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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Stress Management


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Enjoy A Free College Stress Management Webinar

Thursday April 17, 2014
The college experience can represent one of the most exciting stages in a person's life--new goals, perspectives, friends, and freedoms can be exciting, and can change the direction of your life! But college brings a significant amount of stress as well, and if you don't know how to manage that stress, it can become overwhelming. According to a 2009 report from the American Psychological Association, , roughly 50% of college students are at some point so depressed that they have difficulty functioning, while 15% actually meet the criteria for clinical depression. Another 2011 study showed that college students are rating themselves as lower in emotional health, and college women are feeling overwhelmed 38% of the time. As someone who has worked in a few college counseling offices, I can attest to the fact that there are many new stressors in a university setting.

Fortunately, there are also many options for managing that stress! Today I am giving a webinar on college stress and stress management for College Week Live, an online college fair attended by thousands. (It's free to watch, and you can find it through this link.)

If you're a current college student, a high school student who's looking forward to going to college in the near future, or the parent of an incoming college student, this talk will help you to know how to prepare for college stress and learn to mange it. (If you're not an incoming college student, you'll still find nice stress management information there.) I received some great questions, many of which I couldn't answer during the webinar, so I'll be answering them in the form of articles here--stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, here are some additional resources that can help with college stress and stress relief. Use them to take charge of your college years and make them the best they can be!

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Here's Help!

Wednesday April 16, 2014
Sometimes life can feel overwhelming. Whether it's a big crisis you're facing, or a bunch of stressors that quietly grew into an cacophony that left you feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden, taking a few minutes to make the necessary adjustments can make all the difference, and leave you feeling able to take on your stressors with a fresh perspective. The following are several ways to do just that. Here goes:

Feeling Overwhelmed? Turn It Around Quickly.

Recently, I felt overwhelmed by stressors, and I forgot these simple tricks for calming down quickly. I stayed stressed. But once I remembered how to take control and bring myself some inner peace, de-stressing was much easier.
Read on to see what I should have remembered--and will, from now on.

8 Tips for Busy People

Looking for ways to relieve stress that don't take a bunch of time? These stress relief strategies work well for those who lead busy lifestyles--and #7 (learn to say no) can perhaps even help you prevent some of your busy-lifestyle stress in the first place!
Read on for the rest.

Facebook Page About Stress Management

For ongoing stress relief tips, join the Facebook group About Stress Management. You'll find updates with the latest blogs, inspirational quotes with related articles, and plenty of stress relief resources you might 'like' or want to share your two-cents about. Join us; we'd love to see you there!
Learn more strategies for combatting overwhelm.

For more tips, research, and resources on stress management, subscribe to the free weekly Stress Management Newsletter.


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Stress Relief Basics

Monday April 14, 2014
Sometimes, even if you've been working at utilizing stress management techniques for a while, it helps to get a basic overview of the basics: what stress is, where it comes from, and what works best in the way of stress management. This can be helpful for many reasons. Sometimes we get stuck with one or two techniques that we use in every situation, and we may miss out on other, more appropriate strategies. Also, there may be simple changes that can bring big results--like a shift in attitude--to learn about; it would be a shame to miss out on the simple strategies that can help the most. Also, a better understanding of stress and stress management may lead to a better understanding of how to lead a less-stressed lifestyle. (You may be surprised by what you didn't realize!)

This has been true for me. I've been studying stress and stress management since my first year in college (and unofficially since high school, or even middle school!), and have built up a nice arsenal of techniques on top of a pretty solid understanding of things like the stress response, stress-invoking cognitive distortions, and other topics that relate to stress. This has helped me relieve stress in my life for some time now. However, I'll periodically learn a new piece of information, or begin practicing a new technique, that seems to 'change everything', and deepen my understanding of stress and ability to relieve it, even further.

Here is some basic information about stress, with links to additional resources you can use to deepen your understanding and practice of stress management.

Stress Management Basics

  • What Is Stress?
    We hear the term 'stress' being thrown around so often, we may not realize that people mean different things when they're discussing stress. Just what is stress, and what do people mean by the term? Learn the basics of stress, and find a simple but effective 'game plan' you can use with virtually all the stressors you face.

  • Relaxation Tips
    Relaxation is sometimes seen as a luxury, but in fact, regular relaxation and stress management are important for physical and emotional health. Learn the main reasons for this, and find strategies that work well for you!

  • 10 Things To Know About The Effects of Stress
    What's the role of attitude on your stress levels? How much does stress affect your health? How preventable is stress? Learn the answers to these questions and more.

What about you? What are some stress relief techniques or bits of information that have really deepened your understanding or practice of stress management? Leave them in the comments, so others can benefit, too!

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5-Minute Stress Relief Strategies (And Other Things In Fives)!

Saturday April 12, 2014
Much of the damage of stress comes from chronic stress, the condition when your body's stress response is triggered so much that your body stays in a state of constant stress. (In fact, often people are in 'stress mode' and don't even know it!) This blog provides information and resources to help you calm down quickly when stressed. If you do nothing else in the way of stress management, this important first step can be one of the best for your health!

5-Minute Stress Relief Strategies
Want to ease stress quickly? Here are some ways that you can calm your body's physiology and reverse your stress response in five minutes or less, as well as a more in-depth explanation of why this is so important.

5 Ways to Calm Down Quickly
If you liked those, here are some more ways to reverse your stress response in a matter of minutes, and avoid the effects of chronic stress.

5 Ways to Simplify Life
As long as we're going with a theme of fives, here are 5 more ways to relieve stress simply and effectively!

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"Don't Believe Everything You Think!"

Saturday April 12, 2014
I was just listening to a lecture from Dr. Wayne Dyer, an inspirational writer and speaker who first caught my attention when I was in high school. He was talking about how negative thoughts and habits can hold us back by keying into the subconscious mind, where our negative habits are perpetuated virtually automatically, without us even thinking about what we're doing or questioning what we tell ourselves. Once we make up our minds about something, we operate from those assumptions and they shape our world.

And what happens when we're wrong? Stress is generally the result.

For example, when we're faced with a situation that requires a thoughtful response and tests our abilities, we can see the situation as a threat or a challenge. When we see it as a threat, we immediately feel that we're in danger of something bad happening, and the body's stress response is triggered. We then become engulfed by a cascade of physical responses that prepare us to fight or run, and can also impact our thinking, responses, and sense of wellbeing, and can sometimes lead to the negative effects of chronic stress. When we see the same situation as a challenge, we may feel inspired to rise to the occasion and handle it at our best--or we may simply handle it in an adequate manner--but we generally don't feel stressed in the same way.

The key to whether we see a situation as a threat or a challenge? Simple thought patterns--"I can't handle this!", "This shouldn't be happening!" or "Yikes, what a disaster!" can lead to fear and stress, while other thoughts like, "I can handle this!", "These things happen," and, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger!" can lead us to feelings of confidence, and enable us to handle more challenges without feeling stressed.

Whether we experience a situation as stressful, challenging, or even invigorating can depend largely on how we interpret the situation, and that can depend on our habitual thinking patterns. And being aware of our negative thinking patterns is the first step in being able to replace them with more empowering patterns of thought. That's why I love this quote from Wayne Dyer's lecture: "Don't believe everything you think!" If you can start noticing and questioning your negative thinking patterns, you can replace them with positive, empowering ones. By doing this, you can eliminate much of the stress that you're experiencing, before you even experience it!

Pessimists are shown by research to experience less happiness, fewer successes and poorer health, and tend to have very specific types of negative thinking patterns. Some common negative thinking patterns are called 'cognitive distortions', and include 'catastrophizing', 'all-or-nothing thinking', and several others. Below is more information on negative thinking patterns--learn about them and become more aware of which are a little too familiar, and you can start to weed them out of your experience!

Negative Thought Pattern Resources:

What are some of your 'favorite' negative thinking patterns? How do they affect your life? Share your experience in the 'comments' section, and please share this blog with (via the 'share' button) if you've found it to be helpful. Have a positive day!


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Celebrate National Humor Month And Relieve Stress, Too!

Tuesday April 1, 2014
April is officially National Humor Month, a month to celebrate the joy and laugher in life. Conveniently, it's also Stress Awareness Month, which makes it an ideal time to laugh away the stress in your life! Kicking things off with April Fools Day and ending with National Honesty Day, April is a fun, nurture-your-psyche month, all month long!

There are several happiness- and humor-related observances throughout the year: Hunt for Happiness Week, Laughter Is The Best Medicine Day, even an International Moment of Laughter Day (later this month!) but devoting an entire month to getting your smile back is a good idea because humor is such an important part of our lives. Laughter is considered "the best medicine" for many reasons, perhaps the most important of which being that there are many health benefits that come with laughter. Laughter itself releases healthy hormones into your body and helps you release stress and tension from your body at the same time. Also, though, laughter can help you to maintain a healthier perspective; when you can laugh in the middle of a stressful situation, you are able to reverse your fight-or-flight response and perhaps even be more focused when planning for solutions. Laughing with family and friends promotes bonding, and the resulting strong social ties build resilience to each person in the relationship. If that's not enough reason to focus on humor his month, it's just plain fun!

So see how many opportunities you can find this month to get a good laugh. (Another important thing you can do for yourself to make the most of National Humor Month is to subscribe to the About.com Stress Management Newsletter and take advantage of other ongoing resources for stress management--relaxed people tend to find the humor in stressful situations more easily.) Below are some resources to help you further along the path of celebrating humor. Please feel free to share your best tips for finding a good laugh in the comments section of this blog, or on our Facebook Page About Stress Management. Spread the joy!

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Take Advantage of Stress Awareness Month!

Tuesday April 1, 2014
April is officially Stress Awareness Month, which makes it an excellent time to really focus on becoming aware of the stress in your life, its effects on your body, and ways to minimize it. You may already be aware of some of these things, or all of them to an extent, but this is the month to delve a little deeper. And I'm here to help!

Throughout this month, I'll be covering the basics as well as more complex aspects of stress and stress management, will provide you with tools to explore your situation, and will provide you with opportunities to connect with others in order to share questions, advice and support. Yes, that's pretty much what I do year-round, but during this month in particular, I'll bring you the most important information on stress in a step-by-step way so it's simpler than ever before to get an overview of what's important, or for those who have been readers for a while, delve deeper.

This article on Celebrating Stress Awareness Month provides a nice overview on the basics of effective stress management, and gives a good overview of where we can go with the month. Another important thing you can do for yourself to make the most of Stress Awareness Month is to subscribe to the About.com Stress Management Newsletter and take advantage of other ongoing resources for stress management. This will allow you to get a steady feed of do-able strategies and useful information on stress.

In the meantime, we can focus today on the basics: what constitutes 'stress', and what brings stress. The following resources can help you to understand the basics of stress:

What stresses you? (Be one of the first to share it in the User Answers article!) And what do you hope to achieve during Stress Awareness Month? A less stressed lifestyle? A few more stress relievers in your bag of tricks? The ability to let things roll off of your back? Share it in the comments section of this blog, or on Facebook.

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Stress Awareness Month Resources

Tuesday April 1, 2014
April is Stress Awareness Month, which provides the perfect opportunity to get serious about stress management--in a low-stress way, of course. This blog brings you the tools to get started on the path to a less stressed existence. Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section, sign up for the free stress management newsletter for ongoing updates, and have a wonderful week!
  • How Is Stress Affecting You?
    Stress can impact us in many ways. This free quiz is designed to help you assess the ways stress may be impacting you physically and emotionally, and find tools to manage your stress symptoms and eliminate stress from your life.

  • What Is Stress And How Does It Impact You?
    How does stress affect the body, and what is an effective overall strategy for stress management? If you're not sure where to begin with stress management, start here!

  • How Much Do You Know About Stress And Your Health?
    You may have already learned from this site or other sources that stress can affect your health in a negative way, but do you know exactly how? This quiz is designed to test your knowledge, pique your interest, and inform you on the connection between stress and your body. Raise your stress awareness level with the help of this quiz.

  • Find Stress Relief On Facebook
    Exactly a year ago, I started the Facebook Page About Stress Management to help people conveniently gain access to stress relief resources while they're on Facebook, and share these resources with stressed friends. We've gotten some wonderfully positive feedback, many wonderful people have joined and shared their tips and stories, and have found information that's helped them. I invite you to "like" the page and find inspirational quotes, recent research, and stress relief resources of Facebook, or follow me on Twitter for the same great stuff!

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Happy “Make Up Your Own Holiday” Day! How Will You Celebrate?

Wednesday March 26, 2014
Sometimes we got caught up in the things we have to do that we forget to prioritize fun. This is natural--there are heavier immediate consequences to dropping the ball on many of our responsibilities than there are to forgetting to schedule in a little play time. Fun can usually be put off until tomorrow, while deadlines cannot be ignored.

Fun can't be put off forever, though. Working too hard with too few breaks may not get us in trouble with other people, but it does take a toll. There is a well-documented weekend effect, where people tend to feel healthier and happier on Fridays and Saturdays, and sicker and more depressed on Sunday nights and Mondays. Burnout is a very real phenomenon that can result from lack of balance. And depression rates in our country (and worldwide) are on the rise; a lack of connection and positive mood can be risk factors--risk factors that can be minimized by having some enjoyable times with friends.

We tend to have busy lives and hectic schedules, and even many of the vacation days people are freely given by their employers go unused (or not used to the fullest), so clearly it is important for people to learn to have more fun in their lives. That's why I am recommending that you observe "Make Up Your Own Holiday" Day, which is March 26th, and celebrate it in a way that can relieve the most stress for you! Here are some of my ideas for how to make the most of it:

  • Choose A These That Includes Connecting With Others
    Maintaining a supportive group of friends is one lifestyle factor that is associated with increased health, longevity, and life satisfaction, and can be a great stress reliever. Social media is a fun way to stay in touch, but game nights, lunches with friends, or even quick phone calls can help you to stay connected in a more personal way. You can relieve stress by creating a holiday that involved getting together with others.

    Another option is to create one that promotes healthy relationships. Although I am not Jewish, I have always loved the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, as it is a day of atonement, a chance to start fresh with all of your relationships. How wonderful! When coming up with your own, you may want to create a holiday around an action or thought that brings you closer to people, like the already-invented holiday, "Someday We'll Laugh About This Week."

  • Choose A Theme That Includes Creativity
    If you find yourself wanting to paint, imagine, or in other ways create, why not fashion a holiday around that? Expressing creativity can be a wonderful stress relief strategy, as it often leads to flow experiences. One of my favorite "holidays" is National Novel Writing Month for this very reason! What creative pursuit might you want to celebrate?
  • Choose A Theme That Involves A Change Of Pace
    If you just need to do something relaxing, you could create a holiday around that. ReRun- Watching Day? (Yes, there are surprising benefits to watching reruns!) "In Bed For Peace Day" was an actual March 20th observance (I believe it originated with the Beatles!), and a relaxing one at that! In what way can a relaxed pace be part of your day?
  • Choose A Theme That Involves A Little Fun
    Be playful! What do you enjoy doing anyway? What kind of things can you not get enough of? What do yo always wish you could do, but never have the chance? Incorporate that into your special holiday so that at least one day a year, you are doing what you most want to do! (I think the people who created
  • Spread The Fun!
    Share your "holiday" with others, and multiply the fun! Sign into Twitter (if you're not following me already, I'm @ElizabethScott and @About_Stress, and I generally follow back), and tweet your holiday name with the hashtag #makeupyourownholiday . I'll share the best ones in my blog, and perhaps they can become official for next year!

How can you get more fun into your life, even when not celebrating your favorite (made-up) holiday? It's simpler than you may think, if you make fun a priority. Here are some ideas:

Tips For Having Fun

Take A 'PlayCation' For Stress Relief

Related Resources

Fun Stress Relievers
How can you relieve stress by having fun? Here are some ideas to try!

Top Hobbies for Stress Relief
Certain activities are worth the time you put into them, just for the fun and stress relief you can get out of them. Here are some of my top picks for stress-relieving hobbies.

How To Maintain a Sense of Humor
Laughing at the stressors you face is one of the best ways to rob them of their difficulty. Here are some strategies for maintaining a sense of humor in life, and having more fun as you go.

Share Your Thoughts:
Do you feel that you have enough fun in your life? What do you do for fun? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Starbucks Meditation

Wednesday March 26, 2014
I think most people think of meditation as an activity to be performed alone in a quiet room, and that's a nice ideal. However, life doesn't always work out that way. Today I'm writing from Starbucks, with a drink by my side and jazz music filling the space around me.

Ironically, though, sometimes writing about stress can be stressful, especially if I have more topics to write about than time to write them, and I was just having one of those moments. Once I realized that my writing To Do list was longer than my working window, I started becoming unfocused, trying to do two things at once, and realizing that I wasn't really focusing on either. I decided I needed a time-out. Meditation provides the perfect antidote to that kind of stress.

One of the beautiful things about meditation is that, with a little practice, it can be done anywhere, anytime. I don't usually come to Starbucks to meditate, but here I was, and that's what I needed. I used the 'power' button on my laptop as a focal point, took a deep breath, and relaxed into a 5-minute meditation.

I'm writing about this because meditation is one of the most effective forms of stress management available, and it's also inexpensive (usually free!), convenient, and contains lasting benefits--regular meditation can actually help you to change your brain functioning so you're less reactive to stressors you haven't even experienced yet! But many people don't try it, or think they're 'doing it wrong' and give up, or just don't think they have the time. I wanted to inspire you to give it a try today. Here are some resources to get you started, help you find new meditation techniques to try, or get back to an abandoned meditation regimen:

Meditation Resources:

Why Meditate?
Meditation has many wonderful benefits for health and stress relief. If you haven't read about them already, learn why the goal of regular meditation is worth every minute of practice.

Meditation For Perfectionists
Meditation can be especially difficult for perfectionists, at least at first. However, perfectionists are among those who could benefit the most from meditation, and perhaps may become some of the most committed to meditation once they master the concept. If you are a perfectionist (or if you just find meditation difficult), these meditation tips for perfectionists are for you!

FAQ: What If You Can't Meditate?
Have you tried meditation, but find yourself getting MORE stressed? Here are some alternatives and techniques to try!

Meditation Techniques to Try
Here are some different techniques to try.

5-Minute Meditation
If you only have a few minutes, here's a quick way to feel less stressed.

Walking Meditation
Combine the benefits of meditation with exercise--this is also an easier-to-learn form of meditation.

Mantra Meditation
This form of meditation may feel a little strange at first, but it's simple to learn and works quite well.

Music Meditation
Music can really help relieve stress and get you into a serene place of meditation.

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