Your stress management plan

When you are satisfied with your choice of technique for each key stressor, you are ready to implement your SMP. Remember TPER: think, practise, evaluate, revise.

Start practising each of the techniques you have chosen for each of your key stressors. Practise these for two weeks.

Follow the suggested 12-week programme set out as a summary diary below. Develop your plan on day 0 (Sunday) and start practising the SMP on day 1 (Monday).

How to evaluate and revise your stress management plan

Day 14: Evaluating and revising your stress management plan

Day 14 (Sunday) is the time to assess your progress. Look at the plans (in Table 15.2) for each of your key stressors. Ask yourself âœIn which ways have the techniques used in the SMP helped or hindered?❠Make a note in Table 15.3 below, of any factors that have contributed to helping, or that have been unhelpful, for each key stressor.

Now look at what you have written and consider your techniques.

Continue to practise those techniques that seem to be making a difference. For those that are unhelpful, think about your SMP for the key stressor concerned. It may be that the technique needs to be practised for longer. Remember, for example, that effective modification of Type A Behaviour requires drilling over a period of at least eight weeks. Also, active relaxation techniques need a minimum of six weeks before becoming beneficial. So try to give the chosen technique a chance of becoming effective.

On the other hand if you find a technique unacceptable, rethink your SMP for the key stressor concerned. Write out in Table 15.4 how you intend to continue, with a revised SMP. Which technique(s) will you use for each key stressor? Your revised SMP may include most of the same information that you already have in your SMP for Day 1 (Table 15.2). This is fine. Keep all of your tables to monitor and evaluate your progress.

When you are satisfied with your revised SMP, practise all your techniques (new and original) for each of your three key stressors. Do this until your next evaluation which is on day 29.

Day 29: Evaluating and revising your stress management plan

On day 29 evaluate your revised SMP from day 14 (Table 15.4). Ask yourself âœIn which ways have the techniques used in the SMP helped or hindered?â

Make a note in a blank copy of Table 15.3 of any factors that have contributed to helping or hindering you in dealing with each of your key stressors.

Now look at what you have written and consider your techniques. Continue to practise those techniques that seem to be making a difference. For those that are unhelpful, think about your SMP for the key stressor concerned. It may be that the techniques need reviewing. You may need to follow up on other techniques. We have provided a reading list so that you can explore further afield. Or you may need more guidance. Again our resource base at the back of this blog can point you in the right direction.

On the other hand if you find a technique unacceptable, rethink your SMP for the key stressor concerned. Write out in a blank copy of Table 15.4 how you intend to continue with a revised SMP. Which technique(s) will you use for each key stressor?

When you are satisfied with your revised SMP, continue with the implementation – practise your techniques. Carry on practising until day 43. On day 43 assess your progress and revise your SMP as before.

Repeat the process of evaluating and revising your SMP, every two weeks, as shown in the summary diary using blank copies of Tables 15.3 and 15.4 that you copied earlier.

Day 85: Repeat self-assessment

How successful has your SMP been? Now that you have practised your techniques to deal with your three key stressors you are ready to reassess your signs and symptoms, Type A Behaviour, work attitude, work stress and coping ability. This will also be an opportunity to recheck your life events, although in such a relatively short period these will most likely be unchanged. Complete all the self-assessment questionnaires that follow.

You may not be dealing well with your demands and pressures and as a result your health, work performance and relationships may suffer. We suggest you go back and work through the SMP again. It may help if you recruit someone to support you as you work through the plan.

Learning new skills to deal effectively with pressures and demands is not easy and can take a considerable time. You may need to find the time for this. Tackle only two or three stressors at a time and do not rush. Eventually you will find effective techniques to deal with your stressors. Reducing your stressors a few at a time and, at the same time, building up your general coping skills, will gradually lead to managing your stress effectively.

After Day 85 start your SMP programme again to deal with another three key stressors. Keep repeating this programme to deal with your stressors as and when they arise.

Always keep a check on your life events score and level of work stressors. Remember that if your life events score increases, your body and mind are being taxed more. In this case you will need to concentrate on developing your general coping skills.

Monitoring your work stressors will provide an indication of the added pressures and demands you need to cope with.

Finally…

Remember that this stress management plan is meant to act as a guide to help you focus on particular aspects of your circumstances that you may not have otherwise considered. We must point out that most of our distress results from our interactions with others, and that in this blog we cannot prescribe individual tailor-made solutions. Each of us has to work on our own stress management plan according to our own individual situation. We wish you success in managing stress and being wise about your stress.

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