Stress & Strain

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

"Coping with Glass Ink in Small Places"

Stress & Strain

In this age of super hyper digital, legal and political anxieties, children feel the stress. The Irish Times reports that although bouts of stress can be motivating, prolonged episodes are debilitating. So, it's important to learn what stress & strain relief techniques can help.

Stress can be thought of as any force that pushes or pulls a psychological function or physical function beyond its range of stability according to Dr. Voyles (2019). Stress can lead to strain. And strains are undesirable outcomes resulting from the combined stressful experiences of various life domains. In models of workplace violence following the "going postal' era, high levels of frustration were found in potentially lethal employees. In this era of mass shootings, high levels of frustration may be found as the potentially lethal weapon. Stress leading to strain and beyond can be theoretically dangerous.

Child and adolescent psychotherapist Colman Noctor works at St. Patrick's Mental Health and says that stress and anxiety in children are definitely on the increase. They are among the most dominant features of all conditions. Coping with glass stress that others cannot see is often a personal challenge. We naturally tend to hide what hurts. Things like perfectionism or please all parent and teachers alike can be a cause that only a fictional superhero like "Divide on a million pieces man" can live up to. How do we help people in small places cope with their own unique pieces of expectations?

(Courtesy:, 2014)

Some therapists harness the power of play. Others practice art therapy. And still others believe that simply listening or children hearing the words "I love you" are therapeutic. But in all, parents and caregivers should recognize and work with their child’s own personal gifts, rather than possibly taking away thinking that because another child next door goes to Brownies, Yoga, and writing class, that their child needs to do the same. And authors of these lives (in divorce court circumstances) need to realize that each family member has their limits. Going above and beyond these limits while at the same time doing a fabulous job writing those papers orders can still be straining on the small places.

Coping with Stress & Strain

Dr. Voyles (2019) teaches that various ways to think of coping to help us manage or reduce stress and strain. She explains that there is a problem-focused way to cope and an emotional-focused way to cope.

Problem-focused ways of coping are behaviors or actions aimed toward solving or handling the stress-inducing problem itself. Whereas emotion-focused ways of coping cognitively (thought-related) are strategies to minimize the emotional effects of stress-inducing events. It's also plausible that a third breakthrough-focused (community similarity-related) way of coping minimizes the effects of stress-inducing situations.

A problem-focused way of reducing the amount of stress and strain related to keeping up with multiple time schedules, for example, would be to remove to adjust certain events. If a child has to build a box car for a Boy-scouts derby race and is scheduled to be with a parent is it scheduled to be out of town for work, then safety files could either help build a bridge between the needs of all parties involved, or else family members could work together instead of apart and adjust one of those problems themselves. This is where the importance of individual decision making could come into play.

An emotion-focused way of reducing the amount of stress and strain related to thoughts of having to be a perfectionist in every piece of one's life is to relieve those thoughts with supportive counsel like "It's great that you're awesome, but sometimes outsiders make step on our own toes if we dance too fast. A more fitting strategy is to dance gracefully with each partner and wherever together." This is where the importance of group decision making could come into play.

A breakthrough focused way of reducing the amount of stress and strain related to obstacles which barriers is to reach out and read or learn how other people who faced similar obstacles moved past those barriers. We see these breakthrough models in various "Rags to riches" stories and real testimonies of how people conquered what seemed to be insurmountable odds to get to their relief. President Barack Obama, for example, focused ways through barriers getting to the states, into Harvard, through the Illinois General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, and to president and beyond. This is where research, reading and common sense comes into play.

With breakthrough focus, there are ambiguously rewards that can be witnessed and formally documented whenever possible. These are the "President Obama" hurdles conquered. The "Erin Brockovich" wins. The "Simba" in the movie Lion King, stories of getting past being duped by a mean relative. Innovative experiences like running a race jumping over 99 obstacles but not documenting the one that set you back. Like that time when my five year-old son first learned to tie his own shoes in the middle of the YMCA gym floor. That breakthrough, for example, deserved lunch at Taco Bell and a place in his safety file history. Or the time when my other son rescued a dog from the pound.

Effectiveness of coping depends on coping method, the stress or stressors involved, and one’s view of self. Self-efficacy (what one believes one can or can't do) can be thought of as the framework for these puzzles of effective coping. Social support can be helpful. Moral support can be uplifting. Most of the Bible is about people overcoming their own but universal strains. Performance coping, if we ever get that far, would probably be a healthy combination of all.

In this ever increasing "anxious age," children feel the stress. Some stress can lead to improvement motivating, but too much can be debilitating. Sometimes, it's important to think of the small places before laying out big pushes or pulls. Unfathomable outcomes may result. Sometimes, it's just important to think about the little things in life first.


Wayman, S. (2014, May 20). Age of anxiety: Children feel the strain. Retrieved August 9, 2019, from family/parenting/age-of-anxiety-children-feel-the-strain-1.1801499

Voyles, E., Ph.D. (2019). An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology[Scholarly project]. In Blackboard SIU-E. Retrieved August 9, 2019, from listContent.jsp?course_id=_47592_1&content_id=__1649273_1

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