Posts Tagged ‘Stress management’

Every once in a while a strange thing happens, you have an odd idea. Here is mine…. I asked a ghost blogger to do a post for me. I hope it is less stressful than mine.

image from intranet.tdmu.edu.te.ua

“One thought I think every person eventually thinks is, “Holy shit, I’m going to die!” Sorry, I just turned thirty yesterday, so my mortality is on my mind.
Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title


Stress comes to each of us every day and in many forms, sometimes we hardly know it is present and at others it is right “in your face”. Here is a story of the humorous as well as the possibly tragic possibilities which surround stress in our lives. It is also how not to prepare for a stress test.


The Scene is Set

Our story begins with an unfortunate and traumatic divorce which has left one party severely depressed and struggling to cope. As part of an ongoing counseling program, suggested during the separation, he attended stress management sessions on a fortnightly basis. Most of these sessions were fairly mundane, focusing on bringing his stress under control, offering a variety of brochures and lectures, however, one turned out to be very interesting. We’ll call him Joe.

This particular session, the counselor brought out a galvanometer muscle tester, to perform a stress test.  This little gadget clips onto any particular muscle, one small clip at either end of the selected muscle, in this case the forearm was chosen. The testing process. After the clips are attached and the subjects arm is at rest, the counselor would turn the control knob slowly from 1 to a maximum of 10. As soon as the machine begins to emit a steady click, click, click,a needle on a meter would indicate the stress the person is under whilst at rest. After this the subject would then be asked to clench their fist and when the muscle is tensed the machine would register the increase in frequency of the clicks by the needle rising.  This would indicate the stress load on the person tested.The higher the number reached indicates the higher the stress the subject is under at that time.  As luck would  have it, it was a fortuitous day for this test to be scheduled.

The first volunteer held out his hand and had the clips attached. On setting 4 of a possible 10, the machine made a slow buzzing noise until he clenched his fist and the buzzing increased a little, as did the needle.  The counselor asked the subject what he did  for a living to which he responded that he had a very highly stressed job. He was on the complaints counter at the Shire Council and the only people he saw were always angry at him.

Enter Joe.  The clips were attached to his arm. At setting 7 the machine began clicking. On clenching his fist the little machine began to scream and the needle on the dial went off the scale.


“That’s funny,” she said. “Let me check.” A strange look passed across her face and she began to start the test again.

She attached the clips and turned the knob.  At setting 7 the clicks started.

“Clench your fist” she said.

The little machine screamed in protest!  The needle went off the dial.

“Must be something wrong,” she said.  Let me check that,  Relax.”

The noise instantly stopped, just a click, click, click.  She looked at him, confused.

“Let’s try that again.  Clench your fist?”

Instantly the machine screamed again and the needle went off the dial!

“Tell me what you do for a living,” she said.  “You have a very interesting stress test.”

“Let me tell you about this morning,” he said.  “I have a farm and an earth-moving business, and today I was cleaning bush for an electricity company to put power lines through.  We had a tree with a branch that had to be lopped, 5 metres up. .  It was a huge branch, about 10 metres long and almost a metre through it.  The only way we could see to reach it to cut it down was with me in the bucket of the bulldozer loader with a chainsaw.

David, my assistant, maneuvered the machine into place, I climbed into the bucket with the chainsaw and he raised the bucket to 5 metres, level with the branch.  I put a cut under the branch, half way through, and then started to cut down from the top so the branch would fall clear away from me.  I cut deep down into the branch, but it wouldn’t fall!   Perplexed, I asked Davis to reposition the bulldozer so I could reach it better, and started again, a little more cutting underneath, then down from the top again.  The chainsaw was screaming as I pushed down on it but the branch just hung there!  I looked at David, he shook his head and I kept pushing and cutting.  Suddenly, the branch vanished!  It dropped without warning, no sagging, creaking, it just fell, leaving me pushing down hard on a screaming chainsaw into thin air!

I swayed and grabbed for the side of the bucket with one hand, holding the chainsaw away from me with the other, at the end of my outstretched arm.  The branch had fallen and was bouncing on the ground, finally rolling against the front of the bulldozer.  We looked at each other and I think David saw the shock on my face.  I could see it in his.

Stress level: extreme. It’s like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.”
Fiona Wood, Six Impossible Things

He backed the machine away and lowered the bucket.  I stepped out and put the chainsaw down.  I looked at my watch.

“Somewhere to go?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “I have to go to a stress management session at the hospital, they are doing stress testing today.  Wonder how I’ll go!”

images from sunshinecoastmidwifery.com.au

Stress is good for you …. in moderation. That and an Angel sitting on your shoulder. “The Wisdom of Joe”.

Normal blogging to resume shortly…. perhaps tomorrow.

Ciao, Susan

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image from ofwordsandwings.com

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”   Rudyard Kipling

A short while ago I wrote a series of blogs about Voice Dialogue, by Hal and Sidra Stone.  They talk mainly about different sub personalities and how they can interact within ourselves and with others given the right circumstances. In a memorable film called “The three Faces of Eve“, the film showed how certain ways of talking could bring out this persons differing personalities.  It made me consider the power words have in our lives and what can be triggered by the way they are used.

Everyone likes compliments, encouragement and appreciation for their efforts. It gives you a buzz and even if the task has been difficult you feel it was worthwhile. You are willing to overlook ill feelings which may have come up because of pressure to get the job done, or having to work late. Even harsh words said are often forgiven in the haze of good will that the praise has created. In Voice Dialogue terms, we moved from Angry/Resentful worker to Happy/Fulfilled employee. The “boss” has moved from the Tyrant to the Good Guy.

How has this happened? It has all been accomplished by how the words which were spoken were said, their tone and how they were received. You see, even the most innocent of words if received incorrectly can engender feelings of hurt and resentment.

“You KNOW I don’t want those papers there, put them OVER HERE!  Such a simple sentence can be heard in many ways. If heard as a criticism the worker will be upset and possibly angry. If heard as a stressed response from their boss they may feel sympathy for them. If the Harried worker was feeling tired, worrying about home, they may not have seen the Stressed boss. They may not know the pressure being applied to them to get the job finished.

Misunderstandings occur every day, mostly with those we interact with often, with family and those we care about. These are the times when words can wound and create fear, loathing and hate.  Others can, of course, bring feelings of love, warmth, healing and adoration.

Words are a miracle in and of themselves. They are only letters strung together and have been given meanings by others. As we are taught to use them they are given emotions to attach to them. Depending on our experiences they can be good or bad.

image from http://www.dw.de

As my children were growing up there was a new technique encouraged for parents, called the “Speaker Listener Technique”.  Each time the “speaker” said something the “listener” had to repeat it back using their own words. That is, not repeating what had been said but what had been understood. It was effective, but it slowed communication down dreadfully.

We each have our own method of communicating with others, with the world at large and it will not appeal to everyone. Yet this simple statement is a description of a battleground of sorts.

There are people who manage to speak in carefully controlled tones at all times, seemingly never getting upset or annoyed over anything. They often dislike hearing anyone raise their voice. The almost polar opposite is the person who, if agitated by events, will raise their voice, perhaps even resort to a curse or two if they are really upset. It is a stress relief mechanism. It may not be appreciated by everyone but it may be the way they have found to release that build up of emotional pressure. However, if the calmly spoken person really takes offense at the loud tone, it can have ramifications.

Who is right and who is wrong? Is there a right or wrong or is it simply the way people have learned to communicate?  If the person who, under pressure resorts to loud words is told that it affects the calmly spoken person will they feel constrained to change? Will it alter their real nature by having to submerge their pressure relief system? Will they feel lessened by the other person because of the criticism?

image from litreactor.com

There are  hundreds, if not thousands of variants in between these two communication styles. Hundreds if not thousands of sub personalities pulling the strings to bring these interactions about.  When we lash out in anger or hurt we always have to face the consequences. If we are willing to do that we can overcome the fallout from it. It is only when we cannot pursue a resolution that the ‘injury’ festers and becomes something more.

I firmly believe that we, and only we give words power, to either hurt or heal. Our current world is conducted at breakneck speed, often with little time to consider all possibilities of a statement. Everyone needs to accept that word usage has changed our language and misunderstandings happen – frequently.

I know of one person who spent several decades afraid to speak their own mind, to show their emotions in word or deed and when they were finally free of the constraining force, found there was an explosion of stress released. Sometimes the force of the communication came at the wrong time and was misinterpreted. This person then began to retreat back inside their shell for fear of being judged harshly. They were afraid they would be deemed ‘unworthy’ or less in some way. Their hurt or anger is now turned inwards which is unhealthy and unhelpful for that person.

We must all look at how we communicate, how our words are intended and received and if they are received in a way unintended then it is our responsibility to correct it – sooner rather than later. We must all shoulder the responsibility to teach by example that words are powerful and expression is allowed – yet we must also ask ourselves if we are being judgmental because of our beliefs and our criticism unwarranted. Sub personalities or simple communication styles. We all need to learn more. Perhaps if we learn to communicate in a better way, words will not be weapons wounding at times.

Learning is a lifetime occupation. We can only do that by communicating with others.

“There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you’re lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.”
Philip K. Dick, VALIS

May all our words be great ones, and all our intentions be from the heart.

Blessings,   Susan

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