Video: Life S.A.V.E.R.S. – Six Strategies to Reduce Stress

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

Hello, and welcome to our presentation on Life S.A.V.E.R. First, we're going to introduce ourselves, and then we will move on to the strategies. I am Dr. Robin Washington-White. I earned my PhD in Family Therapy from Texas Women's University. I also am a licensed professional counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a national certified counselor, and I was a faculty member for seven years at Cedar Valley College and was elected the Vice President of my faculty association. Currently, I serve an interim role as -- of student success, Dallas College on the Cedar Valley College campus.

Speaker: Dr. Charles

Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Adlai Charles. I am currently serving as a faculty member and counselor at the Cedar Valley campus. I earned my doctorate degree in educational leadership with a concentration in law from the Texas Wesleyan University. I also earned two master's degrees, one in counseling and one in educational administration from Prairie View A&M. I also have over 12 years of K-12 educational system experience. So why are we doing this presentation? The purpose of this presentation is to provide six --2020. 2020 has been such a stressful time for so many. We are experiencing, for the first time in our lives, a global pandemic. Some are stressed about the election, the presidential election. Others may be stressed about social injustice with the protests that are going on. Some may be stressed about work or restructuring that's happening at work. Some may even be stressed about family, or just regular life issues. So, to give you usable strategies

-- six simple strategies to help you deal with your stress. Symptoms of stress. You could experience headaches, sleep disturbance, muscle tension, irritability or short temper, lack of concentration, fatigue, an upset stomach, anxiety, or frequent colds. So, it's important that you get your stress under control. Stress will affect your brain, your cardiovascular system, your joints, and your muscles. Stress can cause increase inflammation, aches, pains. Symptoms of stress can develop through your skin, your gut, your reproductive system.

So, it's very important that you have strategies, basically to save your life. S.A.V.E.R.S. S.A.V.E.R.S. can help you manage stress. So, the first of the six strategies, the S.A.V.E.R.S. strategy, the S in S.A.V.E.R.S. is for silence. Imagine waking up in the morning, and instead of rushing carelessly into your hectic day, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, imagine that you, instead, spend the first minute sitting in peaceful silence. You sit, very calm, very peaceful, and you breathe deeply, slowly. Maybe you say a prayer of gratitude to appreciate the moment or pray for guidance on your journey. Maybe you decide to try your first minute of meditation. As you sit in silence, you're totally present in the now, in the moment. You calm your mind, relax your body, and allow all of your stress to melt away. You develop a deeper sense of peace, purpose, and direction. The benefits of meditation: It reduces stress, it could help you to control anxiety, it promotes emotional health such as depression, it enhances self-awareness, it lengthens your attention span, it could reduce age-related memory loss; you could even promote kindness through yourself through meditating, positive thoughts. It could also help to fight off addictions. It could improve your sleep, help control pain, and it could decrease your blood pressure. So together, we found some apps that you can use.

One app that I personally use is the Calm App. The Calm App has music or sounds of nature, sounds of the rain, sounds of the ocean, so you can go to Calm in the AppStore and download it to your phone to help you relax. Now, I'd like to share just some personal silence practice -- started since the pandemic. I actually chose a room in my house, a space in my house where I could go where it's quiet, where I could meditate. This is a space that's away from television, away from technology, and so I can sit in it and reflect. One of the things that I tend to do when I like to get in a quiet space and frame of mind, is I just go outside on the back porch, most of the time. I like to go out there and just look at the trees, look at the sky, just kind of kick back and take in nature. Just to relax and be in the presence of calm and no distractions. So that is one of the ways that I practice silence to relieve myself of stressors that are present around most of us. Okay. So, the first strategy is silence. The second strategy, the A in S.A.V.E.R.S is for affirmations. What are affirmations? Affirmations are positive statements. They replace negative self-talk with positive statements. They can have a significant impact on your overall quality of life. In the yellow box, there, you'll see 'I Am' is two of the most powerful words, for what you put after them shapes your reality. You pull out your daily affirmations, the ones that remind you of your unlimited potential and your most important priorities. And you read them out loud from top to bottom as you focus on what's most important to you, your level of internal motivation increases.

Reading over the reminders of how capable you really are gives you a feeling of confidence. Looking over what you're committed to, what your purpose is, and what your goals are, re-energizes you to take the actions necessary to live the life you truly want, deserve, and know now it is possible for you. Most of you know Maya Angelou. She was very good with 'I Am' positive affirmations. Here is one of her quotes: "I am a woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that's me". That is a powerful statement, a powerful 'I Am' statement. I am. Write your own affirmations. The more you repeat the same affirmation, the more your unconscious begins to believe it. By continually subjecting our minds to positive thoughts, we are actively changing how our brain functions. For instance, Pharrell. Everyone knows the song 'Happy', right? I am happy.

Happy was one of his most profound and, pretty much, enjoyable by all, songs to just reaffirm the feeling of happiness. Happiness within his song, and positive songs that you might want to listen to yourself could promote those good feelings of positive affirmations. So, we'll share what we personally do, or what affirmations we possibly, personally use with ourselves. Since the pandemic, since I've been home and I've not been able to go out and see family and share with friends, instead of saying, "Oh, I'm stuck at the house and I can't go anywhere" I have rephrased that and changed it to, "I'm at home improving myself. I'm working on my projects for work. I'm working on exercising and reading". So, my affirmation is I am improving myself during this pandemic.

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

Dr. Charles, what's your affirmation that you're using?

Speaker: Dr. Charles

And the affirmation that I use from time to time is, "I am okay". During these times of rapid change and stressors, whether it be health related throughout the world, or politics, or even family relations, the positive affirmation that I'm okay is very significant. I was okay yesterday. I'm okay today. And I choose to believe that I will be okay moving forward in the future. So, a positive affirmation that I continue to lean upon is that I'm okay. And it also strengthens my faith that good things are still in my life and yet to come. So, affirmations, overall, are very important. It's very important to reduce your stress with positive self-talk. So, we encourage you today to write your own affirmation. The third strategy is visualization. Imagine yourself rising above the situation that you're in, in time. And picture what you want your life to be, what you would like to have in your life. You close your eyes, or you look at your vision board, and you visualize. Your visualization could include your goals, what it will look and feel like when you reach them. You visualize the day going perfectly. You see yourself enjoying your work, smiling and laughing with your family, or your significant other, and easily accomplish all that you intend to accomplish for that day. You see what it will look like. You feel what it will feel like, and you experience the joy of what you will create. "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve", Napoleon Hill. So, yes. Pinterest. You can create your own vision board. You can select pictures from across the world and save them and look at those. This quote here, says, "Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change". So, it's very important that you visualize what you want. Also, you can watch videos. Videos are visual, but you want to focus on watching videos or programs that are uplifting and inspiring.

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

Dr. Charles, what's your personal share on visualization? Do you do anything to visualize?

Speaker: Dr. Charles

Yes. When I visualize, I try to watch positive movies and look at positive scenes, or art, or just projecting that image of what I'd like to see positive happen in my life. Let's say I look at a picture of the beach. I'd like to visualize that through all the hard work and sacrifice that I'm putting in today, that eventually I might just end up at that beach. So, within that visualization, it really helps to strengthen along my path. And along with that, I like to add that I try to take cues and visualize things from the past. Whether it be memories of my grandparents, or just positive experiences that my family and friends instilled in me, I try to visualize the vision that they instilled within me to be better today and the next day than I was prior. So, visualizing really helps me to set those mental goals and be able to see the results of persevering. The next strategy in the S.A.V.E.R.S strategy is the letter E for exercise. Exercise is so important to reducing your stress and your overall wellbeing. According to the Mayo Clinic -- exercise in any form can act as a stress reliever.

Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract from daily worries. You stand up and you spend the last few minutes doing exercises. This could get your heart rate up, help you to get energized, wake yourself up, and increase your ability to be alert and focused. How would you feel if you started your day like that? How would the quality of your day, or your life, improve? Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level, while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair-climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai-chi, gardening, weightlifting, and swimming. Exercise is so important to your health and your well-being. One personal example that I have is I purchased the Fitbit watch, and so the Fitbit actually counts my steps, and my goal is to have 10,000 steps per day. Now, that goal was easy to reach when I was going to work every day and going about to restaurants and to the mall. But now, since we are in a pandemic and a lot of times we're sheltering -- it's a little bit more difficult to get that exercise in, but I make it a point to every single day, go walking or ride my stationary bike at home. So, I use the Fitbit and would recommend getting one if you don't have one.

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

Dr. Charles, how do you personally exercise? What do you do?

Speaker: Dr. Charles

Yes. I don't have a Fitbit, but I do lean on my Apple Watch quite a bit. So, I use the apps on my phone and my Apple Watch from time to time to keep me motivated to continue my exercise progress. Currently, I do walking, biking, I lift weights, I do as many aerobic exercises as possible to try to strengthen my core and just to stay fit and, of course, flexible because you know, as we age we have to kind of stretch those ligaments out. So, on that personal note, once again, I really try to do as much as I can to not only be mentally sharp, but to physically exercise because it does have a significant effect on my feeling of well-being and sharpness. And I believe that exercise is an important aspect of being just together and relieved of all of those stressors that affect us on a daily basis.

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

Okay. So yes, please exercise. It is extremely important. If you could only take one of these strategies, I would recommend the exercise, personally. The next strategy is the R -- which is for reading. It says, a little reading is all the therapy a person needs, sometimes. So reading is very important. If you can find inspirational material to read during this time, that would be great. You grab yourself a self-help book and invest one miraculous minute reading a page or two. You learn a new idea, something that you can implement into your day. You discover something new that you can use to feel better, to be better. There are incredible benefits of reading. It gives you mental stimulation, stress reduction, it allows you to relax, it gives you stronger analytical thinking skills, it assists in memory improvement, it improves focus and concentration, and it also brings inner peace and tranquility. The first one you'll see on the screen is by Dennis Kimbro, it's "Daily Motivations for African-American Success". So, this is a book that I found. It is 365 days. So according to what day of the week it is, I can just pick it up, turn to November twenty-third, and it's going to give me some motivation for the day. And it's very quick, it's just a page or so. And then there's some other books, but it's very important that you keep filling yourself with positive reading material. Dr. Charles, what do you read or how do you work on reducing stress through reading?

Speaker: Dr. Charles

Well, Dr. Robin, I'm glad you asked. I really enjoy reading. One of the books that I not too far along ago read, recently, was Destiny by T.D. Jakes. It's a great book. I read it to get not only spiritual motivation, but just you know, those great conversations and talks that he has within his books, just to help to keep me motivated. I thought that was a really good thing for me because I try to read as much positive self-help books, and what not, that I can because it helps me not only personally, but it also helps me when I interact with students and what not, to give them just tidbits of information that could hopefully spark up their day and just give them a better outlook on life. Another book that I recently read was Let Love Have the Last Word by Common. He's an entertainer, author, speaker. I just really get a kick out of the things that he says. He reminds me of sort of, like an older brother, or what not, just to listen to him talk sometimes and chime off of the things that he has to say. So that was a good book. Also, recently, I read What do the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast? That was a very interesting book that taught me a lot about just the attitudes and behaviors of successful people, and what they do in the morning before they even eat breakfast.

So those are just a few of the books that I've read recently that really had a positive affirmation in my life as far as reading. Okay, great. So yes, definitely. Reading can be therapy in and of itself. The final S in the word S.A.V.E.R.S. is for scribing. So, scribing could be writing or journaling. How can writing help you reduce stress? Imagine. Pull out your journal, and in your journal, you take a minute to write down what you're grateful for, what you're proud of, and the results you're committed to creating for that day. Doing so, you put yourself in an empowered, inspired, and confident state of mind. So, when it comes to writing, you may ask, "What can I do? What should I write?" So, you can write your goals. For example, your -- your long-term goal, where you'd like to see yourself in the future. You can write five things that you're grateful for. You could also write about your accomplishments. You can reflect -- say, "Hmm, I finished high school. [inaudible] year of college". So, you can write about accomplishments. You can journal your feelings, your thoughts, your experiences. So, writing or journaling is a great way to process your thoughts and reflect on your life. The benefits of journaling.

It could help you to reduce stress, help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health, it could give you a healthy outlet to express yourself; it can help you to manage anxiety, cope with depression, prioritize problems, fears, and concerns, and help you get those in order. It could also help to provide an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors. So here are some resources that I personally use for journaling or for writing. My favorite is called the Grid Diary. So, this is a diary that you can download to your phone. So, you can go to the AppStore, download Grid Diary. What I like about Grid Diary is its small boxes, and it gives you titles, or you can select titles. So, for example, you could have goals, you can have gratitude; you can have most of those categories that we're talking about on the previous slide. And so, every day, you can just jot down my three goals for today, or my three long term goals. You can jot down three things that I'm grateful for. And you can jot down your affirmations. So [inaudible] the Grid Diary.

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

What do you [inaudible] scribe, or how do you scribe?

Speaker: Dr. Charles

Yes. From time to time, I scribe on Day One. It's an app that -- I guess some of you can tell that I like Apple products, within my iPhone and my iPad, and my MacBook, and all those sorts of things. So, it uses a cloud-based format, and what it does is it allows me to journal or scribe, depending on how I'm feeling on a particular day. If I want to write something down, whether it be a positive thought, or something that might be troubling me. The Day One app, within the phone and the iPad and of course I can access it on my computer, allows me to have multiple outlets to scribe, to write down those thoughts, to just release things that I might want to record and reflect on at a later date. So, it is very helpful to jot down those thoughts, even if it's just to trend your moods or to see how you respond repetitively, or maybe not repetitively to certain situations that may have occurred in your life. It could also even serve as a timeline, just to show you how much you've progressed from where you were at point A, and the growth that's transpired since you've gone through B and C. So scribing is a very powerful tool that you may want to utilize from time to time.

Speaker: Dr. Washington-White

Wow. That's great, Dr. Charles. Scribing is definitely very powerful. Journaling, writing your thoughts, very powerful tools. So, we have reached the end -- presentation. If we were face to face, we would ask -- we would ask -- which one of these six -- today. It would be great if you can use all six of the strategies. If you could apply the six S.A.V.E.R.S. strategies to your life, take time for silence, write your own positive affirmations, spend time visualizing, seeing yourself where you want to be, exercise some every day, make sure you're reading something inspirational, and then scribing. Scribing is very important. So hopefully these six strategies together will help you change your mood and change your life. These strategies can actually be a life saver. So, we would like to thank you, today, for listening to the presentation. We hope that it's been helpful to you during these challenging times and thank you.

Speaker: Dr. Charles

Yes. Thank you, very much.