Updated: Apr 11
The Kopely Stress Management Worksheet is our introduction to stress and one of our
favorite stress relief exercises, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). In this worksheet you
will learn what stress is, why we have stress and how to incorporate PMR into your daily life
so you can better manage stress.
What is stress? Why do we stress? And is stress a good thing or a bad thing?
Kopely’s definition of stress is the mental, physical and/or emotional response to new (and
oftentimes difficult) events that exceed a person's mental ability or bandwidth. A person's
definition or perception of difficult and the capacity of their mental bandwidth (ability to
handle new information and stressors) will vary based on the individual. Some examples that
most greatly affect an individual's sensitivity to stress and bandwidth are things like, your
genetics, how you grew up, your mental outlook (optimist vs. pessimist), overall sense of
well-being and coping skills. Individuals who had a rough childhood, think like a pessimist,
rank low on resiliency and have no effective coping skills may view more things and events
as stressful and may have a hard time managing or bouncing back from these events.
A mental and physical response of “Oh Sh#t” to an event is what we call stress.
Stress can be a good thing or a bad thing. Humans have evolved with stress responses (we
will dive deeper into this subject in part 2) so that we can deal with life threatening situations
quickly, like getting us to run away from a saber tooth tiger without much thought. Stress is
primal and unfortunately as our stone age ancestors evolved into our modern selves our
stone aged stress responses have remained. If stress motivates you at work to finish your
deadline on time that's a great feature of stress. However, if your debt, inundation of how
many likes you get on your latest instagram post and/or you just got fired from your job and
you spiral into depression for 3 months, this is a poor feature of stress that will negatively
affect your own well-being, health and relationships with others. Chronic stress is really bad
for people's physical, mental and emotional well-being!
An introduction to coping
a. Explanation of acute stress response
b. Fight or flight
c. The Relaxation Response
Harvard explains the cascade of hormones that force us into action with our intuitive stone
aged “fight or flight” system. The fight or flight system has evolved as humans short-cut,
reflexive survival mechanism. This survival mechanism allowed us to perceive and react to
threats without our conscious brain knowing. Where this ancient process goes wrong is when
our bodies react to non-threatening events like life-threatening events. Example, think about
how you responded to that Honda Civic that cut you off for no good reason, or when your
work presentation deadline just got cut by 3 days.
Before we go into the coping strategies to better manage our day-to-day stress we think it is
important to better understand how our brains actually interpret stress. Okay, here we go in
a not too scientifically way.
The eyes and ears both send “danger” signals to the brains emotional processor, the
amygdala. The amygdala processes and interprets the danger. If the amygdala identifies that
the signal is a threat, it then sends a distress signal to the “command center” the
hypothalamus. The hypothalamus helps control the rest of the body and can get you
physically moving via the autonomic nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system has two parts:
a) sympathetic nervous system and b) parasympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system acts as a stress gas pedal. This gas pedals launches our
bodies into “fight or flight” when our brain perceives stress. On the other hand, the
parasympathetic nervous system acts like an emergency brake. It helps relax the body and
restore it back to normal after the danger has passed.
Once the gas pedal has been hit, the floodgates of adrenaline open and a chain reaction of
physiological changes begin- heart rate and blood pressure increases, sweat response, rapid
Where are we going with all of this? Well… if we can help you learn how to control your
individual “fight or flight” response to stress you would spend less time in stress! And, if we
can help shift your perception so that you no longer perceive small events like when a car
cuts you off in traffic as a stressor, you will start increasing your capacity for stress (and
increasing your mental bandwidth). Our hypothesis is pretty simple: we believe if you want
to live a better life (less stress, more well-being) you have to free up enough mental
bandwidth so you have enough capacity to shift your perspective to achieve more
We need to make your brain more durable for stress and a better identifier of the differences
traumatic stressors vs acute stressors.
Reducing Stress with Relaxation Techniques
The management of stress is called coping. Now we will start diving into ways you can
master your own relaxation techniques so that you may better cope with your own
day-to-day stress. In this stress management worksheet we are going to cover one of our
favorite relaxation techniques called progressive muscle relaxation or PMR.
And, if you want to be one of Kopely's first users for our Stress Relief App, sign-up here. Launch date- TBA!