Saturday, 14 October 2017

Stress reducing strategies & thinking about positive stress

We were challenged to visually share what we have learned about dealing with stress through self-regulation, and I created two photo collages using online images and PicCollage.  In the first collage are strategies I used to deal with stress before I started this self-reg journey. Often at work, around 2 in the afternoon, I found myself heading upstairs to the vending machine to get a Diet Coke and some junk food to help me power through the afternoon when I was feeling physically and mentally exhausted.  When I got home, I would often mindlessly watch TV and cruise social media, and/or look forward to one (or several) glasses of red wine to relax. 
After starting this self-reg journey, I have healthier ways to deal with stress.  One of my go-to stress relievers is exercise and this is a good example, I think, of the positive stress that Stuart Shanker and Susan Hopkins talk about in some of the MEHRIT centre videos and programs.  I run a half marathon each fall as a motivator to stick with my running program.  I could run 5K a few times a week and that would still be a bonus for my health and help me reduce stress.  But I find the positive stress of setting this big culminating exercise goal is exciting at the same time as it is scary.  I create a 16 week training plan, make sure I'm eating healthy, do my exercises to keep all my joints healthy, and so on.  On race day, I'll be nervous right up until I cross the start line and then, as crazy as it sounds to anyone who's never done it, it's actually FUN!  The last 5K are usually the longest but crossing the finish line and achieving a goal I had to work so hard for make it all worth it. Every year I say I'm never going to do it again.  And then, on New Year's Eve there is a discount for early registration and I find myself signing up for another year!  This year I'm running with my youngest daughter (her first half marathon) and my husband, which makes it even more fun.

When we are talking about stress with parents and students, we need to ensure that we talk about positive stress so that we can counter the image of stress in popular culture where stress is always bad.
Other strategies I use now include taking a walk break when I've been at my desk too long and getting some fresh air, eating more healthy foods and less junk food and setting priorities and then focusing on what's important.  (still red wine and some junk food but in moderation!)  
Before self-reg: Diet coke; junk food; red wine and mindless screen time; 
After self-reg: Exercise; fresh air; eating healthy foods; prioritizing tasks 

Photo credits:
Diet coke -
Vending machine -
Watching TV - shutter stock photo
Red wine -
Exercise -
Fresh air - shutter
Eating healthy -
Prioritize -

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