LIFESTYLE: ARSENAL™ Seven Best Practices to Prevent Stress

The following seven best practices to prevent stress have been adapted with permission from:
The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions—and What to Do About It~ by Henry L. Thompson, Ph.D.

1. Awareness

  • Observe your experience: thoughts, feelings, actions.
  • Monitor your energy, health and stress levels.
  • Monitor your physiological conditions: blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, caffeine.
  • Use performance aids to keep you on track: smart phones, electronic calendars, …
  • Develop your awareness by practicing mindfulness.

2. Rest

  • Get enough sleep: 7 hours or more each day.
  • Schedule your activities according to whether you are a morning or evening person.
  • Include some personal time in each day.Take breaks and participate daily in activities that help you to relax.
  • Take power naps in the early afternoon.
  • Practice mindful breathing, body scan, …
  • Say “no” to new tasks if your schedule is full. Do not overload yourself.Plan a vacation or several 3-day weekends in the next 6 months. Put them in your calendar.
  • Eliminate tasks that sap your energy.
  • Get a hobby.

3. Support

  • Identify the people in your support system and how they help you. Keep contact information handy.
  • Use your support network to balance work and personal life. Get honest feedback.
  • Offer support to others.
  • Increase time around people who make you feel better.
  • Practice your faith; attend religious services, volunteer or engage in charitable activities.
  • Don’t hesitate to use your safety net – the people in your support system.
  • Stay in touch with friends.
  • Spend quality time with your family members and significant others.
  • Nurture relationships at work – your second family.
  • Use all available resources, including employee assistance programs.
  • Belong to civic or religious organizations that help you feel a sense of community.
  • Renew a relationship with a long-lost friend and reminisce about good time.
  • Network. Find people with similar interests – professional groups, alumni associations,…
  • Leave or replace groups that increase your stress or require too much personal time.

4. Exercise

  • Get a complete physical prior to beginning your Exercise program, as well as annual blood work.
  • Start moving. Walking is a good place to begin.
  • Set reasonable goals.
  • Establish baseline measurements of heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol,…
  • Keep detailed records of your progress.
  • Do a combination of cardio, strength and stretching exercises for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Do not miss an exercise session during the first 60 days, the time needed to transform a new behaviour into a habit.
  • Participate in a sport – running, swimming, basketball,…

5.  Nutrition

  • Make healthy food choices based on nutritional guidelines (e.g. Canada’s Food Guide).
  • Write down what you eat and include everything.
  • Make small, gradual changes to your diet.
  • Eat the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
  • Take time to eat; eat slowly. Eat smaller portions.
  • Weigh yourself daily and keep a record.
  • Minimize unhealthy food: sugar, trans fat, saturated fats, foods high in sodium,…
  • Drink 6 glasses of water every day.
  • Monitor your caffeine intake.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
  • Don’t skip breakfast.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements.

6. Attitude

  • Engage in activities that build your self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Smile.
  • See the glass as being half full.
  • Get feedback from people you trust on how others perceive your attitude.
  • Talk directly to the person you are unhappy with.
  • Be a team player. Ask team members how you can help them.
  • Balance optimism with a realistic appraisal of situations.
  • Always strive to do your best. Don’t give up.
  • Be socially responsible. Accept responsibility for your life and actions.
  • Don’t gossip. Find positive things to say about coworkers and your job.
  • Be part of the solution, not the problem.
  • Find a new position if you do not like your job or the people you work with.

7. Learning

  • Set daily, monthly, quarterly and annual Learning goals.
  • Spend time with others who like to learn: formal class, discussion group.
  • Learn something new outside your comfort zone and professional field.
  • Schedule time for learning.
  • Take online classes. Listen to and watch educational programs.
  • Take trips, visit other countries, and learn about other cultures.
  • Share what you learn with others. Discussion stimulates thinking.



Adapted with permission from:

The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions—and What to Do About It~ by Henry L. Thompson, Ph.D.

Prepared by Wally Lazaruk, November 2017

ARSENAL™ – ARSENAL is a trademark of High Performing Systems, Inc. The ARSENAL Basic Assessment is copyrighted © 2008 by Henry L. Thompson, Ph.D., and may not be reproduced without written permission from the copyright holder.