Stay on Course When Stress Strikes

When we are dealing with sizable change in either our work or personal life, there are typically many stressors along the way. In today’s uncertain economic climate, changes at work can be especially tough to deal with. Maintaining your momentum and sticking to the stress-reduction plan, you have probably developed, can sometimes be a real challenge.  Keep reading to find out how you can work with your own personal coach to develop a personalized stress-management plan, at no cost to you. 

Persistence Pays Off.  Behavioral scientists remind us that whenever we try something new, attempt to change direction, or invite new experiences into our lives, we usually have to contend with barriers along the way. When the going gets tough, and it gets really stressful, persistence can pay off. Listed below are some strategies that might make your plan more successful. Each has been studied by mental health experts and found to be helpful in keeping a stress-management plan on track.

  • Continuously review your stress management plan. This helps keep your goals in mind and reminds you of your commitment to actively control your stress. Continuously review and renew your positive reasons for action. Decisions to change don't always come easily. You may feel discouraged when your mood or energy is low. Discuss with someone the pros and cons of what you are doing. This can help you focus less on the difficulties and more on the short and long-term benefits of your plan.

  • Understand "behavioral inertia." People tend to keep on doing things the way they always have. Like overcoming physical inertia, you may need a push to get started. Some people like to start slowly and build momentum. Some prefer a vigorous and focused start that carries them a long way quickly. Whatever your style, the important thing is to stay with your plan.
  • Keep a written record of steps you've taken. Behavioral research has shown that those who keep a log are more successful with a behavioral-change program. Writing gives you something to refer back to and is a concrete reminder of what worked and what didn't. Tailor it to your style but write it down, in a file on your computer, a notation in your journal, or a simple check on a calendar marking the days you kept to your plan.

  • Get support for your program. Rarely is a major project completed without a team of players--some on the field, some cheering from the sidelines. Let people know what you're doing. Find a buddy to check in with. Talk to a trained counselor for specific help and direction. Find a group that has a similar agenda. Behavioral research consistently shows that social support for change is one of the most powerful factors in making it happen.

  • Be reasonable. Be patient. Don't let an "all or nothing" attitude get in your way. If you miss a certain goal or deadline, don't increase your anxiety with self-critical thoughts. Stay positive and pick up where you left off.

Develop a Personalized Stress-Management Plan or Get Support
The HealthQuest program offers two excellent tools that can help you either develop a personalized stress-management plan or get support – all at no cost to you!  To access either service, call confidentially, 24/7, at 1-888-275-1205. To work with a stress management coach through telephonic sessions, select option 4. To make an appointment for face-to-face counseling through the Employee Assistance Program, select option 7.