What is Your Stress Talk?

What is Your Stress Talk?

02/18/15 James Winston

We live in a fast-paced world and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Rushing to work, meeting strict deadlines, increased workloads, taking kids to practice and helping them with their homework, fixing dinner, cleaning the house, and dealing with those unforeseen occurrences that throw your already busy schedule into a whirlwind.

Feeling stressed has become part of our fabric. But chronic stress can take its toll and produce a menu of negative impacts. If you are feeling stressed, it is time to slow down and evaluate your stressors and stress symptoms.

Stressors are situations that are perceived as threatening to one’s well-being or position in life. Stressors can trigger the body’s stress response and a series of physiological changes such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, secretion stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine), elevated blood pressure, muscle tension, etc. can occur.

Stress symptoms are how we react to stress. Everyone reacts to stress differently and can manifest with physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral symptoms. These symptoms can include, but not limited to: headaches, muscle fatigue, lack of energy, irritability, withdrawal, worrying, negative thinking, loss of concentration, changes in appetite or sleep, relational problems, substance use, and more. Becoming more aware of your stress will help you be more proactive in managing it. Work through this exercise to identify your stressors, recognize your stress symptoms, and create a stress management plan to better take care of yourself and not let stress take over.

Identify the perceived threat

  • What situations are you finding stressful?
  • Is it a real or perceived threat?
  • Reframe the stressor in your mind.

Start by knowing yourself

  • How do you know when you are stressed?
  • How do you act/react when stressed?
  • Create a list of the positive and negative ways you deal with stress.

Ask for feedback

  • Ask a few people that you trust how they see you coping with stress.
  • What are some areas you can improve?
  • What are some positive behaviors you can continue?

Looking outside of you

  • Identify a few people that you see coping with stress.
  • What are the positive ways they cope with stress?
  • Which, if any, of these positive coping skills can you imitate?

Create a plan

  • Choose one behavior that you would like to change.
  • Identify two opportunities to implement the behavior each week.
  • Discuss your plan with a trusted co-worker so that they can help you stay accountable to the change.


  • After practicing your positive behavior for a couple of weeks, ask yourself what went well? What can you continue to work on?
  • Did you identify new opportunities for change?
  • What were barriers to your success?
  • Repeat positive behaviors.


  • Be patient with yourself; change can be hard.
  • Be persistent. Re-evaluate and try again.
  • Take care of yourself—body, mind, and spirit.

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