People in the Spotlight Under Stress: Mini – Stress Analysis Tragedy (Whitney Houston)
Whitney Houston’s angelic voice could not save her from a stressful and ultimately tragic end to her life. The world was shocked to hear of her death. She was too talented, beautiful, and young to die. Her rise to fame and icon status is well documented but there is little recognition of how being in the spotlight with its pressures as well as other stressors unseen by the public led to her death. Hans Seyle’s stages of stress called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) can shine some light on her fight with stress. The Stages are 1) The Alarm Stage featuring fight or flight reactions, 2) the Resistance Stage in which there are attempts to gather resources (personal, psychological, physiological and other forces) to cope with the effects of stress, and 3) the Exhaustion Stage wherein there is a breakdown of personal forces often experienced as the body reacts with sickness, injuries or even death.
Whitney was in the Alarm Stage from the time she began performing and demonstrating her outstanding talents. She also gained the responsibility to be great. The pressure to be “on and correct” in the public’s eye was really tremendous. As she became an icon, she was often faced with jealous and, sometimes, hostile interviewers prying into her lifestyle and later her marriage. In the Resistance Stage, She performed brilliantly most of her career with truly remarkable performances and record breaking sales of her albums. She also starred in movies like the Bodyguard. Kevin Cosner spoke at her funeral about how she overcame her anxieties and performed her role marvelously. But at what price did her performances come? She admitted to drug and alcohol excesses. These attempts to self medicate were seemingly augmented with prescription drugs, reportedly for stress, anxiety and sleep. Could she have found a better way to cope with the stress? The answer is yes. She attempted to get a more peaceful life by divorcing her husband and begin her personal and professional comeback. However, the Exhaustion stage showed during the final years of her marriage when her voice no longer responded to her angelic commands. She couldn’t hit notes as she once did. A worldwide tour, after her divorce, also was not as successful as it could have been because she had loss some of her abilities. At the time of her death, she was still on the comeback trail with a movie and promise to get her voice back and hit those notes that seemed to have deserted her. Could she have found her wings and voice in the same place? Her fans would like to think so.
Dr. Thomas A. Parker, LPC, CPCS
The Stress Rejection Doctor
People in the Spotlight Under Stress: Mini – Stress Analysis (Tiger Woods)
Tiger Woods is a living, world renowned golf legend. He has been in and out of the spotlight since he was a child. Has stress finally taken its toll on him? Hans Seyle’s research in the 70s led to the conclusion that there are stages individuals go through with stress. Those stages comprise what he called General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). The stages are 1) Alarm featured by the fight or flight reaction, 2) Resistance characterized by a marshalling of personal, physiological, psychological and other forces to cope with the stress, and 3) Exhaustion illustrated by the breakdown of personal forces often experienced as the body reacts with sickness or injuries. Let’s take a look at the very public figure, Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods has been on the scene and risen to nearly mythical status as a virtually unbeatable golfer and odds on favorite to win every golf tournament that he entered. He has broken barriers like being the first African American to win the Masters and amassed a fortune as a spokesperson for numerous products. Tiger faced tremendous pressure in all of his tournaments and made unbelievable shots to win many of those tournaments. He had injuries along the way and even won one tournament with a broken bone in his leg. He was adored by many until his personal life began to unravel. After his admitted affairs became national headlines, he could not escape the spotlight and stress that followed. As he experienced the Alarm stage of his stress, he could not successfully rebuff all of his attackers and he could not run too far because he was known worldwide. Reporters and cameras followed his every move. Throughout his Resistance Stage, it was reported that he entered a rehabilitation clinic and went through therapy as he fought to save his family and marriage. He endured what seemed to be the most negative experience of his life. His behavior was not condoned but he went through a very torturous period of his life.
Stress and the Airline Industry
The airline industry has had its share of stressed out employees in the past couple of years. Within the last two years, an American Airlines flight attendant had to be restrained during a flight because she expressed her fears about the plane going down. A Jet Blue flight attendant had a “melt down” and altercation with passengers, and on March 27, 2012, a Jet Blue pilot, Captain Clayton Osbon seemed to have had a panic attack aboard a flight. He had to be restrained and hospitalized for medical evaluation. Video taken by a passenger captured him saying, “I’m so distraught”.
Is there something in the airline industry causing this? Is this problem specific to American Airlines or Jet Blue? These are incidents that made headlines and were very public but what about the issues and situations that do not make the news or come to the public’s awareness? While reporting the latest Jet Blue incident, ABC Good Morning America’s co-anchor George Stephanopolous stated that “there is so much stress in the air.” Passengers complain about how they are treated by flight attendants. What is the industry doing to address the stress of its employees who interacting with the public? Should airlines do more? Are these pressures unique to the airline industry? How are things on your job and in your respective industries? Are there specific circumstances and situations causing excessive stress? Finally, is it fair to ask why are companies not aggressively addressing the issue of stress in their work force? The Public’s well being is in jeopardy when stressed out employees are unable to manage their stressors effectively.
Share information about some of these situations with us. Send the stories, comments, etc. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crisis in the Classroom: “Teachers Under Stress”
–Ain Modeira Baderinwa (B. Annette Daughtry)
Thirty years ago, the public school system was an excellent place to work. However, amid reports of teachers suffering from depression, breakdown, and suicide, teaching is now rated one of the most stressful occupations in the United States and abroad (Hill, The Observer, 2008). The teaching profession has undergone dramatic changes in these 30 years as it has become a progressively demanding profession. The impact of these demands on teachers and students are underestimated by those individuals and groups that implemented the changes. Teachers are no longer in control of how their classrooms are run; rather, they are given a list of unreal approaches that have been proven to be ineffective at all grade levels. Expectations and high demands from all stakeholders—administrators, parents, superintendents, board members—combined with the feelings of alienation, depression, burnout, and despair, and the school system has produced classrooms of stressed teachers.
One extreme case of a teacher under stress was reported in the UK where a science teacher in Mansfield retaliated after he was “ganged up on” in his classroom by his teenage students. The students were playing cruel jokes on him and were out of control. When one student started verbally attacking him, the teacher snapped—dragging the student out of the classroom and hitting him over the head with a dumbbell. It was reported that the teacher had recently returned to work after a five-month leave due to depression. The teacher was found guilty of causing bodily harm to the student but was cleared on charges of attempted murder.
In retrospect, is an ounce of prevention really worth a pound of cure?
Coming in May’s Issue: Part two – “Lesson Plan for Stress Rejection”
People in the Spotlight Under Stress: Mini-Stress Analysis Demi Moore’s Turmoil (Demi Moore)
The turmoil surrounding Demi Moore has captivated America for a number of months. How did she experience Hans Selye’s three stages of Stress? She is a beloved American actress and probably could be called a princess of Hollywood. America has adoringly followed her from the early years of her career through her marriage to Bruce Willis, the birth of their children and ultimately her relationship and marriage to Ashton Kutcher. Demi’s growth in movies, traversing through the world of Hollywood and being an A-list actress were all experienced as she went through the ALARM stage of stress. The RESISTANCE stage of stress for her featured coping with being married to and raising a family with Bruce Willis, one of Hollywood’s true superstars. But that life style proved to be extremely challenging. Eventually, even the love of two kids could not keep them together. Her life vacillated as her marriage ended and she rebounded by getting married to another even younger star, Ashton Kutcher. Partying and the good life were not enough as over the years that relationship began to wane. Rumors persisted about Ashton cheating on her. The final straws seemed to be the rumored affairs and losing Ashton to divorce. In the EXHAUSTION stage of stress, pictures of her clearly indicated that she was suffering from Anorexia. Pictures of a very frail Demi Moore in turmoil surfaced that caused a gasp from her fans. Was she also suffering from substance abuse? A 911 call captured her daughter saying that “she smoked something but the reaction was accidental”. There seemed to be an attempt to keep her substance abuse a secret. It was also reported that she suffered from severe convulsions that fateful evening. She finally had to be hospitalized after that episode. Her painful breakdown was visible to the world. She was reportedly treated for an eating disorder, Anorexia, substance abuse and overall exhaustion. She remained hospitalized and received treatment for a number of weeks. Demi’s ordeal is far from over but she is recuperating. Hopefully, she will continue to be treated for her stressful life events. An adoring public would like to see her alive, well and back on the big screen.
Getting Over the “Stress” of St. Valentine’s Day
By Ain Modeira Baderinwa (B. Annette Daughtry)
Advertised as the day set aside for “lovers,” St. Valentine’s Day can be even more stressful than the Christmas holiday season. This overly commercialized day has all the “hype” of Christmas and could leave you with feelings of anxiety and worthlessness if your faith is misguided. Misguidance can lead you to cliché “expectations.” Were you expecting any of the following-a card, flowers, chocolate, dinner, jewelry, time alone with him (or her)-and nothing, not even an acknowledgement, came your way? If this happened, then you may need to find a way to get rid of the stress that the can be caused by the feeling of being “‘let down.”
May I suggest that you try any one (if not all) of the following to get back to being a productive person in the workplace and a loving and caring person at home.
First, meditate in whatever manner you are accustomed to. If you believe in the power of prayer, then pray for strength, guidance, wisdom, and a renewed spirit and focus.
Do not wait for others to do for you what you can do for yourself. If funds allow it, buy something for yourself with the belief that if you truly are desirous of the item(s), then, do not deprive yourself. Just because someone else did not think to give something to you that you wanted, it does not mean that you cannot give it to yourself-you are so worth it.
Remember that GOD is love. Love GOD and love yourself. Think about all of the many blessings that He has bestowed upon you and give thanks to Him. Realize that GOD is good all of the time.
Un-invite yourself to your pity party. If you do not have enough things to do to occupy your time, then buy and read a book about self-worth. (Read your Bible.)
Do something good for someone else. Invite a friend, family member, or colleague out or over for lunch or dinner.
Exercise. Dance. Go for a walk (and invite someone to come along). Take care of one item that has been on your “to do” list forever.
Write a letter (or email). It is your decision whether to or not to mail/send it.
Plan a “me” day or weekend and pamper yourself. Write a poem and/or positive affirmations and say them to yourself. Build your confidence. Self-love and confidence show in your face, in your actions, and how you treat others.
And above all, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”
Holidays really illuminate the essence of stress because there is good stress and there is bad stress during most holiday periods and especially around Christmas. The joy of giving and receiving gifts, seeing the smiles on the faces of our loved ones and a general congenial attitude throughout the country all create mostly pleasant feelings. Everyone welcomes the good times. However, thoughts of losses including loved ones who are no longer with us, lost relationships or loneliness often elicit feelings of depression.
Many of us have been forced to cope with the loss of jobs, homes and, in the current economy, a way of life that allowed us to afford to give in the spirit of Christmas. Some people are feeling extreme stress to buy gifts and, maybe host large gatherings that they cannot afford at this time. The debt will cause the stress to linger even longer. I urge you to make tough decisions and give in the spirit of love if you can. Give only what you can afford to give or buy gifts that are not as expensive as you have in the past.
Sometimes the gift of attention, visit to a friend, relative or the elderly can help them and you feel the true meaning of the holidays. Try Random Acts of Kindness because they can work wonders. Another way to combat holiday depression and stress is to identify things that are triggers for the negative emotions and eliminate negative self talk that may equate your self-worth with the expense of gifts that you give. Engage in self talk that creates a positive internal dialogue about your choices during the holidays.
As the holiday period approaches, generally the good and bad anxieties begin to emerge. You can make this holiday period one to remember and less stressful by giving what you can truly afford to give, identifying negative triggers and creating a positive internal dialogue that allows you to truly enjoy this holiday period.
Here are some “Quick Tips” to enjoy more peace of mind.
Begin your day with a mindful, positive view of things you will accomplish that day
Decide if you want or deserve to be stressed about any situation that day
Take the time to think about each meaningful situation you will face that day
Evaluate your perspective of the situation (good, acceptable, really negative)and create a positive perspective, if necessary
Look at the pros and cons of your rational alternatives
Choose the best option and act on it
Give yourself a pat on the back for taking the opportunity to use your personal power
Finally, I recommend the Serenity Prayer as an oldie but a goodie.
Dr. Thomas A. Parker, LPC, CPCS
Initiating Your SELF Plans for the New Year
Happy New Year! I wish you a blessed and great year. How do you want your year to be? Lots of people are reflecting on things they did not like about the past year and making commitments to make changes. I suggest that all Stress Rejecters do something similar. Let’s call it your personal “State of Your Stress Address.”
Assess how your past year was from a stress perspective and set forth plans to make this year one that allows you to have more serene experiences. Were you calm and collected most of the time during the year? Were you nervous, jittery and the smallest thing threw you off of your intended plans? Were you on your last nerve with your family, your significant other, and or on the job? D id the drive home and traffic make you want to become the Hulk and take care of whoever was causing the traffic to move too slowly or erratically? If any of those conditions affected you, now is the time to begin controlling how you feel and react. You do not have to let Default Emotional Reaction/Responses(s) (DERs) rule you and cause you more problems. Your stress can accumulate and make you more vulnerable to uncharacteristic reactions. Also, remember that your stress causes immediate and long term emotional, psychological and physical problems.
No one is immune to anxieties about things that are seen as threatening. With each situation we all inadvertently practice getting better at conducting stress within our bodies. We think we are really handling things well until there is some mishap or physical reaction that can clearly be attributed to that accumulation of stress. When the issue of stress arises, most people give up, shrug their shoulders and ask themselves, what can I do about it? Another common reaction is to have a short term memory once the stressful situation seemingly passes. Those reactions do not solve the short term or long term problems that stress produces.
Make this the year that you begin to put in place some Selective Enhancement Life Focus (SELF) plans. It’s OK to have SELF plans. That protective process is different from being negatively selfish. Here are some suggestions to put forth in your SELF plans: 1) assess what is happening in your environment. What and Who are your stressors?, 2) identify Triggers for your anxiety, 3) identify physical, emotional, or vocal indications – higher pitched words, hollering, screaming, or crying) that your stress is elevated, 4) Work to analyze and find solutions to the problem(s) that exist. Realistically analyze them and decide if you or other parties are responsible for the problems before you respond or take action, 5) be proactive in dealing with the next situation by setting up an action plan to combat the situation, 6) practice your response before you face the next encounter, and 7) give yourself credit for taking the action that you take. Your action plan can be specific to the situation(s) you are encountering but you may want to consider using one or more of the following: assertion to confront the situation or person, a proactive and positive internal dialogue to counter the situation, Intra Muscular Tension Control that is learned and practiced, a regular exercise program, dietary changes which might include the intake of less caffeine or other stimulants that may affect you negatively. Above all else, remember that whatever looks like it is terrible and the worst possible situation or series of events is not the end of the world.
MAKE YOUR YEAR A GREAT YEAR!
Dr. Thomas A. Parker, LPC, CPCS
The Stress Rejection Doctor