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Mental First Aid

nsad_logo2010Tomorrow is National Stress Awareness Day, so let’s take a look at a valuable idea from The Stress Pocketbook.

The Stress Cycle

Early in the Stress Pocketbook, author Mary Richards introduces a cycle of our natural response to stress, in the form of a threat or a challenge.

Response to threat

The problem is that, in a stressful work environment, we don’t get the time for our body to return to its normal state, before the next threat or challenge arrives.  So, instead, we get this result.

Stress cycle

Break the Cycle

One of the tools that Mary offers to break the cycle is what she calls ‘Mental First Aid’.  This involves turning your mind to something else, for example:

  • Daydreaming for a few moments
  • Self-talk to direct your mind to a productive approach
  • Thinking about how the situation is not so bad after all
  • Checking your attitude is positive

Physical First Aid too

You can get a far greater positive effect when you combine your mental first aid with physical first aid:

  • Control your breathing by taking slow, deep breaths
  • Release tension in your muscles
  • Sit up or stand up straight
  • Smile

More on Managing your Stress Levels

The Stress Pocketbook

The Stress Pocketbook is filled with tips and tricks and an essential guide. You might also like:

The Energy & Wellbeing Pocketbook

The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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National Stress Awareness Day

Today’s post comes to you from
Mary Richards, author of the Stress Pocketbook

12th Annual National Stress Awareness Day

National Stress Awareness DayTomorrow, Wednesday 3 November, is the 12th Annual National Stress Awareness Day. Organised by the Institute of Stress Management (ISMA) their website ( contains a balance of practical approaches and chilling statistics. It’s worth taking a look at. There are some good tips and they give some sound advice.


But just to make sure that I don’t add to your stress levels today, I would prefer to leave the nitty gritty to the ISMA and choose instead to tell you a story. So relax for a moment, step down a gear; read, absorb and enjoy…

When I was about 7 years old, my grandfather took me for a walk. There was nothing unusual in this, we often went for walks. Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we walked in perfect silence, listening to the birds, feeling the winds, watching the clouds, sensing the life around us.

As we came to the edge of the village pond my grandfather stooped down and picked up a stone. ‘Here’ he said as he passed me the stone, ‘throw this into the water.’ Laughing, I threw the stone high in the air and watched as it dropped, squealed with delight as it hit the water and splashed us. I quickly bent to pick up another stone, but felt my grandfather’s hand on my shoulder.

‘Look’, he said, ‘see what the stone has done to the water. You felt the splashes, now see the ripples. Wait and watch. See how long they last. See how far and wide they spread.’

And so we stood and watched. And as we did, I heard him say ‘As you grow, remember that you are like a stone dropping into the pond of life. You will create a lot of splashes in your life, it is inevitable. But just as you are responsible for your own splashes, so you are responsible for the ripples that come from them and touch the lives of others. The splash that comes from anger will send anger out to others. The splash that comes from kindness will send kindness out to them. You always have a choice. The responsibility is yours. Remember this.’

And although in my early years, I often forgot, I find that I am increasingly reminded by some quiet inner voice, that whatever comes my way in life, I have a choice. I have a choice of how I see it, and how I respond to it. My choice can make life more difficult for myself and others, or my choice can make it easier. My choice is my responsibility.

Have a smooth day, and a stress-free week.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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