Living@Guelph - Choose Your Own Adventure Living
Run Down by Hassles or Re-Energizing?
By Kathy Somers, Stress Management Clinic

The daily hassles of our life tend to be more stressful than less frequent "stressful" events. How many hassles have you experienced today?

_____ was concerned over personal appearance
_____ was unorganized
_____ was embarrassed
_____ did something I did not want to do
_____ saw an upsetting movie, TV show, book
_____ was criticized
_____ performed poorly
_____ broke something
_____ was misunderstood
_____ had a confrontation
_____ was crowded / pushed
_____ ran out of food / personal item
_____ money problems / unexpected expenses
_____ hurried to meet a deadline
_____ unable to complete a task
_____ was interrupted while talking
_____ argued
_____ grumpy room mate / friend
_____ bad weather
_____ misplaced something
_____ was put on hold
_____ waited longer than I wanted
_____ late for class or an appointment
_____ heard some bad news
_____ had computer glitches
_____ worried about someone else's problems
_____ "pet peeve" was violated (borrowing without asking, etc)
_____ worried about unfinished work
_____ others?? ___________________________

It is important to counter the effect of these hassles. By the end of the day they could have accumulated into a "mountain" of stress-induced 'dysregulations' (ie. mental, emotional, and/or physiological systems are pushed out of balance).

Slowed Down by Hassles and Stress?
Our body and mind work and respond to daily demands and at night unloads the dysregulations incurred from these efforts. However some mornings you may not be refreshed and rejuvenated. Sleep was not enough to unload the "mountain" of stress. Researchers suggest that in this day and age, with increased time pressures and higher frequencies of stressful daily demands, it is more important than ever for people to learn ways to unload stress mountain during the day (sleep is often not enough). This seems to be especially true for athletes and performers.

Choose Re-Energizing.....
Things like yoga, T'ai Chi, meditation, muscle relaxation techniques, etc provide a break from building a mountain of stress responses.

Brief techniques include such things as taking 3 deep breaths, reminding yourself to stay calm, thought stopping, Quieting Response, etc. One brief technique recommended to "balance" the hassles is to generate a daily gratitude list. This involves recording mentally or in a journal all of the uplifting, pleasurable moments of the day, however fleeting, such as:

  • watching a beautiful sunset
  • receiving a compliment
  • smelling the lilacs
  • laughing at a funny joke
  • tasting a juicy orange
  • seeing a friend's smile
  • hearing a moving piece of music
  • witnessing a random act of kindness
  • looking at your favourite picture
  • taking a good stretch
  • calling someone special

    Take a moment right now to gain more balance on today's stress mountain by listing at least 10 things from the last 24 hours for which you are grateful or have enjoyed.

    Don't let the hassles prevent you from recognizing the quality moments of your day. Keep a gratitude journal everyday to begin gaining more balance in your perspective and in your ups and downs on Stress Mountain!

    Long techniques take 15 - 20 minutes to deeply relax the body and mind, to recuperate and regenerate from dysregulations, ie. recharging our batteries. Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Autogenic Training and other deep relaxation strategies are excellent approaches.

    To access on-campus training in well- researched brief and long relaxation strategies..... Effective brief and long techniques can be learned through practice, and every semester the Stress Management Clinic provides instruction in techniques such as muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, Autogenic Training, Quieting Response, Alphagenic Relaxation, Open Focus, and worry control. For further information pick up a Stress Management Clinic pamphlet at the Wellness Centre or the Connection Desk, visit the web site or call the Clinic at ext. 52662.

    "I did not panic or become upset in the lab when nothing was coming out right. I have more patience with my four year old. These are big changes for me."

    "I don't sweat the small stuff anymore, and I feel 100% better physically and mentally. The best part of the program was walking out of the door after an hour and feeling like a new person."