Stress Management Group

Originally Written: August 3, 2006, Day 3 in Treatment #2

The group therapist started the discussion with a statement: Each one of us needs to figure out our optimal level of stress. It’s about finding the balance between enough stress to create motivation, but not enough to be overwhelming and create stagnation. If you think about it, any change in life can create stress. Stress can be a good thing, but also a very bad thing. How do I find my optimal level of stress? Collectively as a group, we talked about what stress can create. It’s shocking to hear the negative impact stress can have on people. I think stress can create:

  • Feelings of being scared, irritable, moody, and anxious
  • Thoughts of low self esteem, fear of failure, and inability to concentrate
  • Being embarrassing easily, worrying about the future, and forgetfulness
  • Behaviors of crying for no reason, acting impulsively, and losing your appetite
  • Physiology of sweaty hands, increased heart beat, being tired, urinating frequently, sleeping problems, diarrhea, butterflies in stomach, and pain in lower back

This conversation makes me question – what major life changes could have really caused me all this negative, unmanageable stress? I guess graduating from college without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my career, moving in with my boyfriend at the time (huge mistake, but I am not going to get into that just yet), bad break-up, moving back home with my parents, a new job that I hated, growing up, and feeling like a constant disappointment to myself and my parents. Negative stress plate = Pretty full.

Thinking of the future creates an unbelievable amount of stress for me. I can get trapped in my own head for hours going on and on about what if this happens and what if that doesn’t happen. It’s suffocating and paralyzing. Someone told me this quote and want to live by it, “If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you piss all over today”.

The group therapist, then, told us we must learn to manage our stress and here are the ways:

  • Therapist recommendation: Become aware of your stressors and your emotional and physical reactions. Determine what events distress you. My thoughts: What if everything stresses you out? What if you can’t determine what the real things are? What if you are so confused that you don’t even know where to start?
  • Therapist recommendation: Recognize what you can change. Trust your instincts. My thoughts: This is crap. How am I suppose to trust my instincts if I don’t even trust myself to eat? This is quite entertaining. Now we must think about if we can change our stressors by avoiding them and if we can reduce their intensity? Well, before coming here I avoided them very easily by throwing up. Does that work? This is ridiculous. I am not getting anything out of this group.
  • Therapist recommendation: Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress. My thoughts: This group is really starting to get under my skin because they are not explaining HOW to do all these things.

The therapist, then, asked us to think about the following questions:

  • Are you viewing your stressors in exaggerated terms and taking a difficult situation and making it a disaster?
  • Are you expecting to please everyone?
  • Are you overeating and viewing things as absolutely critical and urgent?
  • Do you feel you must prevail in every situation?

I mean seriously? Is this a fucking joke? What patient at Renfrew doesn’t? She, then, told us to find moderate views. What an epiphany. I have never thought about that before – Find moderate views. Wow…spending $850 a day is really worth it. How Nancy? How do we find moderate views?

We closed the group by discussing other things we can do to manage our stress. I agree with them and hope to learn how to implement them into my daily life.

  • Learn to moderate your physical reactions to stress.
  • Slowly breathe and relax.
  • Maintain emotional reserves and develop mutually supportive friendships.
  • Pursue realistic goals and expect some frustrations, failures, sorrows, and most importantly be a friend to you.