Life Balance and Stress Reduction Solutions

Summary by Kristi Kaiser – July 20, 2001

The following information is based a seminar presented by Rockhurst University/National Seminars Group.  The instructor was Peggy Dolittle.


                        What is stress?

Stress is the imbalance in the level of demand placed on you and your capacity to meet that demand.


Types of stress

Time stress

  • Meeting a deadline.
  • Time is running out and something terrible will happen as a result.

Anticipatory stress

  • General worries (80% of what we worry      about never happens;  the “what ifs”      in life.)
  • Undefined fears
  • Feeling of dread

Situational stress

  • Threatening      situations
  • Possibility of      physical harm or loss of status

Loss of status is self-induced stress i.e. if get fired; divorced; never marry; if don’t make as much money.

Encounter stress

  • Unpleasant relationships
  • Conflict encounters


Situational and Encounter stress are the major stressors for most people.


Learning to relieve stress is about three things:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-esteem
  3. Self-control



People who deal well with stress share these characteristics:

    • Take responsibility       for dealing with problems.
    • Are confident in       their problem-solving abilities.
    • Can objectively view situations, consider solutions, ask for help when needed and develop a plan.
    • Carry out a plan       with a view that problems are obstacles to overcome.

People tend to handle (or not handle) stress in three ways:

  1. Resist (resist changing to handle      stress)
  2. Avoid    (in denial that they are stressed)
  3. Confront and adapt!

Negative emotions/behaviors/events that can result in more stress

1.  Regret–for what you did not do—

How different people handle them

    1. Accept that you did not do them
    2. Get a burst of energy – ie midlife       crisis
    3. Shut down  (stay stuck in regret) This is the most       stressful.  Men who stay stuck die       12 years sooner.  Women who stay       stuck die 4 years sooner.

2.  The inability to let go

Is related to self-esteem

People need to get rid of their emotional “junk” because it drags down life.

i.e. Monk story.

“Those who anger us control us”

3.  Blame and Justify

Instead of accepting responsibility, we blame someone else or something else and then justify our actions or behavior.

The 4 Emotional Cancers result from people not taking responsibility and causes free-floating anxiety.





4.  Change is a stressor.   There are five steps that people take when adjusting to change:

  1. Resistance
  1. Uncertainty
  2. Assimilation
  3. Transference
  4. Integration

5.  Expectations

  1. Of ourselves
  2. Of others
  3. That others have of us

6.  Self pity

Any area of our life where we feel sorry for ourselves, we have created a pocket of stress for ourselves.

Coping with and reducing stress

Your thoughts +Your feelings= your Actions—>

I think

I then feel

I behave based on what I think and feel.

Whatever you believe with confidence becomes reality to you.


A    ->               B                      ->                      C

Event                Belief                                       Consequence or outcome


You can’t always control what you get so you must control how you deal with it.  Examples of Lifegifts—things you get with no control over.  If your expectations are out of line with reality, you will need to reframe.  Reframing allows you to look at something negative and make it better.


“The acceptance of total responsibility for our lives is the chief hallmark of mature human beings.”


5 Ways to combat job stress

  1. Act- don’t react.  Think about “what can I do?”
  2. Take control….Let go!
  3. Learn 3 Communication Skills
    1. Listen
    2. Assertive
    3. Dignity
  4. Value yourself
  5. Know what you like about your job.

Too much to do?  Getting rid of non-essentials

  1. Recognize that some things don’t need      to be done.
  2. Identify quality versus quantity.
  3. Eliminate self-limiting beliefs.
  4. Know what you can control.
  5. Have support.
  6. Practice your skills.  (i.e. list to tapes;read)
  7. Have limits.  (Identify where you don’t have limits      and create them.)
  8. Have goals and follow through.
Stress Strategies
  1. U laugh.  If you laugh 100 times a day it provides      the same cardiovascular workout as 10 minutes on a rowing machine.
  2. Touch.       18-20 times a day.  A massage      has powerful benefits.
  3. Praise.  Praise yourself and others.  Keep an “I’m proud of me” file where you      keep positive messages, thank you notes etc that you can quickly glance      through when you need a lift.
  4. Relax.       Use the “relaxation response”
    1. Quiet
    2. Comfort
    3. Positive attitude
    4. Focus
  5. Exercise.  Studies have shown that 5 pm is a good      time of day to exercise for maximum benefit.


Other ideas

  • Decide on a theme      song that no matter when you hear it, it brings you up to a positive      mood.  When you start to slide into      any of the above behaviors play your theme song in your mind/anchor      yourself to the positive feelings.
  • Move to your dominant      thought and attract to yourself what you believe in.
  • Ideas for people with      families:  Have a place to dump your      negative junk before you go home.
  • When you have lost your “bounce”, it      is a sign that your creative needs are not being filled.
  • Write down 5 things that you enjoy doing but perhaps have not taken time to do.
    • How       do you feel when you do them?
    • Are       there any of these activities that you could even do for 5 minutes when       you are stressed?


Positive Self-Talk Messages that help maintain perspective:

  1. First things first
  2. Easy does it
  3. One day (step) at a time
  4. Let it go
  5. This about someone else—it has nothing      to do with me.  (4 agreements to      make with yourself.)
  6. This is a non-issue.  I can deal with this.  (Am I going to care about this tomorrow,      or in a month or in a year?)
  7. Is it worth dying for?
  8. Go for it!
  9. Plan B
  10. Go with the flow
  11. What’s the worst that can happen


Mental Flexibility – moving outside of the comfort zone
  1. Learn
  2. Be Assertive
  3. Take risks
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Set goals
  6. Be mentally flexible

Action Item:

Write down the days of the week and put 2-3 of these items on each of these days.  Challenge yourself to implement changes to help reduce your stress. Studies show that if you implement new learning within 24 hours you have a much better retention of the information and ideas.  Waiting a longer time to implement learning decreases retention by as much as 70%.


  1. Be Assertive.
  2. Set goals.
  3. Take action on my dream.
  4. Find a dumping ground.
  5. Identify an issue to let go of.
  6. Examine expectations.
  7. Do something nice for myself.
  8. Have a great attitude day.
  9. Ask for what I want.
  10. Manage the moment.
  11. Develop 20 ideas.
  12. Determine my priorities.
  13. Make three small changes this week.
  14. Identify and reframe negative thinking.
  15. Pick a theme song.


 Additional Resources

Books/Tapes that Peggy Doolittle recommended

  • Organize your office      – Eisenberg
  • How to DeJunk Your      Life – National Seminars book
  • The Assertive      Advantage –book or audio tape- Sharon Bally
  • 7 Habits of Highly      Effective People – Stephen Covey
  • Psychology of      Achievement – audio tapes – Brian Tracy       (We have in the library.)
  • When bad things      happen to good people – Harold S. Kushmer
  • Prioritize, Organize      – Peg Pickering


Some Internet Resources I have found: (This site is focused on a more balanced life and highlights some good articles.  They offer presentations/speakers etc.)

Simpler Living for women who want to simplify and balance their lives. Includes articles on health, nutrition, fitness, education, and relationships.

An interactive site that promotes goal setting and achievement in work, career, and life balance. Includes coaching, articles, and discussion.*   Stress Management and Emotional Wellness Links

Books in the Microsoft Great Plains Library

The Stress of Organizational Change- Price Pritchett & Ron Pound

Calm Down – How to Manage Stress at Work – Barbara J. Braham


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