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Turning Stress Into Success

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Jaysa Hursa

on 23 July 2014

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Transcript of Turning Stress Into Success

Stress is a Choice
Stress is more than just a response from a stressful situation or stimulus. Stress is what occurs when we
choose
to react or respond to a stimulus in a particular way. We can choose to respond in a particular way, which could change our perception of the situation and alter our total experience.

Our total experience is dependent on how we cope with our stress.
We Respond By Nature
Naturally, our bodies respond to immediate, or short-term, stressful situations in such a way as to protect us from perceived danger. It's important to note that "The brain does not respond to danger, but to the
perception
of danger" (Burns). The body responds to a stressful stimulus in one of three ways:
Our Perception Matters
As emphasized earlier, our bodies respond to our perception of danger, not the danger itself. Within the gap between the stressful event and our response lies our
perception
of the stressor. Herein lies the key to transforming our stress into success. If we can learn to change our perception, we can change our reaction and, therefore, our total experience.
About 7 months ago, I was playing volleyball one night at the gym with a bunch of other girls that I play with every Monday night. I jumped up to block a ball that was being hit from a girl on the other side. As I landed, I realized I had landed on her foot. I rolled my ankle, fell to the ground, and heard a "snap" in the process. Sure enough, I had broken my ankle.

To paint a picture as to why this was stressful for me at the time, I'll inform you that this happened the last week of Spring semester last year, so it was finals week, the week of my 1 year anniversary, my husband and I had made plans to go out of town to celebrate, I had a job interview that week for a job I was so sure I was going to get, and I was supposed to be working a lot that week as it was. Needless to say, I was really upset and overwhelmed initially. Surprisingly, despite all the pain, the doctor visits, the doctor bills accumulating, etc., I somehow had a very positive attitude about the whole matter. I surprised myself really. In a way, it was almost as if I knew that the Lord needed me to slow down and think for a little while. Breaking my ankle was probably the only thing that would make me do so. I knew that the Lord had given me that trial and that I could endure it well knowing that he gave it to me for a purpose. I also saw all the positive things coming out of the experience, one positive thing after another, so I knew that the Lord had facilitated that trial and tailored it just for me. My positive thoughts certainly changed my actions and caused me to be much more patient, loving, aware of others, etc. Overall, it was a huge, positive growth experience because I was able to focus my
thoughts
and my
perception
on the matter in a positive way.

The Path of an Anxious Response
Turning Stress Into Success
Thank you!
Fight-or-Flight Responses
Fight
Flight
Freeze
Increased blood pressure
Well-oxygenated blood
Improved reflex speed and intensity
Tense muscles
Well-Oxygenated Blood
Tense Muscles
High Blood Pressure
Increased Auditory Acuity
Dilated Pupils/Increased Visual Acuity
Heart Rate Increases
Shallow, Rapid Breathing
Decreased Blood Pressure
1) Usually anxious responses begin with a
stimulus
, such as the one presented in this example, a bear.
2) Then comes the most important step in the response, our
perception
of the danger or stimulus.
3) We then
respond
to our perceived notion of the danger at hand.
4) Our bodies then attempt to
escape
that danger by either fighting, fleeing, or freezing.
5) Eventually, our anxiety is reduced and, typically, our bodies return to
homeostasis
.

There are, however, some people who have difficulty returning to a relaxed, homeostatic condition after experiencing stress (Burns).
Feedback Loops
Those who are unable to relax and reduce their anxiety are more than likely experiencing a feedback loop in their anxiety response. Rather than escaping danger and reducing anxiety to be relieved from the cycle, they feel that there is no escape, which only increases their anxiety and causes the response to cycle over and over again (Burns).


Our Stress Affects Others
Anxiety Theories
Cognitive Model
Exposure Model
Hidden Emotion Model
Biological Model
Based on the idea that negative thoughts cause anxiety
Based on the idea that avoidance is the cause of all anxiety
Based on the idea that niceness is the cause of all anxiety
Based on the idea that anxiety and depression result from a chemical imbalance in the brain and that you'll have to take a pill to correct it.
Coping
"Seeking to master, minimize, or tolerate stress or conflict"
Coping is the process by which we handle stress. Some people manage stress more easily than others. Coping can be difficult, especially in families. However, there are some tools that will help us to cope more effectively within families.
A Closer Look at Cognitive Theories
David M. Burns, M.D., believes that the first three theories, cognitive model, exposure model, and hidden emotion model, are true. He believes in the power of the mind over the matter. He states, "When you feel anxious, you're telling yourself things that simply aren't true...The thoughts that cause these feelings will always be distorted and illogical"

He goes on to explain that there are multiple cognitive distortions that we use: Magnification/minimization, emotional reasoning, should statements, blame, labeling, fortune-telling, etc.

Our thoughts determine our feelings and, therefore, our behaviors.
Our total perspective in stressful matters depends on the way we perceive, or think, about the matter.
Sometimes when we are in a stressful situation, we may feel that the situation, our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors are only affecting us. However, this is certainly not the case. Every thought, feeling, and, consequently, our behaviors that result from those thoughts and feelings, affect those around us, including our families, friends, and others we associate with.
Personal Experience
My oldest sister struggles with alcohol abuse and has struggled with it for many years now. The stress that it has put on my family, with us always wondering whether she will be okay, having to care for her child when she is not fit to do so, having to be patient when she doesn't seek for the help that she needs, etc., has been eating away at our family for years. We have all tried to help her, but it something that she needs to be willing to do for herself, and she isn't. Her problems are family problems because they affect all of us. We need to be conscious of the impact that our stress management has on others.


Family Stress Models
Two researchers made significant contributions to create a better understanding of family stress and coping:
Earl Lomon Koos
- "Widely credited as having created the first recognizable model for analyzing and discussing family stress" Known for the "profile of trouble" and "angle of recovery."

Reuben Hill
- "Considered the 'grandfather of the study of family' and the 'father of family stress theory.'" Known for the ABCX model.
Profile of Trouble
- Measured how drastically family functioning declined during or immediately after a crisis and how long it took to recover from the decline in functioning.

Angle of Recovery
- Measured how family functioning declined and then rose after challenges.

ABCX Model
- Takes into account the variables that influence and lead to the total experience of a stressful situation (A - Actual Event, B - Resources and Responses, C - Cognitions, X - Total Experience).
Family Stress Models
What About Family Decision Making?
It's hard enough to make decisions on our own sometimes, so how can we be sure to make effective decisions within our family units? We are all experiencing our own stress and affecting one another, so how do we find unity in that diversity?
Family Councils
Holding regular family councils is a great way to bring the family together in unity and offer a time and a place for unified decision making.
Elder M. Russell Ballard said, "This is the miracle of Church councils: listening to each other and listening to the Spirit" (Ballard, 2012).

Holding regular family councils allows us to invite the Spirit into our family decisions and helps to unify the family in those decisions.

A few key tips we should bring to our family councils:
Focus on the fundamentals
Focus on people
Promote free and open expression
Participation is a privilege
Lead with love
Stress is Normal
Personal Experience
All
humans experience stress. We all cope with stress differently, which makes for varied experiences (Williams).
Physiological Responses
Our bodies respond trough a rather complex series of reactions when responding through a fight, flight, or freeze response:
What exactly happens when we experience a stressful event?
How can we break the feedback loop pattern?
Let's take a closer look at perception...
Let's take a look at some theories and models that can help us understand perception more clearly
What exactly is perception, you might ask?
How?
I'm sure now you're probably wondering how this all applies or connects.

How can this help you personally?
Is it even possible to change our thoughts?

After all, many of our thoughts are seemingly automatic or unconscious...
Mindfulness
The answer is, yes! We
are
capable of controlling and changing our thoughts.

One powerful way that we can focus on achieving this control is through mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness
is more than just meditation - It is the process of becoming aware of what is happening NOW.
"Awareness is like bringing light to the darkness of mindless reactions. Once you can see them more clearly, you can choose to respond more skillfully" (Stahl, Goldstein)
Becoming Aware
Becoming aware of the present moment can enable us to focus on the
reality
of what is happening within that moment rather than the frequent mindless illusions we tend to create within.

"It is only in the present moment that you can make changes" (Stahl, Goldstein)
If you are still thinking about the bear example, you may be wondering how mindfulness and changing your thoughts will help you in this situation. I am not suggesting that these tools will be effective in reducing your stress in these particular situations. Our bodies respond by pushing into survival mode naturally in these instances. The type of stress we
can
control is the type we experience when we are in a feedback loop or when we are experiencing any other non-life-threatening, stressful events.
Can we Always Control Our Thoughts or Perception?
Let's take a look at some family stress theories and models to getting a better idea of how our stress and responses to stress affect others and how various aspects of crisis connect.
Digging Deeper
Double ABCX Model
Families Adapt & Adjust
FAAR Model
Connecting the Dots
These models were created and are used to aid in understanding how families experience and cope with stress. By understanding how our families respond and cope with stress, we can learn how to make those experiences even better and more positive in future stressful situations.
Establishing Resilience in Families
Resilience
- is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties"
"How well children respond to setbacks depends largely on how well their parents helped them develop the attitudes and the skills of resilience" (Burrup, 2013).
Ways We Can Establish Resilience in our Children
Resilience in families starts with the parents, but continues with the children. It's important to teach our children how to be resilient. Here are five principles to help children to be more resilient:

1. Paying the price for privileges
2. The law of the harvest (Earning their own money for wants)
3. Personal accountability and responsibility
4. The law of restitution (Repairing wrong doings)
5. Learning from mistakes
These are just some of the many tools that can be used to help families to cope more effectively through stressful situations in life.

Families can also draw upon other resources to help cope such as:
Extended families, friends, community, church community, schools, religion beliefs and practices, etc.


When you are feeling hopeless or stuck because of the overwhelming amounts of stress in your life either personally or within your family
Remember...
The Double ABCX model is an extension of the ABCX model and goes even further in explaining the process by which families experience a crisis. The Double ABCX model includes stressors even before a crisis occurs and takes into account resources, coping, adaptation that occurs after a crisis.
"The FAAR model explains how families go through cycles of adjustment, crisis, and adaptation. 'Families do not always progress in a direct, linear fashion through all the FAAR processes' (McCubbin & Patterson, 1983, p. 32). They may be stuck in one phase or return to an earlier phase."
References
Ballard, M. R., (2012). Counseling with our councils: Learning to minister together in the church and in the family, Revised Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company.Burrup, L. (2013, March).
Raising Resilient Children.
LDS Family Services
Burns, D. (N/A) When Panic Attacks http://knowledge.sagepub.com/view/individual-and-family-stress-and-crises/n6.xml
Shamai, Michal (2012). Couples' Dynamics Under Continuous Threat, A Study From Israel. Brigham Young University - Idaho
Stahl, B., & Goldstein, E. (2010).
A mindfulness-based stress reduction workbook.
Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Weber, J. G. (2011). Individual and family stress and crises. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Williams, M. (N/A)
Family Stress & Coping.
Department of Home & Family. Brigham Young University - Idaho
Reference: Dr. D. Burns
Reference: Williams, M.
Reference: Williams, M.
Reference: Williams, M.
Reference: Williams, M.
Family Types
The Family Typology Model
The Family Typology Model takes into account different family types. The creators of this model organized family response patterns into different types of groups: Regenerative families, resilient families, rhythmic families, and traditionalistic families.

The authors of this model suggest that a family's type is likely to be more effective than others in their response to stressors. This model helps families to become aware of their family type and the way they typically respond to stressors so that they can make changes in order to meet the needs of the family.

This model also separates the adjustment and adaptation phase because it suggests that some families are able to adjust without having to make lasting permanent changes.
Reference: Weber, Janice G.
Outcomes of Stress and Coping
Most families experience bonadaptation or maladaptation as a result of the process of experiencing prestressor pileups, cognitions, adjustments, coping strategies, and drawing upon resources before, during, and after a crisis or stressful event.

Adjustment refers to a temporary change and adaptation is a more enduring change that families take on:
Adjustment vs.Adaptation
Bonadjustment
- Effective, temporary change in how the family functions to meet the needs of its members
Maladjustment
- Ineffective, temporary change in how the family functions to meet the needs of its members
Bonadaptation
- Effective, lasting change in how the family functions to meet the needs of its members
Maladaptation
- Ineffective, lasting change in how the family functions to meet the needs of its members
Ways couples develop resilience:

Finding creative ways to remain close despite difficult times
Recognizing that couples move and change with time and experience
Establishing egalitarian relations
Reference: Shamai, Michal
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