Stress Management Series
“Understanding Stress--Study Resources” (SL#88)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 11 - Stress Management

For Reflection and Action: The following resources are intended to provide additional assistance in your efforts to identify and understand how stress has come into your life, pulled up a chair, and settled down to stay for a while--welcome or not. You may find many of the following insights reflected in SL#87 or elsewhere in this series of articles. Make note of your personal reflections and action as this material relates specifically to stress expressed in your life and leadership planning. Review this article until you can summarize “stress” in your life and how you respond.

1. Study Resource: Stress Warning Signals

A review abstract by Lloyd Elder from Part 4, pp. 175-285 of The Wellness Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Maintaining Health and Treating Stress-Related Illness, edited by Herbert Benson, M.D. and Eileen M. Stuart, R.N., M.S.; a Fireside Book published by Simon & Schuster; New York, 1992.

This book, resulting from 25 years of scientific research and clinical practice at the Harvard Medical School, seeks to combine the best of what you can do to enhance your health and well-being with the marvels of modern scientific health care.

Part 4, “Stress Management” (pp 175-285), is composed of six chapters: 10. Managing Stress; 11. How Thoughts Affect Health; 12. Feelings, Moods, and Attitudes; 13. Coping and Problem-Solving; 14. Communicating; and 15. Jest 'n' Joy.

Stress is part of our lives; any change is stressful because change requires us to make adaptations. What causes stress in one person can be an exciting challenge for another. This resource admits to using “stress” in the common usage as “distress”--the negative cycle of chronic or excessive stress that reduces coping and performance. However, “stress-hardiness” emphasizes the positive characteristics of stress such as control, challenge, and commitment. One psychiatrist advocates the “five L's of success,” of health and happiness: Learn, Labor, Love, Laugh, Let go.

The negative stress cycle can be avoided in the first place, but is difficult to interrupt: stress accumulates . . . activates the “fight or flight” response . . . causes stress symptoms either physical (e.g. muscle tension, pain) and/or psychological (e.g. anxiety, worry) . . . in turn increases stress. Stress warning signals may differ from one person to another, but some are common.
From p. 182 of The Wellness Book:

Physical Symptoms



Stomach Aches

Tight Neck, Shoulders

Sweaty Palms

Sleep Difficulties


Back Pain

Racing Heart



Ringing in Ears

Behavioral Symptoms

Excess Smoking


Compulsive Gum Chewing

Attitude Critical of Others

Grinding of Teeth at Night

Overuse of Alcohol

Compulsive Eating

Inability to Get Things Done


Emotional Symptoms


Nervousness, Anxiety

Boredom-- Feeling of No Meaning

Edginess-- Ready to Explode

Feeling Powerless to Change Things

Overwhelming Sense of Pressure




Unhappiness for No Reason

Easily Upset


Cognitive Sympoms

Trouble Thinking Clearly


Lack of Creativity

Memory Loss

Inability to Make Decisions

Thoughts of Running Away

Constant Worry

Loss of Sense of Humor


Do any of these stress earnings seem familiar to you?
Check the ones you experience when under stress.
Are there other stress warning signals you experience?

2. Study Resource: Symptoms of Anxiety
A study abstract prepared by Lloyd Elder from an Internet article by Archibald D. Hart, Ph.D., presented on

Dr. Archibald reports that anxiety symptoms fall into three categories: physiological, cognitive, and emotional. If you count the following symptoms that apply to you, you may get an idea of your stress level. The checklist is designed to communicate a variety of symptoms; the more symptoms you experience, the more likely you may need to explore treatment for anxiety-related problems. Now, the symptoms list:

Note your personal reflections, assessment, application, and action planning. Review this article until you can summarize “stress” in your life and how you respond

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© 2008; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership