I.H.O. – The Stress Management Technique that Works!
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The coronavirus outbreak has created a ripple effect of stress for many people that spans beyond the fear of physical illness alone. Depending on your situation, you may be experiencing hardships emotionally, financially, or in your relationships with others. Chronic stress that goes untreated has been associated with health conditions such as depression, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Fortunately, we can learn ways to combat the emotional, physical, and mental impacts of stress. Be Well Solutions has taught people successful stress management for years, using a model that encourages people to respond rather than to react, and to examine strategies that allow one to focus energy on managing the things under their control.
Know Your Symptoms of Stress
Stress can rear its ugly head in many ways and wreak havoc on our health. Sometimes it is easy to spot certain physical signs of stress in our lives – fatigue, headaches, chest pain, body aches. But people experience stress-related symptoms differently. We divide stress-related symptoms into three general categories:
- Trouble making decisions
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling apathetic
- Digestive problems
- Headaches and excess tension
- Aches and pains
- Increased blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased alcohol intake
- Substance abuse
- Binge eating
- Increased smoking habits
- Nervous habits (e.g., nail-biting, jaw clenching)
Begin to recognize your stress-related symptoms and understand the importance of “self-checks” throughout the day to note of any changes you’re feeling emotionally and physically.
Taking Control: The I.H.O. Method
Being able to identify stressors and symptoms in your life is an important step to creating a healthier lifestyle. Take a moment to identify the stressors in your life; make a shortlist. They may be related to work, family, finances, or a combination of these.
As humans, we have the option to react to stressors (impulsive) or respond (thoughtful) to them. You can begin taking control of a stressful situation by following the I.H.O. Method.
Ask yourself: Can I do something about this stressor? Is it within my control to address?
In My Control
- Yes, I CAN do something about this.
- Put your time and energy here.
Help from Others
- Yes, I CAN do something about this, but I need HELP from others.
- Put your time and energy into this. Reach out to those that can HELP
Out of my Control
- No, I CAN’T do anything about this.
- Put your time and energy elsewhere.
When you start to feel yourself reaching a high level of stress, follow these steps to respond instead of react:
- STOP – Separate yourself from the stress.
- BREATHE – Take a deep breath and slow down (deep breathing can relax your nervous system).
- EVALUATE – What can I do? Use the IHO Method for controlling stress. Address the things in your control to help reduce the stressor.
- REVIEW, REWARD, AND REINFORCE – Utilizing these steps will help to reinforce the best way to deal with stress and reinforce new habits!
How to Recharge
Having healthy habits in your life can lessen the effects of stress and lead your thoughts to a happier place – leading to more positive feelings, behaviors, and habits. Try focusing on:
- Having a social support system
- Relaxation techniques – meditation
- Deep breathing techniques
- Engaging in routine exercise
- Practicing healthy sleep habits
- Focusing on a balanced diet
Using the I.H.O. model, recharging in healthy ways, and focusing our energy on situations we can improve, are key ways to address the challenges coming our way in the upcoming months. Every month, Be Well Solutions strives to bring you strategies to proactively improve your health. We hope you use these approaches to conquer the stressors under your control.
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