WOW Word-Of-the-Week #437: Proactive

December 20, 2012 by  

Proactive – acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty.

Did you make time to “break a sweat” and exercise last week? How did that make you feel? Did you enjoy taking time to relax?

This week’s WOW is the follow up to last week’s Heidi Stevens’ article from the Chicago Tribune titled, “TAMING STRESS”  featuring Thea Singer’s “5 things you can do so you will be less reactive to a stressor when one hits. It’s really important to be proactive.”

  • 1. Break a sweat: Exercise is a good stressor and it trains your brain to relax.
  • 2. Offline friending: Scientific studies have shown that those who have greater social support are less reactive to stressors than those who have less support. When we experience emotional pleasure, our reward circuitry kicks in. When we experience emotional pain, a different part of the brain kicks in. In those who exhibit more social support, the part of the brain that experiences pain is less reactive during “stress” than in those with less support. And the benefits apply whether you’re giving or receiving social support. Call a pal. Join a book club. Volunteer.
  •   3. Skip Ben & Jerry’s: Stress eating makes us feel better, but over time it wears down our ability to keep anxiety at bay. It kicks off a pleasure center, the same way drugs of abuse do. But once it wears off, the cycle starts over and we crave the same food to kick off the center again. This actually raises our stress levels and increases our cortisol levels. I recommend you think of something else that brings you satisfaction that will also kick off the reward center, but that won’t get you into that whole cycle again. Carrots and celery are not necessarily pleasurable. Do something that you enjoy: Take a mindful walk, read a book, jump rope.

This week’s focus is on being proactive and being prepared to handle any expected difficulties. Do you have a backup plan in place if something goes wrong? How many social support systems do you have? What activity other than eating brings you pleasure?