Lesson 10: Stress Management


Do you sometimes feel like this too?

“I’M SOO S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D OUT”  We’ve all said it or heard it a million times, but what does it mean physiologically to be “stressed?”  How does the connection between mind and body determine our behavior?


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this lesson's material, students will be able to:

  • Identify primary causes of stress
  • Identify ways in which the body and mind react to stress
  • Identify personal crisis management and conflict avoidance strategies
  • Identify solutions to stress and anxiety associated with performance in class
  • Identify ways of coping effectively with stress


Stress Management

The first thing that you have to understand about Stress is that it is not a BAD thing! Stress is a major motivator and if you didn't HAVE to get some things done you would never get to them.

You have learned about TIME MANAGEMENT and FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT...we MANAGE these things because we have TIME and MONEY...we approach stress the same way...we have STRESS, so we need to MANAGE it!

You are going to be under pressure to perform for most of your life, events will happen that are out of your control, you will be faced with making difficult decisions...all of these are facts of life...how we DEAL with them is a major component of our success in life.

The field of Psychology deals deeply with issues around Stress and Stress Management. I've outlined below some basic concepts and thoughts about Stress Management

Approaches to Stress Management

  • Dealing with the cause
  • Acknowledging the demands of others
  • Learning to say No
  • Reframing your thoughts
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Seeking social support
  • Seeking professional support
  • Technology and stress

Take a look at these strategies listed below. Sometimes these strategies identify sources of stress (taking on too much, negative thoughts, not saying "no") and at other times these strategies identify ways that we can deal with the impact of stress by changing our behaviors (changing negative thoughts, diet and exercise, getting enough sleep, re-prioritizing)

Stress Management Program

Uses a variety of strategies to reduce anxiety, fear and stressful experiences.

  • Changing Thoughts
    • Negative self-statements vs. Positive self-statements
      • The thoughts and expectations that you have are self-fullfilling....if you think you are unskilled at something or you are going to fail, then you are probably right
      • If you change the way you THINK about something you will likely change the way you ACT
    • Rational Emotional Behavior Therapy
      • REBT was developed by Albert Ellis and remains a powerful model for understanding the irrational ways that we think and get ourselves in stressful trouble.
      • Click HERE to visit a great site that describes Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy very well
  • Changing Behaviors
    • Emotion Focused Coping
      • Emotions are a form of behavior...although they sometimes feel like they are automatic we do have some degree of control over them.
      • We can make cognitive effort to change the quality of the emotions that we feel under certain circumstances.
    • Behavior Focused Coping
      • This is where behavior planning comes in.
      • Behaviorism was developed to provide people with the tools to change their overt behaviors by rewarding the behaviors they want to have and punishing (or at least not rewarding) the behaviors that they do not want to have
      • Developing concrete personal behavior plans is a skill well worth developing.
      • It simply comes down to rewarding yourself for following your plan...create rewards for yourself each time you accomplish something or even simply get an assignment done.
    • Prioritizing
      • This set of skills has a lot to do with time management, but also with "life management". You might have a lot going on and you have to do a lot of things and sometimes you CAN'T let something go...
      • You may need to be able to accept getting a slightly lower GRADE because you are also a MOM...know what I mean?
  • Changing Physiological Responses
    • Biofeedback
    • Progressive Relaxation
      • Progressive relaxation is a process of slowly entering a relaxed state of mind...simply, a vacation of sorts from the stressors of the day.
      • This takes practice so it is important that you be patient with yourself.
      • Some people experience relaxation through listening to music, engaging in hobbies, etc.
    • Meditation
      • Meditation is a deeper form of relaxation that often requires that you modify the environment that you are doing it in
      • It is not good to meditate in a chaotic environment
      • Yoga and Prayer are examples of meditation from vastly different cultural contexts, but both can have the same far-reaching beneficial effects.
    • Diet
      • Of all the organs in your body, your brain uses up the most energy. It is vital that you eat wholesome nutritional food while you are in school
      • This, again, is a time management issue...you are hurrying from work to school to home, etc. etc. Finding ways to make nutritious snacks instead of stopping in for a Pepsi and Chips will do a lot for the energy your brain needs!
    • Exercise
      • One of the best treatments for stress, and THE best treatment for depression, is exercise
      • Exercise not only makes you more fit, it releases endorphins into your body and releases stress energy that can localize itself in your neck, back, legs, and in your head (headaches)
      • Any exercise, including walking, can bring about beneficial effects
    • Sleep
      • While many people feel they can get away without a lot of sleep it eventually catches up with you
      • For some it comes in the form of poor performance (hopefully it is on a test and not on DRIVING to school!)
      • Your brain needs energy and it needs sleep and breaks from working all the time

Factors Associated with Anxiety

  • Hardiness
  • A combination of three personality traits, control, commitment and challenge, that buffer us form harmful effects of stress
  • Locus of Control
  • Optimism vs. Pessimism
  • Social Support


Lesson 10 Discussion

Consider how you have performed under stress before. What circumstances might lead you to become "stressed out" or "depressed" and thus interfere with your performance in school? List and discuss at least 5 positive and healthy “stress busters” that you could incorporate into your life when you are under these circumstances?