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Jen Butler: Coping Methods for Physiological Stress

"Physiological stress is one of the hardest types of stress to overcome," says Stress Management and Business Consultant, Jen Butler. Many of the coping methods we use to calm down situational and psychological stress may not be effective for physiological stress. In fact, you may be replacing one stress trigger with another. Our physiological stress builds up, and "It's like you can't win."

Don't Substitute One Stress Trigger for Another

If you have a tough day at work and you come home, have a glass of wine, sit on the couch, watch TV and avoid your family, that avoidance is another stress trigger. "Stress hormones are still being released into your bloodstream, keeping you stressed," says Butler.  Another example is binge eating when stressed. Doing this overlays more psychological stress because you know it is unhealthy, and it affects your physiology.

Butler says, "When I'm stressed, I actually throw out all the junk food in my house. I never have Oreos, and I make sure I don't drink any alcohol. But when I'm not under stress, I can have those things in my house, because I won't overindulge in them. I won't use them as a maladaptive coping method for stress."

Address the Stress

Perhaps, start a conversation with your doctor. Butler recommends discussing stress with your primary medical doctor. "I know a lot of times, especially in the healthcare field, we have a hard time being the patient. Talk to your medical doctor and engage with your medical team. They can connect you with tools and resources that will help you go from unhealthy to even just a little bit healthier."

Focus on developing a healthy habit. If there is something you want to change but it seems too big to handle, your mind revisits this over and over, and stress hormones flow. One tactic is to develop a healthy habit that will be easy to do. Perhaps, you develop the habit of drinking less coffee. This will give you a sense of control. Another tactic is starting with the most difficult thing you want to change, "because if you can accomplish that, you can do everything else," says Butler.

Tap into the resources and tools you have at hand. Unaddressed psychological stress results in physiological stress. Whether it's feeling the need to learn new skills that are out of your comfort zone or improving relationships with co-workers or family members, take the initiative to move forward with this self-development. For example, the simple act of registering for a CE course to learn a new dental procedure you feel pressed to learn, will reduce stress you feel internally and improve your health. Scheduling time for intentional learning or discussion, and of course, follow through, will address the root causes of your stress.

Gather the support of others. "Let's say you want to start exercising more, but going to the gym is not your thing. Well, start a walking club, walk with your neighbors, walk with your team member," says Butler. If you want to lose weight, you can join a Weight Watchers support group or start a healthy eating club at work to share healthy recipes and ban junk food from the lunchroom. 

Remember 

Over exertion, over eating, laying on the couch, and so on, are not good for our health and well being. Think of stress triggers as problems to be solved. Transitioning from the problem avoidance lifestyle to a problem addressing lifestyle takes intention, but will result in a healthier, happier life.   

About this Industry Leader:

Minal Sampat, BA, RDH - Profile Pic

Jen Butler, M.Ed, BCC

Stress Management and Business Consultant, JB Partners Inc.

Jen Butler is the founder and CEO of JB Partners, a SMaRT (Stress Management and Resiliency Training) firm dedicated to the success of leaders and teams and the long-term sustainable profitability of businesses. Building on her MEd in educational psychology and 25+ years of experience, Jen is a Certified Coach (Center for Credentialing and Education; and International Coach Federation), a Certified Book Yourself Solid (TM) Consultant (Michael Port), a Kolbe System Certified Consultant, and a Nationally Trained and Certified Presenter, who is also IAS Certified. As a dental consultant and then dental executive coach, she has worked with dental professionals to reduce stress, identify areas of opportunity, set actionable goals and enjoy more fulfillment. She travels throughout the United States to provide leaders, teams, and businesses with one-on-one onsite guidance in managing stress, turning around their business, and achieving real, long-lasting results.

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