Have you ever successfully worked through a serious problem? Maybe you helped someone climb out of depression. Or, did you save the day with a huge departmental budget issue? If so, you should share the knowledge of how you made it over the hump--or helped others to do so.

Most of us desire to make a difference in this world; sharing stress management tips is one way to honor other people.

What’s interesting is that anytime you teach a coping skill, you’ll reinforce that skill in your own life. If you’re struggling with a teenager with behavioral issues, for example, you might feel extremely aggravated. So, try an old time-tested method for uncovering some answers: Sit down and pretend you’re giving someone else advice about raising a teenager. You’ll be amazed at how resourceful you are.

For instance, a friend of mine--whom I’ll refer to as Kathy--wrote down these tips for parenting a teen:

* Make sure you give your teenager lots of praise. Hunt for ideas. Brag on your daughter’s ability to take care of the family pets. Let your son know his yard mowing is taking a huge strain off you.

* Help your teen learn to set boundaries. Sit down and do some practice sessions with him or her. Pretend you’re a pushy friend asking your teen to skip school. Ask your teen to line up some good verbal responses.

Kathy made a list of 20 points that came from the back of her mind. She was harvesting ideas from what she already knew.

The point is, Kathy started using her list with her kids. Her kids told her they liked this kind of help from Kathy.

“What grew from this exercise,” says Kathy, “is that I started using the my teen tips at work. I started bragging on my employees. And, I started teaching my employees to speak up to set healthy boundaries. For example, I knew one woman--a new employee-- was getting slammed by two of my ego-maniac employees who shift all of the work they hate to her. I coached this woman to speak up and put the brakes on advantage-takers.”

Inventing good stress management skills is actually a fun process. It’s empowering to see what you can come up with.

Many years ago, I took a Dale Carnegie course. I remember that one point of advice was this: If you’re stuck for answers on a hard problem, pretend you've been hired to coach someone else through this problem. Your job is to help them chip away at the difficulty. This gives you a new perspective. You can think more objectively.

Do any of you have any tips to share on how you whittled a mountain down to size? If so, please let us know what methods you used and what you learned from the experience.

Judi Light Hopson
Co-author: Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress

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Comment by Judi Light Hopson on August 30, 2011 at 3:31pm
A free stress management module is posted on usawellnesscafe.org. No login required. No exam. Just information you can post, print and share freely. Just click on Training at the top of the page. We are providing 100% free training on stress management and relationship issues to responders and those in direct patient care. The website is under construction, but please let me know if you find this first module worth your time. Best regards!
Comment by Arron on August 13, 2011 at 5:44am
My best way to deal with it in my experience special be in Afghanistan is to talk about it with your crew/buddies and be honest with them (open) for some people it might not work but for me it make me feel a lot better and when I'm talking to them sometime i find out thing that i might be doing to make them walk on egg shells this gives me a chance to listen to them and fix what I've been doing to make them be like that so we learn and adapt and over come.
Comment by Mark Poznanski on August 8, 2011 at 5:28am
Your comments are well taken and welcomed. I agree that we shouldn't unload everything. Often, as I write in my journal or talk with a friend...I begin to 'walk through' my stress point/or concern. It's like coming out of a fog/haze..things start to have shape/things become easier to 'identify'. When I was growing up on the farm, my father always stated that animals understand. All I can say is that many 'barnyard bovines' were indeed good listeners. We need to understand that we are still human...and things effect us!
Comment by Judi Light Hopson on August 7, 2011 at 9:57am
Having those friends to discuss things with is worth more than gold! It's almost impossible to be emotionally healthy without being able to "let your hair down" occasionally with people who truly care about you. Here's one thing I've learned over the years: Tell people how something made you feel--such as "That incident made me numb for days" or "My in-laws visiting for a week put me over the edge!"--but try not to dump too many details on other people. All of our friends will listen more if we do speak in kindness, as you say, and never cut down/destroy. I've found that throwing in a little humor helps, if possible...just so our friends won't be left feeling too heavy when we unload our problems on them.
Comment by Mark Poznanski on August 6, 2011 at 8:40pm
I listen to alot of Enya. A good warm/hot shower. I write down my thoughts about alot of things..even if they are less than desireable. I get the 'negative' or other thoughts out, in turn it helps me work through alot. A 'select' few good friends is excellent. My friends and I 'pledged' to be "honest" with each other, but to always speak in kindness; never to cut down/destroy.

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