This is the third installment on my series of notes from the Stress Workshop I attended last week hosted by our school district…
Once the speaker, psychologist Lou Bevilacqua, defined stress and who gets it, he gave some basic tips on what to do.
First, he said the following strategies do NOT work:
- shutting down
- melting down
The last two are important in my opinion because they are not as obvious no-nos as the others. Ignoring isn’t doing anything bad, per se, but it’s also not doing anything right. If you ignore feelings, the inevitably get worse- just like a little kid who’s not getting their parents’ attention… what do they do? Get louder. Same with a whisper of anxiety; it will eventually turn into a shout… then a scream. The key is to address it in the whisper stage.
I was so glad to hear him mentioning the harm of invalidating the person experiencing stress, since it echos my acronym for LOVE (Listen; Observe, *Validate* and Empathize). If a person is already stressed out, the last thing they need is to feel shame for being silly or not allowed to have their feelings respected with dignity.
So many people think stress is a bad thing… it’s not. It’s the body’s way of letting you know there’s a potential threat. So rather than stuffing down the emotion, acknowledge it, treat it, and move on. Otherwise, it will start to become a “Whack-a-Mole” game: the feelings will start popping up in all different areas in life. It’s why people wig out in line at the grocery store or snap at you for eating the last cookie… it’s usually something else they are NOT dealing with… For more on this subject, I highly recommend reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s works.
The speaker also said that the key to addressing stress is to deal with it in the moment. So many people just want to get past the time of stress, but that’s when the most progress can be made.
He explained it by saying it’s along a continuum. There’s an end goal, and you have to acknowledge where you are currently along that path. He said that you can’t rush getting to the end goal; you need to take it from where you are, and getting to the next step… then the next step. Each step in the right direction is a positive change. He then finished with the piece of advice that you have to trust the process.
At that point in the evening, the guidance counselor said that it would open up to taking questions from the audience. This is where I thought the evening was going to get to the meat and potatoes of the helpful instruction- how to learn different techniques to get further along that continuum for your child.
As it turns out, I was in for a huge surprise…
Make it your #153Promise to come back tomorrow to finish out the week with my final insights from the Stress Workshop I attended. (Or read the other posts from this week so far that you may have missed!)