In these days, up to 40% young people to 80% workers report stress. Where does the stress come from? One time, a friend of mine complained of feeling stressed. Then he pointed out how loud his girls were speaking. To me, that was perfectly normal. Stress can come from external world as well as our own beliefs, standards, perceptions and health.
Stress can also be a good motivator, and let us fly to the moon. This mechanism helps some people recover from severe injuries since stress can increase blood flow to 300% to 400% in the brain, lungs and muscles. It takes skills to keep a good balance, not to get over strained, nor age fast.
Stress costs U.S. corporations $300 billion annually in medical costs, turnover and absenteeism (American Institute of Stress 2006), and makes 52% companies struggle to retain their top employees (Watson Wyatt 2007). In addition, stress can disable our clear thinking, the key to solutions and productivity.
Stress relievers at work, such as plan for the unexpected and yoga in the conference room, and stress-relieving workouts, like biking and brisk walking, are important. It would be better if we can increase personal control, and look into the underlying problems while having a personal relaxation hierarchy to relax efficiently from airline delay to Second War World II.
There was an article about stress management for a disabled lady who lived on second floor and had a hard time to get out. While she could benefit from many relaxation exercises, her deep problem remains -- isolation, physical and psychological, which made her more vulnerable to stress. Stress is the most severe when an individual has high demand and little control, proven by research. What she needs most is an easy access for her wheel chair, so she would have more control and enjoy more outdoor activities. Volunteering for charity can help her further.
Having a good insights of self and others can not only eliminate the stress created by our own, but also save a lot of future stress. A high school principal in New York disciplined one student who was then sent to prison. After he got out of jail, the student went back to school to revenge the principal. The principal answered the student's hot button push, unfortunately, lost his control and put his career in jeopardy.
Sometimes, an "unconventional" solution just works better. A huge family "mess" stressed out an attorney. One big issue was that his sister sued them. His parents favored him over his sister, and gave him nearly 90% of the inheritance. The sister filed one lawsuit after another to fight for her share. No family fund had been set up, which could spare usually 20-45% of parents' assets when they died. If they could give her part of the estate tax, the sister would be happy to drop all the lawsuits. The legal solution is the simplest way here to alleviate their stress, and make it easier to look into the underlying problem. The attorney was speechless.
An extra piece of knowledge can be the most powerful stress switcher. A poor man ran into an abusive officer who loved to gain her pleasure "legally" out of his misery because his social class and gifts were "superior to hers." He had tried several ways and failed. At the end, he lost his sleep and appetite once he knew her coming. The poor man was pleased with his finding after I raised the question of "territory" and quickly moved out of her "jurisdiction."
To eliminate stress may be hard but possible. One physician suffered a sever head injury that every expert predicted 100% and permanent disability. Cognitive ability to an MD is like running ability to a Marathon athlete -- life or death. None of the stress relievers, from deep breathing, to painting, to horseback riding, to massage ... could spare the pain or stress permanently, but bought her the time and mind to try everything that we could possibly find. At the end, the doctor fully recovered, and did excellent in her practice. For someone who would rather die than be disabled,to recover fully is the only solution. Her will and personal relaxation hierarchy helped to find her the tools to eliminate her deep stress.
We can also "artificially" eliminate the stress. A CEO suffered newly onset insomnia due to her business. Neither her personal relaxation methods nor sleeping pills could work -- it was the feeling of insecure stressed her most. Sleep is very important to productivity, wellness and beauty. However, she would not have the "real" sense of security until her business thrived. She chose self-hypnosis over several ways and placed her faith as "the sense of security" directly into her unconscious. From the day of the installation, she could sleep like a log at night. Her business has grown bigger and bigger.
Stress can also be transformed. Here is my favorite case. A physician could not overcome severe depression two years after he lost his wife. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning, asked the doctor what would have happened if he had died first, and his wife had had to survive him. The doctor said that would be terrible to her to suffer. After Dr. Frankl told the patient that it was his suffering that had spared his wife's, the patient said nothing but shook Dr. Frankl's hand and left calmly. Nobody could revive the patient's wife, but the meaning that Dr. Frankl had found transformed the stress into something worth bearing. Bad things can happen to good people. The stress can be a door opener if we can find its good meaning.
The above are sample cases used at The Prince Synergy. You can tell that stress can come from external worlds as well as our own mind, health and our relations with external and internal world. We can utilize stress, prevent stress, relax well from stress, and ultimately handle stress efficiently at different stages. We don't have to let stress govern our life. Furthermore, we can reduce medical costs, turnover and absenteeism, yet enjoy better work/life balance, look and feel young.
Bin Yang, MD, has founded The Prince Synergy, and is the top expert in Forbes, Smart Money to discuss stress in businesses and schools. You may get more info about its Stress to Success Program and other programs at its website, http://www.ThePrinceSynergy.com
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