Stress seems to come with the territory of having a job and a family. However, we all know that stress management must occur for our success. Stresses include change in responsibilities, having children, divorce, death in the family, or a vacation.
A 4-H agent’s list of stresses might look like this; camp, 4-H University, club meetings, record books, volunteers, and lack of sleep.
Positive and negative stresses touch all of us at different times and as Extension agents we need to find tools to help us cope so that we can continue to do our jobs and reach our clientele. Since we are “on-call” almost all of the time we can’t seem to escape our clients at the grocery or at church.
I’ve done a lot of reading over the past few years on dealing and coping with stress. Looking for answers for dealing with migraines and high blood pressure. We are all unique and different, however, but I would like to share my top three strategies to deal with stress.
Nutrition-Not a surprise that nutrition is in the stop three and actually my #1 strategy. Too much sugar and salt just create more problems. How many teacher’s lounges and school cafeterias have well intentioned gifts of brownies, chips, and cookies? Not eating often enough is also a problem. Most of us have club meetings during the school day right at noon. This makes lunch tough to consume. But it’s important because without our nutrition we won’t think or perform as well. To be on top of our game eating at regular intervals is critical. Be prepared and bring a snack with you or leave seeds/nuts in your vehicle to make it through the day without deprivation.
Exercise-I won’t preach, I promise! But, exercise can relieve sooooooo much stress in our bodies that it’s well worth the effort and time. I’ve visited with many people who are walking around with knots in their necks from carrying around tension. Find something you like and stick with it. Lately I’ve been swapping between yoga and gardening. My garden is rewarding because of the great produce to eat and share. But yoga gives me a fun group of folks who also want to be healthy. Most of our communities have walking tracks and bike lanes that are easy to use. We can all find reasons not to exercise, however, the years are slipping by and how long will it take for stress to manifest itself as disease in our life. Take care of your body before that happens.
Positive People-Look and listen for the positives. There are so many good experiences and opportunities around that this may seem a little obvious. Working with the public means we have a variety of issues to manage that we cannot control. We cannot control who wins or loses, how children behave, what the weather will be like at camp, or what parent’s post of their social media pages. But we can see happy youth, children thriving, and appreciative parents who volunteer. Let these good experiences outweigh the negative ones. I love this old Indian proverb about how to manage the positive vs. negative in our life.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Try this…..TEST YOUR COPING SKILLS activity to see how you can improve with stress in your life.