Stress Buster ….Embracing the Stress…and Providing the Service

It is not uncommon to feel a bit stressed. I frequently hear of students who suffer from stress, or anxiety – heck throw a math exam my way – never mind that it’s a grade 6 math test and watch the bullets of sweat bead up on my increasingly balding head.  This belies the fact that I did receive 100% in Math 30 back in the 70’s as I finished my high school math career. (That 48% the first year required a second effort and 52% in the second round to attain that 100% but still….who says traditional math instruction didn’t work).

Back to embracing stress…I have 3 daughters and 3 sons – the youngest is now 21 (I think) and all of them have their own unique ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.  Recently I had the opportunity to watch Kelly McGonigal (@kellymcgonigal and Kelly’s website with tips,videos, articles etc)  present at TED (not live I haven’t been that fortunate but on youtube). Check it out below.

 

Kelly McGonigal referred to a couple of studies in support of her work, here is a summary of the Keller, Litzelman study from the University of Wisconsin.

Jamieson, Mendes and Nock’s work on our choice to redirect our response to stress can be read here.   And a brief report of the study can be found here.   Jamieson, Mendes and Nock quote William James writing, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”  This aligns with my belief that we must never forget that our agency, our ability to choose is foundational in all that we do – that and the faith based notion that we will never be tested beyond what we are capable to endure.

Like any other skill or attribute our capacity to redirect or refocus stress and anxiety from debilitating to empowering or at least sustaining our work takes time, but like every other lesson it begins with a commitment to listen, read, and ponder the alternative responses and then giving it a try.

I particularly like the idea that service rendered to others, even when we feel caught up in our own tsunami of events and “stress” can provide us with a valuable stress buster and the capacity to get through the moment and increase our own capacity. I find myself challenged to be more mindful and keep my eyes open for opportunities to serve and support.

Check out Kelly McGonigal on twitter @kellymcgonigal and Kelly’s website with tips,videos, articles etc

What Kind of Teammate….

As the commissioner of football for the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) I had the opportunity during the weekend of November 21-22, 2014 in Lethbridge, with winds sustained for much of the weekend in the 20mph/40km range with gusts exceeding 50km, I watched as 10 teams competed for provincial championships in 6-man, and the four tiers basically aligned with school size with Tier I being schools over 1250 and Tier IV schools under 450.

As the weekend progressed I observed all manner of teammates, as I always do when I watch football, some of them on the team and others; parents and friends in the stands.  I find myself musing upon what type of teammate we are in our various endeavors as I consider the actions of those theoretically supporting their team in each of those games.

Are we the kind of teammate that gets a bit too focused on ourselves and forgets about the team?  I observed a parent who seemed to think that it was his job to stand over away from his own school’s parents behind the opposition parents and make comments designed to taunt, tease, even mock…why? I had spoken with the captains of the 10 teams competing for 5 championships on Friday morning and stressed that when they spoke with their parents Friday and Saturday don’t be afraid to remind your parents to be good sports in the stands. Clearly not all parents got the message – it did nothing – absolutely nothing to help the team, it did embarrass his school, other parents, and hurt the feelings of little brothers and sisters, and parents of the opposition. Really quite a selfish act when you think about it.

For the vast majority of parents and players the weekend was excellent, a lot of great plays and a lot of great support. If we keep it at the front of our minds to be the best teammates, everyone can enjoy the game…any game life presents to us, win or lose.