North Ottawa Wellness Foundation

Effective Stress Management & Emotional Balance

Effective Stress Management & Emotional Balance

“Managing and navigating stress in today’s work environment is critical for both employer and employee as well as good work/life balance. Proven effects of managing stress are: increased productivity, lower absenteeism, a happier, less stressed workforce and improvements in employee health and well-being. Finding and utilizing the tools to navigate stress are game changers for employers in today’s environment of retaining and attracting employees.” – Joy Gaasch, President, The Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg

Current research in neuroscience and physiology help us recognize and understand the stress response in both our body and our mind, as well as the long-term consequences for our health, well-being and longevity. Modern life is busy, and ripe with stress-inducing moments and experiences. Sliding into a more ancient part of our brain as we activate our stress response, our bodies quickly shift resources away from our long-term health into short term survival mechanisms that allow us to fight or flee the life-threatening moment. This is helpful if the proverbial saber tooth tiger is jumping out of the bushes, but not at all helpful if we are trying to navigate stress in our work or home life. As our body prepares for survival mode, it bypasses our more advanced portion of our brains, our pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functioning and emotional regulation – both necessary for truly navigating stress-inducing and uncomfortable moments and experiences that arise is every day modern life.

“Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering” – Ida Scott Taylor McKinney

What does your unique stress response sound like?

Worry, anxiety, fear? Frustration, irritation, anger?
Disengagement, responding as if the moment were not happening?

Where do you feel it in your body? Tight shoulders?
Tightness in your upper chest? Butterflies in your tummy?

Understanding your own unique stress response allows you to more easily recognize it in yourself the moment you begin to slip into the fight or flight response. Take five deep breaths, allowing you to deeply access your relaxation response, where you can navigate uncomfortable moments with full access to your prefrontal cortex, allowing for emotional regulation and adding context to each moment, without activating the very powerful, and often unhelpful, stress response.

Take Five Deep Breaths

A simple breathing practice to help you navigate stress.

One is Good, Three is Great, Five is Fabulous!

Simple Tools to Navigate Stress

At Work – Pause before responding. Access your body’s Relaxation Response and process – what is truly happening in this moment? Then proceed to action, utilizing your prefrontal cortex portion of your brain before responding.

At Home – Pause, access your relaxation response. Process the context, what is my child / spouse / parent really asking for in this moment? Proceed to action, respond from the Relaxation Response.

Just for You – Create a daily practice of taking 5, or even 10-15 deep breaths. Can you begin and end each day with this simple practice? Retrain, literally rewire your brain to respond to stress from your relaxation response v. reacting to stressful moments and situations from your fight or flight/stress response.

Curious for More?

See what resources our community partners have to offer.

The Tri-Cities Family YMCA

Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting, and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts, and sensations occurring in the present moment.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools

Grand Haven Highschool Principal Tracy Wilson, GH Tribune Community Column, Are We Really Living in the Present.

North Ottawa Community Health Systems

September 2017 Feeling Stressed? Take Five Deep Breaths Community Newsletter article.

Shape Fitness Factory

Mindfulness Wellness Challenge, Shape Family Wellness Program.

Interested in the Supporting Research?