Are You Ready to SHAPE Your Stress?
A 5-Step Framework for Stress Management
Stress is the “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” that occurs “when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual can mobilize.” This phenomenon is a normal part of life yet stress management is not regularly included in academic curriculums or parenting handbooks. But it should be as stress management is essential to engaging wellness practices and maintaining mental and physical health.
Each type of stress triggers a biological reaction that involves the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands– resulting in the overproduction of stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline in the body — that can deteriorate health with frequent or prolonged activation. The short-term stress, acute stress, resolves relatively quickly after an immediate catalyst such as a loud noise. Episodic stress lasts slightly longer as it coincides with the duration of its sustained trigger such as taking an exam or giving a presentation. The third type of stress — eustress — is the euphoric or “happy stress” experienced around a positive gain like a new baby or marriage. And lastly, chronic stress is the most prolonged as it centers around long-term instances such as caregiving, pandemic, or chronic illness, that negatively impact health.
We are all subject to stress-induced by both internal or external stressors. External stressors such as clutter, one’s work environment, the COVID-19 pandemic, and engagement with inconsiderate individuals are beyond an individual’s control. However, individuals retain some control of their reaction(s) to these impediments. Internal stressors on the other hand — thoughts, beliefs, life choices — are generated intrinsically and therefore individuals retain full control of their relationship to them. Both external and internal stressors can be mitigated when individuals have and implement a growth mindset. This mindset allows individuals to set intentions for transformation, gain clarity on their life purpose, and engage in wellness practices that will optimize their health.
SHAPE is a stress management framework that provides a systematic process for caregivers –formal and informal — to identify stressors and adopt sustainable stress management solutions. The SHAPE framework actualizes:
Story. An individual begins by identifying and crafting their own story around identifiable stressors while examining their impacts on various dimensions of wellness — physical, social, mental, occupational, intellectual, and spiritual. This stage of the framework helps individuals to put their current obstacles into perspective.
Hone. Secondly, individuals focus on creating life goals as they envision an ideal life with their current stressors eliminated or alleviated. Here one is empowered to visualize her or himself to show up in the world as he/she wants to be seen.
Assess. Individuals introspectively survey ‘what is in & what do they need to add to their toolbelt?’ as they reflect upon past experiences and the abilities that have successfully moved them beyond stressful situations. This stage empowers individuals to explore the domains of resilience including vision, composure, reasoning, health, tenacity, and collaboration.
Plan. As individuals develop a SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed — plan, they began to identify the tools necessary for bridging the gap between their present (story) and ideal lives (hone). Here individuals craft their blueprint for stress management transformation.
Execution. Individuals will choreograph their next steps for implementing their SMART plan while beginning stress management practices that provide transformation, clarity, and optimal health and wellness. In this final stage, individuals operationalize the plan to be their best, do their best, and give their best.
The SHAPE framework is a straightforward approach to reclaiming a healthy balance for caregivers who can regularly become burdened by stressors they simply cannot ignore. Effectively accessible in organizational workshops or via individual or group coaching, the SHAPE framework empowers participants to shape their personalized stress blueprint that will transform their lives.
 American Institute of Stress (2020). https://www.stress.org/#:~:text=Probably%20the%20most%20common%20is,individual%20is%20able%20to%20mobilize.%E2%80%9D Accessed on February 20, 2021
 The SHAPE framework was introduced into group and individual stress management coaching by SHAPE Partners (CT) in 2020. SHAPE Partners is led by founder Wendy Gavin Mayo, APRN who is a dedicated Stress Solution Strategist with over 20 years in healthcare administration and practice.
Pieter J. Rossouw & Jurie G. Rossouw (2016). The Predictive 6-Factor Resilience Scale: Neurobiological Fundamentals and Organizational Application. 4 (1), 31–45. https://www.thescienceofpsychotherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/IJNPT_Vol4_issue1p31-45.pdf Accessed on February 20, 2021
 Truex, L. (2019). Leadership SMART Goals Examples: Tips to Setting and Examples of Leadership Goals. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/leadership-smart-goals-examples-4685981 Accessed on February 20, 2021
Wendy Garvin Mayo is an Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Certified Life Coach and Stress Solution Strategist with over 20 years in the healthcare industry. Wendy is the Founder and CEO of SHAPE Partners and The Stress Blueprint . She is also the creator of Nurse Wellness Mentorship and the SHAPE framework for Stress Management. She is currently the President of the Central Connecticut Oncology Nursing Society, sits on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut League of Nursing, and an advisor for a Nursing employee resource group for a fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. Wendy has authored several articles on and has appeared on various virtual platforms to present on stress management. Wendy is available for webinars, workshops, and speaking engagements.