RVL meets reality – Mindfulness, Crisis prevention and tossing away old baggage Part 3.

Stress Tolerance, Balance and Acceptance
Written and Presented by
Tim

DISCLAIMER – PLEASE READ

Ladies and gentlemen, readers, I write this as a presentation to make suggestions for people who need to get a little self-wellness into their sphere. I need to make it absolutely clear that I am NOT a medical professional, I am NOT a Psychiatric professional or a Crisis Counselor.

I AM a survivor and this material is material I have found that works for me. Doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you but then again, it just might.

The information I contain in here is NOT something I just made up on the spur of the moment, it is carefully sourced from relevant and reliable sources, HOWEVER, it is NOT meant, nor intended, to replace or discount proper care and attention from qualified medical/psychological/psychiatric professionals. If you are in trouble PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY, DON”T WAIT. Contact your nearest Crisis Line, Doctor or Healthcare Centre. DON’T TRY AND GO IT ALONE…

That being said, I offer the following for your consideration.

Img source: healthmeup.com

Img source: healthmeup.com

Good morning,
Every day, when I get up, before I approach what needs to be done through the day, before I begin working on some task or tasks and especially when I sit down to the computer and sign in to any of my OVC accounts, I compose myself. I practice mindfulness and I employ a meditative and relaxing practice that puts my mind in the here and now. I use the time to achieve an inner equilibrium and to foster a balance between my needs and expectations and the realities that I will encounter throughout the day. I learned this over a period of several years in the late eighties to early nineties and I reinforced, in a formal learning setting, late in 2014.

It is something which, to my mind, is such an integral part of myself that I can call upon it, pretty much in any situation, to take the stress out of a situation and be able to deal with it calmly, deliberately and in a timely manner. It is not magick, it is not sleight-of-hand and it is NOT delusion, it is ACCEPTANCE.

Stress tolerance and management…

There’s an old saying about stress, “Stress is the physiological and psychological reaction that occurs when a person is prevented from strangling the life out of someone who desperately deserves it…!

Cute huh? Unfortunately that’s only one type of stress and the solution is neither practical nor legal, so how do we cope with stress? What can we do to lessen its impact and, just as importantly, its longer term cumulative effects?

As you read through this part of the presentation you will recognize certain principles in play that were covered in Part 1 and 2 of the document. That’s because it all ties together, true, at this time you have two parts of the equation, this will connect with the first two and then, in part4 – the last part – we will look at how the whole comes together. As I have mentioned before, this is only a brief presentation based on work and methods that are employed in rehabilitation and outpatient programs right here in the United States today.

Img. source: www.boundless.com

Img. source: www.boundless.com

What is stress?
Stress is the way that we respond to changes in our lives. It is the way our bodies react physically, emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally.”

Change can be both positive and negative that cause stress and even imagined changes can cause stress. It is true, and accepted, that we need some stressors in our lives to keep us stimulated and motivated.

The other thing that we need to be aware of is that stress, and reactions to it, are highly individualized. No two people will experience, nor react to, the same stressor in the same way.

Chronic Stress
Our body’s hormonal system is important to help us cope with the demands of stress on a daily basis, at a low level. If the stress hormones are repeatedly triggered, and are intense, then disease will occur. YES – negative stress effects are recognized as a disease.

Below are a list of symptoms that we are adversely suffering from stress:

Physical: Tension, fatigue, insomnia, muscular aches, digestive upsets, radical appetite changes, headaches and general restlessness.

Mental (cognitive): Forgetfulness, low productivity, confusion, impaired concentration, lethargy, negativity, “busy” mind that is not able to be controlled and calmed.
Emotional: Anxiety, mood swings, irritability, depression, resentment, anger, impatience, worry, feeling of being “pressured” even when you are not being pressured.
Social: Unreasonable outbursts, decreased sex drive, lack of intimacy and withdrawal into isolation, intolerance, feelings of loneliness, avoidance of social events/ situations, increases in alcohol, tobacco or recreational drug use.
Spiritual: Apathy, loss of direction, feeling “empty”, losing sight of goals, being unforgiving and losing one’s sense of purpose.

The S.T.O.P. System
One of the quickest ways of tackling individual stress situations as they arise is known as The S.T.O.P. System.

S: stop
Tell yourself, out loud if necessary, Stop..! Relax, I can handle my anger/stress.

T: think
Tell yourself, don’t take it personally, don’t jump to conclusions and don’t make mountains from molehills.
O: others
Try to understand the other point/s of view and respect the rights of others while putting your point of view across.
P: pick
The alternatives for expressing your anger/irritation in an acceptable manner. Examine the pros and cons of expressing your anger. Make your “expressing” appropriate to the circumstances and then, after the fact, analyse how well you handled the situation and your anger.

Img. source: forwallpaper.com

Img. source: forwallpaper.com

What happens if stress reaches crisis point?

The worst effects (symptoms) from our list above will kick in and you may well find yourself lost in a dark, deep place with no idea of how to get out. IT IS TEMPORARY and the first thing to remember is DON’T PANIC.

Draw back from the crisis, unless it is a matter of imminent injury or death – that’s when adrenaline kicks in.

From a cognitive point of view there are several methods you can employ to lessen and manage the “crisis”.

The primary method is to DISTRACT yourself with other activities. This could be as simple as taking ten minutes to go outside, go for a short walk etc. This is a good example of the “walk away” theory. Distraction, in its simplest terms, means to reduce contact with the emotional stimuli that are causing the stress.

A: You can distract yourself with activities, for example physical activity helps you to feel better because when you engage in physical activity your body releases endorphins.

C: You can distract yourself by contributing, either to someone, some organization or some other form of active contribution to somebody other than you.

C: You can distract, believe it or not, with comparisons. Watch a disaster movie, visit an E.R. Waiting room, and compare yourself to people who are suffering greater stresses tan yourself.

E: You can distract by employing “opposing emotions”, for example, if you are sad watch a movie that makes you laugh. If you are tense listen to music that makes you relax.

P: Push away; that is to say, separate yourself from the stressors. Walk away for a while, find something else to do, meditate, clear your head and thoughts and just ignore the situation for a short while Take a ‘ME’ time-out.
T: Thoughts can also help you distract, turn your mind away from the stressful thinking patterns, imagine a serene place you would like to visit; remember times and places where you were happy and had fun. Look out the window at a tree or some other object, study it, think about it, and focus on it. By doing these things you can distract yourself quite easily from negative thought patterns, even if only for a little while to give your body time to regroup.
S: Sensations can be used, to various intensities, to distract the cognition. For example, hold ice cubes, squeeze a rubber ball hard and repetitively, take a shower, listen to loud music, have sex, snap a rubber band on the back of your hand. Intense sensations over power the cognitive thinking because they are linked to several of the primary functions of the body – protection, pleasure, survival etc.

A-C-C-E-P-T-S

The wise mind Accepts” ~ a handy little phrase to remember these steps.

'No stress' by Camille Besneville on deviantart.com

‘No stress’ by Camille Besneville on deviantart.com

Accepting reality
Stress, and its symptoms, are caused by circumstances. You don’t have to like the circumstances but a key factor in fighting the stress that is within you is accepting the situation at face value, accepting it for what it is in the here and now.

We each need to cultivate several things in respect of this;
We need to cultivate ‘Willingness’. A willingness to do the right thing in the situation, a willingness to be proactive in changing the situation and reducing, or removing, the stressors.
We need to cultivate a healthy opposition to ‘Willfulness’. Willfulness is defined as doing the opposite of what works, resisting changes and refusing opportunities to make the changes that will positively impact the situation.

We need to ‘Turn the Mind’, by an act of choice we need to make the commitment, to ourselves, to follow the right path and commit to accepting the reality of situations in a calm, balanced and deliberate manner.

Radical acceptance comes from within and when the inner person is free from fighting against the reality of a situation then the mind is free to accommodate solutions. By stopping yourself from fighting the anger, the rage and the stress will dissipate and leave you in a position to accept, accommodate and change in a positive and beneficial manner. When you ACCEPT you will FEEL better.

Copyright RVL & TB 2015

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion
http://www.intropsych.com/ – Dr. Dewey
S. T. Charles, J. R. Piazza, J. Mogle, M. J. Sliwinski, D. M. Almeida. The Wear and Tear of Daily Stressors on Mental Health. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612462222
www.getselfhelp.co.uk Vivyan, Carol 2009
Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. Linehan, Marsha. 1993, The Guilford Press.

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