorite phrase, or in the idea that family comes first.  All of these are examples of faith and beliefs. These directly influence how you act. For example, If you genuinely believe that all are forgiven, you will forgive people more easily and sincerely.

Faith can be a great cause of distress for many people, especially when people have outdated or irrational beliefs. An outdated belief might be something such as continuing to believe you must not talk to strangers because you were taught not to do so as a child. An irrational belief is something such as  “If everyone tries hard, they can do everything perfectly”.  That kind of faith in people creates a lot of distress when someone somewhere messes up.  Faith takes many forms, and while it can be a great comfort and a huge factor in our lives, it can also cause extra distress.

  • What do you have faith in?
  • What kind of beliefs do you hold close?
  • Does your faith ever cause problems for you in your everyday life?

DECEMBER Monthly Special

Dear Friends:Carlene Sippola

As a thank you to our loyal customers, our special this month is 25% discount on all our products*. Year-end is a great time to take stock of the materials you have and order new ones. Simply enter DECEMBER (expires 12/2010) in the coupon code as you check out, and the discount will automatically be applied.

The Ready-to-Run Workshops are now available in two formats: Print version and as an E-book. We’ll be expanding E-book offerings over the next year. Stay tuned!

Don’t forget to check out the website. Navigation buttons have been moved to the right of the home page for easier access. Many products now allow you a look inside the cover. New articles are posted to the blog regularly, special deals are in the clearance room, and, of course, you can order our monthly specials with a couple of quick clicks.

We at Whole Person Associates wish you and yours a joy-filled holiday season!

Carlene Sippola


*Excluding Kicking Your Holiday Stress Habits and The Mental Health & Life Skills Collection.

Offer not valid with any other offer.

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Bonus Special!

50% discount.

Check our website for details.

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Visit our website for over 200 training, self-help, therapeutic and workshop development resources. Click here.

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December Special!

25% discount on all Whole Person Products.

Start out the new year with exciting new tools. Stock up now on professional resources in stress management, wellness promotion, relaxation, self-help, mental health activity books, coaching, and much more.

Offer excludes Kicking Your Holiday Stress Habits and the Mental Health & Life Skills Collection.

Dear Friends:

As a thank you to our loyal customers, our special this month is 25% discount on all our products*. Year-end is a great time to take stock of the materials you have and order new ones. Simply enter DECEMBER in the coupon code as you check out, and the discount will automatically be applied.

The Ready-to-Run Workshops are now available in two formats: Print version and as an E-book. We’ll be expanding E-book offerings over the next year. Stay tuned!

Don’t forget to check out the website. Navigation buttons have been moved to the right of the home page for easier access. Many products now allow you a look inside the cover. New articles are posted to the blog regularly, special deals are in the clearance room, and, of course, you can order our monthly specials with a couple of quick clicks.

We at Whole Person Associates wish you and yours a joy-filled holiday season!

Carlene Sippola


*Excluding Kicking Your Holiday Stress Habits and The Mental Health & Life Skills Collection.

Offer not valid with any other offer.

The Values in Your Life

Have you ever been in an argument where you found yourself fighting against something, but you’re not sure why? You can only explain that it’s what’s right. This is an example of a value coming to the surface. Values are what help you define the things you find important in your life. Understanding your goals, faith, and self-concept are more straightforward.  Your goals are a conscious decision; values are a model of thought and behavior. Values are right under the surface, where they affect your actions but you aren’t consciously aware of them. You probably won’t notice values until they’ve been challenged.

Values cause distress when they clash with other values – sometimes those of others around you and sometimes against your own.  Perhaps you value friendship, and you also value having down time.  So, if you get a call from a friend who wants to go out while you’re relaxing, you will want to do both, and end up feeling bad if you stay home, but ruffled if you go out. Examine your actions and reactions to find out your values.

  • What sort of things get your attention?
  • What kinds of things irk you?
  • What makes you upset, or tired, or excited?

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Your Goals and Your Stress

Kicking Your Stress Habits

Goals help you decide how to use your time and energy. They are motivators for long or short term plans. Some goals are concrete; get a degree, clean the refrigerator, get an oil change. Others aren’t as clear cut; be a good friend, increase self-esteem, be happy. You may feel distress if you don’t spend time on the goals that matter to you. Maybe you want to get a degree, but you feel trapped by your full time job. Your goal of getting your degree is making you feel pinched at work and panicked that you’ll never have time.

Having conflicting goals, or too many a once can also cause distress. If you are unsure of what your goals are, you will drift from one meaningless task to the next. A vague uneasiness is associated with a lack of goals, rather like that nagging feel when you think you’ve forgotten something.

Do you have too many goals? Too few? You may be comfortable with one goal to work consistently on, or you may prefer to have as many goals as hours in a day. We all have to figure out exactly what number of goals we each individually feel good about committing to; everyone is different.

  • What kind of goals do you have?
  • What kind of goals would you like to have?
  • Is this a good amount for you?

Kicking Your Holiday Stress Habits

Stuffing yourself on Thanksgiving can add pounds

I asked my husband what I should write about for Thanksgiving week and his immediate response was, “the turkeys in our lives.” After I stopped laughing I decided to focus on the real Thanksgiving turkey.

To stuff yourself or not to stuff yourself on Thanksgiving, that is the question.

There’s a part of me that says, “Oh what the heck, it’s only once a year.” Then the responsible-me remembers how miserable I feel when I overeat. Plus, my husband and I have Thanksgiving, Christmas, both of our birthdays and our anniversary from mid November to New Year’s Eve. So we can careen from one reason to overdo it to another and find ourselves on January 1 feeling like stuffed turkeys.

To counter this, in early January every year for two days, we eat nothing but apples. We purge ourselves of all of the stuff we’ve eaten since my husband’s birthday. It feels good. I’ve been doing it since the late 1960s.

But I also consciously remind myself throughout the holiday season how uncomfortable it feels to overindulge. Plus I don’t want the added weight to add up over the years, which would require that I shop for new clothes, something I hate to do.

Remembering Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean phrase, “Moderation in all things,” can help, too.

Think of this immoderate estimate of how many calories the average American eats on Thanksgiving Day:
* More than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat! (Source: Caloric Control Council)
* The Council finds that most of these calories come from all-day snacking in front of the TV watching parades and football games.
* FYI: one pound equals about 3,500 calories.

The National Institutes of Health and the Medical University of South Carolina found that the average person’s weight gain over the holidays is just over one pound. So, it’s OK to eat anything and everything you want since one pound is not much, right?

But the researchers also found that 85% of study participants still carried that extra pound one year later. If you gain and retain an extra pound each year they’ll add up. Duh!

Striving for balance and moderation is usually good advice no matter the concern. So if you eat too much lefse (the Norwegian delicacy I make for my family) over the holidays try making it last longer than just for the holidays. If you drink too much alcohol maybe you should consider setting a limit on how much you allow yourself. If you feel uncomfortable when you overeat why not use a small dinner plate and fill it only once?

So, what, if anything, will you do to avoid overindulging on Thanksgiving? Whichever choices you make, make them conscious ones. Identify what would define moderation for you. Then over the holiday weekend and for the next month keep an eye on yourself (without obsessing) and set appropriate limitation on your excesses.

Above all, enjoy Thanksgiving and all that it represents.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Stress Energy Economics

You are one person and you are subject to limited energy. Many of us use too much of our valuable energy when we don’t want or mean to. Overspending your energy is an unhealthy habit shared by a lot of us. If you panic when you can’t find your keys, or get angry when someone cuts in line, or you keep fighting a lost battle, you are overspending your limited energy. You can underspend your energy too. This would be something like if you were to allow a relationship to disintegrate, if you were turning a blind eye to something you could fix. Underspending and overspending are both problems.

You can see if you are wasting your stress energy, or not using enough of it by asking yourself three questions. First, does a threat really exist? Second, is the issue important? Third, can I make a difference?

If you answer no to any of these, it isn’t worth getting stressed over. If you answer yes to all of these, then it’s a good reason to use your energy.

  • What sort of things are worth using your stress energy?
  • What kind of things aren’t?
  • How often do you waste stress energy?

Kicking Your Stress Habits

Stress: A Matter of Perception

Stress can be caused by events, which will produce different reactions in each of us. Events are not good or bad within themselves, but our needs and experiences add context to them. The personal lens that we see events through can make them stressful.

Every day you face events that you either see as threatening or non-threatening. Which one it is depends on the perception habits you’ve learned.  These are learned from a young age; you absorb them from people around you. If your parents fought about money, you’re likely to feel finances are stressful. There are many factors that change your perceptions growing up, like your peers, your geographic location, economic status, etc. If you judge an event as threatening, you’ll feel distress. Your unique perceptions change the amount of threat from an event; seeing a large dog may not threaten you at all, but may cause distress for your friend who was bitten by a dog. The amount of distress from an event will change, depending on the level of value you place on what’s being threatened. Maybe you don’t feel threatened by having to miss going out with friends for a work function. But if it were your best friend’s birthday you were missing for work, you would probably feel bad. Perception habits are hard to change, but being aware of them can help you reduce your distress.

  • What kind of perception habits do you have?

Kicking Your Stress Habits

Assess your emotions before a confrontation

Let Your Body WinYou swear you’re prepared to speak calmly and professionally to a coworker you believe is intentionally sabotaging you. But the second you open your mouth to say something, BAM! you’re practically yelling at him! The first moments of an encounter set the stage for the entire conversation and you know you’ve blown it. But how can you control your aggression?

Use advice from the great book, “Crucial Conversations” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (McGraw-Hill, 2002.)

Defensive emotions once engaged are difficult to turn off. And the more defensive you are the more convinced you are that you’re right, giving more fuel to your emotions. If you’ve blown it you may want to apologize and arrange to talk later after you privately take responsibility for your emotions. Here’s how.

Last week I wrote about the book’s advice to identify the other person’s behavior and ask yourself why s/he is behaving that way. Your answer is what actually causes your emotions, not the other person’s behavior. It’s vital to understand this so you can move beyond your defensiveness.

For example, you and I are working on a project together. I discover that you’ve met privately with our boss. Plus, when we both attend meetings you “hog” the time, making it seem like you’re in charge of the project, which you’re not.

“Why” do I think you’re hogging the limelight and excluding me from meetings? My answer: “Because you want all of the credit.” Doesn’t this assumption fuel my anger and resentment?

But just because I believe this doesn’t make it true. If my “why” answer is defensive and judgmental, which it is, I need to identify your behaviors and the facts of the situation before speaking to you.
* Fact/behavior: you had two meetings with the boss that I wasn’t notified of so couldn’t attend. You didn’t inform me later either.
* Fact/behavior: when we presented our idea together you spoke for several minutes while I spoke far less.

Separating the facts and your behaviors from my assumption that you want all of the credit balances me emotionally. I feel more in the driver’s seat of my own life, which decreases my stress therefore my defensiveness. I can assertively speak to you by using this formula:
1. State the facts from my point of view;
2. My interpretation of their meaning;
3. How I feel about it;
4. Ask if I understand correctly.

E.g., “Tom, you didn’t inform me of the meetings you had privately with the boss. This makes me think excluding me was intentional. I felt resentment and was hurt by this. Was I purposefully excluded and if so, why?”

Substituting my assumptions (“hogging” and “wanting all the credit”) with the facts of the situation including your behavior plus using this formula to address my concerns can help balance me so I’m less likely to become instantly defensive.

Next week we’ll look at additional ideas to improve your ability to handle your “crucial conversations.”

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Anger may be an emotional castle built on sand

The Importance of Crucial Conversations
Jacquelyn Ferguson, MS

Do you avoid difficult workplace (or personal) conversations where you fear the outcome will be uncomfortable? If so, read “Crucial Conversations” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (McGraw-Hill, 2002.)

According to these authors an organization’s effectiveness is strongly determined by its employees’ willingness to have crucial conversations. They found in the worst organizations poor performers are ignored then transferred. In good organizations supervisors eventually handle problem situations. In high performing organizations’ employees willingly and effectively speak to someone who fails to deliver on promises. Everyone is held accountable regardless of their level.

Difficult conversations usually trigger your stress cycle; therefore defensive behavior (my words not theirs,) bring out your worst behavior (their words). What’s your worst behavior? It’s not pretty, is it? You’d probably be as embarrassed as I to have people you respect see you behave that way.

To move beyond your automatic, defensive reactions and your worst behavior determine what – or whom – is actually causing your problem. Is it really that co-worker who aggravates you so, or might it your own interpretation of that person?

I’ve frequently written about how negative judgments of others trigger your worst behavior. These authors approach this formula differently, which may help you see that your own interpretations determine your emotional reactions and behavior.

Their advice is to ask yourself why the other person is behaving as he is. A simple example from a program I recently presented, “Collaborative Communication.” During our lunch break an attendee had to wait a long time at a Subway shop where there was only one employee working. He was doing his best and actually, according to my attendee, was doing quite well. He waited on four people at a time, taking each sandwich through the same steps together. All four customers had to wait for all four sandwiches to be made together.

Upon his return to our classroom, my attendee explained his own impatience was because the employee was disorganized (negative judgment). In my attendee’s mind, it was the employee’s disorganization that made the attendee impatient. Another attendee offered a different perspective. She suggested that the Subway employee probably didn’t want to take off and put on his plastic gloves repeatedly, so he made multiple sandwiches together. My attendee thought this seemed a likely explanation and said he probably wouldn’t have been impatient if he’d looked at it that way.

In other words, the label “disorganized” is what caused the attendee to become impatient, not the Subway employee’s system.

Who drives you the most nuts? Why is that person doing what he’s doing? Your explanation, your “why,” triggers your emotions therefore you reaction. The other person doesn’t make you feel as you do, therefore cannot be responsible for your reaction.

To have an important conversation that you’re now avoiding, prepare for it by asking yourself, “What’s your problem person’s behavior and why is he acting that way?” Next week I’ll address how to handle your negative why.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

Wellness Coaching Reviews

Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle ChangeINSPIRING, INSTRUCTIVE, INDISPENSIBLE

“Inspiring because Dr. Arloski strengthens my belief that we can help people get past the obstacles that keep them from seeking a deep sense of wellness. And because he teaches us how to inspire positive change in others.

Instructive because the book shows us the psychological stages people pass through as they attempt, and hopefully succeed, at creating lasting lifestyle change; we just need to stay with them as they move along the path.

And indispensible because it’s the perfect handbook for health and wellness professionals to keep handy; to remind themselves to review the steps, to stay with the client where they are and to ride out the waves of change with patience, compassion and joy.”

-Suzanne Ballantyne

A book to come back to time and again

“If you are a Health and Wellness Coach you will want to have this invaluable book by your side. I’ve read just about every book there is on health and wellness coaching, I’ve even written one myself and this is still the best.

-Anne Marshall, Author of The Health Factor: Coach Yourself To Better Health

To be happy consider strengths

Live, appreciate your strong suits
By Jacquelyn Ferguson, MSJacquelyn Ferguson

Dr. Martin Seligman, University of PA author of “Authentic Happiness” and a Positive Psychology pioneer, says happiness is strongly enhanced by three factors:
* Feeling better about your past;
* Thinking more optimistically about your future;
* Experiencing more contentment in the present.

To be happier in the moment Seligman advises you to avoid shortcuts to happiness: sensory experiences accompanied by strong emotions (ecstasy, orgasm, thrills, delight,) like eating hot fudge sundaes, having sex, or watching spectator sports. These pleasures give you upticks in happiness but fade quickly.

It’s much better to seek gratifications, which are activities you do for the sake of doing them. They involve thinking and require stretching your skills to improve.

Gratifications will bring you greater ongoing happiness when they are an expression of your signature strengths. (Take Seligman’s VIA Strengths Survey @ www.authentichappiness.org to discover your own.) All of these strengths are very positive. Living your life expressing your top five or so makes you much happier – so much so that you can stop focusing on fixing what’s supposedly wrong with you. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? These strengths include:

Wisdom and Knowledge: Courage:

Curiosity Valor
Love of learning Perseverance
Judgment Integrity
Social intelligence

Humanity and Love: Justice:

Kindness Citizenship
Loving Fairness

Temperance: Transcendence:

Self-control Appreciation of beauty
Prudence Gratitude
Humility Hope

For example, my top five strengths identified by taking his assessment two years ago and again recently, are:
* Integrity;
* Curiosity;
* Zest;
* Loving;
* Gratitude;

These strengths have strongly influenced my choices, thereby my happiness.

  • Integrity: Hopefully those who know me well would say that I have integrity. Just a small example is that lying is virtually impossible for me. I also deliver what I promise, etc.
  • Curiosity: I love my work and have great curiosity in all the workshop and speech topics I present (not to mention this column.) In fact, I won’t present topics that don’t interest me.
    * Zest: Researching areas that fascinate me gives me great zest or energy and passion for presenting information to others.
  • Loving: I’m fortunate to have a wonderful husband and great friends and family. Throughout my entire life I’ve had abundant loving relationships.
  • Gratitude: All of my life I’ve been a very grateful person, which is an effective buffer against depression, according to Seligman.
  • I truly have a great life; and not because of money or possessions nor quick pleasures – although I do love watching MN Vikings’ games. My happiness and contentment come from living what is to me an interesting life; one of my own choosing and designing, therefore authentic.

Identify your own signature strengths by taking Seligman’s assessment, then figure out how you already live these and consciously appreciate that. Seek even greater happiness by looking for additional ways to express your strengths. If authentic happiness is your goal, living your strengths is your strategy.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.

How to become more optimistic about future

Can I learn to be Optimistic?
By Jacquelyn Ferguson MS

Would more money, a nicer house or better health make you more content? Are these the same things that satisfy happier people, too? If not, what can we learn from them to become happier ourselves?

The Positive Psychology movement finds that you’ll get the most bang for your happiness buck by changing how you:
* Feel about your past
* Think about your future
* Experience your present

So let’s look to your future.

Future-oriented positive emotions include:
* Optimism
* Faith
* Hope
* Trust

You must be fairly optimistic for these emotions to augment your happiness. Optimism is hope about your prospects. In these tough times it’s more difficult to remain hopeful, yet many do.

Dr. Martin Seligman, the University of PA pioneer of Positive Psychology, author of “Learned Optimism” and “Authentic Happiness,” and world renown optimism/pessimism researcher, has shown through extensive research that optimists and pessimists interpret events very differently. Pessimists are more realistic but optimists are more resilient, healthier and may live longer, and are better at work and in sports.

Seligman has narrowed down becoming more optimistic to changing how you explain why good and bad things happen to you through two dimensions of your “Explanatory Style:”
* Permanence versus temporary: for how long do you give up?
* Pervasiveness – universal versus specific: how much of your life is affected by events?

Permanence vs. temporary: Pessimists see causes of bad events as permanent, such as not getting a job interviewed for – “I’m all washed up.”

Optimists use temporary terminology to explain “I wasn’t on for that interview.”

Whose stress lasts longer? Who’s going to give up more easily? Being washed up sounds very permanent.

Pessimists also use expansive and exaggerated words like “always” and “never” such as “I’ll never get a job.”

Optimists use “sometimes” and “lately” such as “I’ve had some bad interviews lately.”

Opposite terminology is used when something good happens.

Pessimists use temporary terminology to explain why something good happened – “I’m lucky to get this job.”

Optimist use permanent causes for good events – “I’m the best candidate for this job.”

The second dimension of your Explanatory Style is Pervasive: how much of your life is affected by an event?

For bad events pessimists explain with universal terms and may feel helpless in multiple areas of their lives, like not getting the job:
* “I’m such a loser.”

Optimists use specific explanations and limit any helplessness to the bad event – “I wasn’t feeling well that day.”
Who is more resilient for the next interview?

Pessimists use specific reasons to explain why something good happened – “I got the job because I’m good at math.”

Optimists use universal reasons – “I got the job because I’m smart.”

So, to become more optimistic and happier about your future explain bad events with temporary and specific causes and good events with permanent and universal ones.
Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple.LetYourBodyWin.gif

Relabeling – Another Angle on Stress

Relabeling – A positive coping skill
From Kicking Your Stress Habits
By Donald A. Tubesing, PhD, MDiv.

You wake up. You’re in a good mood for a Monday. You get ready for work and head out the door. Three hours later, your head is on your desk and you want to go back to bed. What went wrong?  You may not realize you assigned an event a good or bad value until you find yourself stressed and wondering that very question. What did go wrong? Thinking back, you see that you started feeling stressed when a friend you work with walked by without saying hello. After that, you started feeling gloomy.

So, you’re feeling threatened because you fear that you’ve lost the respect of a friend. In this situation, you can try relabeling—looking at an event from another, more positive point of view. Rather than instantly jump to the conclusion she was ignoring you, think about other reasons she may not have noticed you. Maybe she was on the phone, or had a headache. When you’ve calmed down, you can asked her about it. Most likely, there was no actual threat, and relabeling can help you calm down enough to see that.Relaxed frog

Relabeling is not always right. While you can relabel some situations, don’t relabel getting mugged as meeting someone new.  When you identify a threat, you will know it; use the adrenaline boost from the stress to get out of the situation, or fix it.

Kicking Your Stress Habits Cover

Negative Coping Skills

Negative Coping Skills
From Kicking Your Stress Habits
By Donald A. Tubesing, PhD, MDiv

How do you handle stress? The different ways we tackle stress are called coping skills. There are two kinds of these skills. Positive skills are ones that energize you, like exercising or laughing with a friend. The other set are negative skills that leave you feeling worse, like drinking or ignoring your stress.

Say you react to stress by turning a blind eye to it. You will end up drained from all the effort you’re putting into ignoring your stress. This only makes you feel worse, leaving you with even less energy. See the pattern? You have less energy and you still haven’t solved your problem. The drained feeling you get from stress can lead to illness—up to 90% are caused by stress alone! Can you imagine being sick 90% less? Consistent stress can cause peptic ulcers, chronic headaches, anxiety, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. Thinking about that alone is downright stressful!  On the other hand, if you choose a positive coping skill, you will regain energy rather than just spending it. Then you have more energy to put into things you enjoy, which will help you relax even more. This is also a pattern, but an infinitely better one.

  • What kind of coping skills do you have?
  • Are they positive or negative?
  • Have they changed over the years?

~For more information on this subject, click here.

Kicking Your Stress Habits Cover

Emotional Masks Exercise

Emotion Masks
by Amy Nuelk
An activity for sharing feelings when a child loses a loved one
From Children and Stress by Marty Loy

Emotions and feelings are an integral part of everyday life. When children lose a loved one, they may feel very sad or even angry about the situation. This activity is designed to allow children to recall memories they have about a recently deceased loved one through
story telling and discussion with others who are experiencing a similar situation.

After participating in Emotion Masks, children will be able to:
• Openly discuss memories they have about a lost loved one .
• Effectively relieve stress children may be feeling as a result of the death of a loved one.
• Recognize that others in similar situations may be experiencing the same emotions.

TIME 30–45 minutes

Old magazines, scissors, glue, paper plates (3 per child), Popsicle sticks.
The children are asked to recall three different emotions. Have them look through
magazines and cut out pictures that illustrate each of the three emotions. Each picture is
glued to one of the three paper plates, which will become emotion masks. The children
are invited to share a personal story or experience they had with the deceased loved one
that involves each of the three emotions.
1. Each child receives three paper plates and three Popsicle sticks
2. The children look through magazines and find a picture that portrays each of three
distinct emotions (For example: anger, sadness, joy, etc.)
3. Glue each picture to a paper plate and glue a Popsicle stick to the back of each plate
4. The children are invited to share each of their emotion masks and discuss why each
emotion was chosen. They can also describe an experience they had with the deceased
loved one that included that emotion (For example: “I was always really happy when
Grandma and I used to bake chocolate chip cookies together.”)
5. Allow time for participants to engage in discussion with others.

• What did you learn by participating in this activity?
• Describe how you feel today about the memories you shared with your loved one.
• Who, if anybody, do you talk to during times when you are experiencing
emotions related to losing your loved one?
• Discuss how you could help a friend cope with losing a loved one.

If you’re interested in more exercises from the book Children & Stress by author Marty Loy, PHD, click here.

Children and Stress

Signs of Stress

Signs of Stress
From Kicking Your Stress Habits 
By Donald A. Tubesing, PhD, MDiv

You’re already very familiar with some stress symptoms, but distress can cause a wide range of conditions. Maybe you have some that you didn’t know are stress related. There are five categories the common warning signs of stress can take; physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and relational signs.

Physical Signs Emotional Signs Spiritual Signs Mental Signs Relational Signs
Appetite Change Anxiety Emptiness Forgetfulness Isolation
Headaches Frustration Loss of meaning Dull senses Hiding
Fatigue Feeling blue Doubt Low productivity Resentment
Insomnia Mood swings Acting Unforgiving Negative attitude Loneliness
Weight Change Bad temper Martyrdom Confusion Lashing out
Illness Nightmares Searching for miracles/magic Lethargy Intolerance to other’s feelings
Muscle pain Crying spells Loss of direction Whirling mind Clamming up
Indigestion Irritability Cynicism No new ideas Lowered sex drive
Pounding heart Easily discouraged Blaming others Boredom Nagging
Accident prone Depression Apathy Spacing out Distrust
Teeth grinding Nervous laughter Intolerance to others’ faith Mental bullying Lack of intimacy
Skin outbreaks Worrying Excessively Feeling abandoned Feeling stupid Using people
Restlessness (eye twitching, foot-tapping, finger-drumming) Feeling like no one cares Needing to prove self Poor concentration Less contact with friends
Increased drug, alcohol, tobacco use Feeling happiness is just out of reach Challenging a higher power Feeling useless Fear of betrayal
  • What stress symptoms have you experienced that you didn’t know were stress related?
  • What are you experiencing now?
  • Is there a category (emotional, relational, etc) that you have more symptoms in than the others?

Kicking Your Stress Habits Cover