Why People ‘Brag’ About The Stress They Are Under (M)

Stress talk is a common workplace habit — but why do people do it and what is the effect?

Stress talk is a common workplace habit -- but why do people do it and what is the effect?

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Weight Loss: Awareness Of This Emotion Helps People Eat Less

Head and neck pain and problems sleeping are common signs of this emotion.

Head and neck pain and problems sleeping are common signs of this emotion.

Reducing stress can help people control their weight, a study finds.

Overweight mothers ate less fast-food and fewer high-fat snacks after taking a stress reduction course.

The course focused on how the stressed mothers could lead a more healthy lifestyle and not on lecturing them.

For example, they were shown how to recognise when they were stressed and to take a deep breath to cope with it.

Mothers watched videos that helped them with prioritising and time management.

Dr Mei-Wei Chang, the study’s first author, said:

“We used the women’s testimonies in the videos and showed their interactions with their families to raise awareness about stressors.

After watching the videos, a lot of intervention participants said, ‘This is the first time I’ve realized I am so stressed out’ — because they’ve lived a stressful life.

Many of these women are aware of feeling impatient, and having head and neck pain and trouble sleeping — but they don’t know those are signs of stress.”

The study included 338 overweight mothers on low incomes who all had children under 5-years-old.

Many were facing a number of difficulties, including poor living conditions, unstable relationships and financial problems.

Of the total, 212 participants were shown videos in which other women like them gave testimonials about food preparation, healthy eating, exercise and managing stress.

They also had access to an online support group.

The results showed that mothers who reduced their stress also decreased their consumption of high-fat foods.

Dr Chang said:

“It’s not that these women didn’t want to eat healthier.

If you don’t know how to manage stress, then when you are so stressed out, why would you care about what you eat?”

The tips mothers were given were very practical, such as using a chart to assign jobs to their children and rewarding kids for being well-behaved.

For stress management, mothers were encouraged not to blame themselves, but instead to think about how they could solve the problem.

Dr Chang said:

“I learned a lot from those women.

Everything needs to be practical and applicable to daily life — anytime, anywhere.”

Self-awareness of stress is important, said Dr Chang:

“We raised their awareness about stressors in their lives, and unfortunately a lot of these problems are not within their control.

So we teach them ways to control their negative emotions — remember that this is temporary, and you can get through it.

And give them confidence to look to the future.”

→ Read on: self-compassion is vital for stress reduction.

The study was published in the journal Nutrients (Chang et al., 2021).

6 Warning Signs You Are One Step Away From A Burnout Breakdown (M)

A 2020 Gallup poll found that three-quarters of Americans had experienced work burnout at some point.

A 2020 Gallup poll found that three-quarters of Americans had experienced work burnout at some point.

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Feeling Down After Loss? The Daily ‘Uplifts’ That Are An Emotional Lifesaver (M)

Discover the power of daily ‘uplifts’ – small actions that significantly improve mood and well-being.

Discover the power of daily 'uplifts' – small actions that significantly improve mood and well-being.

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The Attitude To Stress That Could Be Killing Your Mind And Body (M)

This view of stress is linked to mental health issues such as depression, as well as physical ailments like colds and the flu.

This view of stress is linked to mental health issues such as depression, as well as physical ailments like colds and the flu.

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Scientists Unlock The Secret Behind Stress-Induced Overeating (M)

A key molecule could explain why some people crave high-calorie foods after stressful events.

A key molecule could explain why some people crave high-calorie foods after stressful events.

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The Best Way To Support People Who Are Stressed

Attempts to support others that are phrased in the wrong way can increase stress rather than decrease it.

Attempts to support others that are phrased in the wrong way can increase stress rather than decrease it.

Validating other people’s feelings is the best way to provide support when they are stressed, research finds.

For example, saying “I can understand why you are upset,” is a helpful response.

Implicit in this message is agreement with — and acceptance of — the person’s feelings.

Other examples of supportive messages that are effective include:

  • “I’m sorry you are going through this. I’m worried about you and how you must be feeling right now.”
  • “It’s understandable that you are stressed out since it’s something you really care about”

In contrast, saying “Just don’t think about it,” is not a helpful response because it denies the person’s feelings.

Saying this tends to minimise the other person’s emotions and can be experienced as critical.

Attempts to support others that are phrased in the wrong way can increase stress rather than decrease it, psychologists have found.

Ms Xi Tian, the study’s first author, explains:

“One recommendation is for people to avoid using language that conveys control or uses arguments without sound justification.

For example, instead of telling a distressed person how to feel, like ‘don’t take it so hard’ or ‘don’t think about it,’ you could encourage them to talk about their thoughts or feelings so that person can come to their own conclusions about how to change their feelings or behaviors.”

For the study, 478 married adults who had recently had an argument were recruited.

They then looked at a series of six potentially supportive messages and imagined how they would react to them.

The messages varied in how ‘person-centred’ they were.

In other words, some messages supported and validated their feelings, others did not.

For example, this is a message that does not validate a person’s feelings:

  • “Nobody is worth getting so worked up about. Stop being so depressed.”

The results clearly showed that messages like this failed to improve marital distress.

Ms Tian expanded:

“In fact, those messages were perceived as dominating and lacking argument strength.

Those messages induced more resistance to social support, such that the participants reported feeling angry after receiving the message.

They also reported actually criticizing the message while reading it.”

In comparison, messages that centred on the person did make people feel better.

Professor Denise Solomon, study co-author, said:

“Another recommendation that can be taken from this research is that people may want to use moderately to highly person-centered messages when helping others cope with everyday stressors.”

The study was published in the Journal of Communication (Tian et al., 2020).

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