NAPW Women Manage Stress for Success

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NAPW Local Chapters are communities that build strong relationships, allow us to decompress after a long day, and inspire us for the new day ahead. Stress Awareness on the NAPW Foundation calendar makes us stop and take a moment to think about the stress in our lives, share how we deal with it and learn from each other, so we can live a healthier more productive life.

Q: How Did Stress Become Such A Buzzword?

A: The term “stress” was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Selye had noted in numerous experiments that laboratory animals subjected to acute but different noxious physical and emotional stimuli (blaring light, deafening noise, extremes of heat or cold, perpetual frustration) all exhibited the same pathologic changes of stomach ulcerations, shrinkage of lymphoid tissue and enlargement of the adrenals. He later demonstrated that persistent stress could cause these animals to develop various diseases similar to those seen in humans, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Many scientists debated about the theories that were being published. One physician concluded in a 1951 issue of the British Medical Journal that, “stress in addition to being itself was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.”

Q: How Does Managing Stress Lead To Success?

A: Entrepreneur magazine reports that 90% of top performers know how to manage their emotions in times of stress, which allows them to remain cool, calm and focused on what needs to be done.

According to numerous surveys and other research, successful use similar strategies when it comes to managing stress.

They practice gratitude for what they have.
Developing a gratitude practice is a psychologically proven way to reduce stress and maintain a more positive outlook on life. When you have a more positive outlook (and less of the stress hormone cortisol), you are happier and more productive.

They practice self-care.
Successful people often have the presence of mind to realize that they must care for their most important asset—themselves—in order to continue to be successful. They prioritize healthy habits like getting enough sleep, limiting caffeine and alcohol, getting proper exercise and unplugging from technology periodically. Being overly tired, hopped up on chemicals (like caffeine and alcohol) and constantly monitoring our digital lives puts our adrenal glands into overdrive, and sends our stress levels through the roof. A truly successful person will strive to find balance to help moderate stress.

They rely on routines.
One major cause of stress is the number of decisions we have to make in a day. Every decision, from choosing the sandwich or the salad all the way up to who to hire or fire, weighs on us and causes us stress. Relying on simple routines like having the same lunch every day, answering emails at the same time, or even simplifying your wardrobe can help save your stress and sanity for the bigger decisions that really matter.

They keep the big picture in view.
Finally, successful people are able to keep the bigger picture in view, rather than focusing on minutiae. This is about focusing more on the “why” behind what you do than the “how.” For example, you might feel yourself getting stressed out about the fact that you have to work out every day for an hour (the how), but if you focus on the reason (the why) you want to work out—to be healthy and live longer—you may find the actual task less stressful.

Q: How Does Involvement With A Specialist Group Alleviate Stress?

A:  The Mayo Clinic reports that a strong social support network can be critical to help you through the stress of tough times, whether you’ve had a bad day at work or a year filled with loss or chronic illness.

What is a social support network?
A social support network is comprised of friends, family and peers. It is different from a support group. Although both can play an important role in times of stress, a social support network is something you can develop when you’re not under stress. It provides the comfort of knowing that your friends are there for you if you need them.

Organizations like NAPW foster relationships with the face-to-face connection available through our Local Chapters. Although these connection events often take place in a professional setting, for many women, they offer a relaxing environment for building lasting relationships with like-minded women.

Benefits of a social support network
Numerous studies have demonstrated that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being. When you have a social support network, you benefit in the following ways:

  • Sense of belonging. Spending time with people helps ward off loneliness. Whether it’s other new parents, dog lovers, fishing buddies or siblings, just knowing you’re not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.
  • Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you’re a good person to be around.
  • Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need them. It’s comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need.

Make sure to read this month’s Message from Louise that offers stress-free tips for the professional woman.