“Riding the Wave of Stress”

Last night’s Dialogue Night was a wonderful opportunity to learn about a topic that is unavoidable in our lives: stress. And that was a major point of Dr. Kim Painter’s presentation.

Our energy has to “ride the wave” of stress instead of trying to prevent the inevitable. We need to focus on developing strategies that have us actively doing something that changes the level of stress we experience. Dr. Painter offered some recommendations, what she called “Tools for Riding the Wave,” that were listed on a handout with an accompanying explanation. The third column on the document asked the question, “What can you do?” so that individuals can brainstorm what would work for them.

Here are the general concepts:

  • Putting Blinders On: Manage and organize time. Focus on getting something done. Create an environment that is free of distractions. Turn off all electronic devices.
  • Positive Self-Talk: Thinking positively can be helpful. Tell yourself things that will help you ride the wave. Reassure yourself that this situation is temporary and you will be okay. Thoughts and feelings and behaviors are all connected, so ask yourself if what you are doing is helpful.
  • Biological Basics: We all need adequate sleep, healthy nutrition, and exercise as a good outlet for de-stressing. Also do something you enjoy.
  • Dump and Do: Venting to someone who understands makes us feel better, but put a limit on it and then get something else done.
  • Big Picture: Try to see how things all fit together in your life and ask, “Is this a big deal or a little deal?”
  • Growing and Shrinking Stress: What things do you do to make stress worse? How do you shrink stress? We have to learn how to cope by increasing our “distress tolerance” which means sitting with uncomfortable emotions in situations we cannot change and be okay with that temporarily before we accept and move on.

These strategies adults and students alike can practice as we deal with stressful situations. We are grateful to Dr. Painter for volunteering her time and expertise on Dialogue Night and for helping our guidance and peer leadership staff and students organize a highly successful program attended by 290 parents and students.

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