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What is Stress Management?

By: Rod Becker

woman at a desk stressed out with crumbled papersStress management refers to various psychotherapies and techniques aimed to control  one’s levels of stress, usually with the purpose to improve everyday functioning.

Therefore, the word “stress” refers to  bad types of stress with negative consequences, also called distress, rather than a good type of stress that has positive or helpful consequences.

Stress management involves reducing and controlling the tension that usually occurs in stressful situations, by making physical and emotional changes. How much change takes place will be determined by the desire to make a change and the degree of stress.

 About Stress

Stress is described as the response one has when facing different circumstances which force him/her to adjust, change or act in some way in order to keep things balanced or be grounded in the reality of the situation.

The stress response may trigger involuntary changes in one’s body, giving an extra energy burst to help him/her run away or fight the perceived threats. This used to be very helpful in the past, when most of the stress was physical. But nowadays, when more and more stress has psychological causes, this response is not really necessary or helpful.

Stress can also be chronic. That happens when someone often faces stressful situations in which he/she has little control. Chronic stress can affect someone’s health  seriously, because it can lower and cause suppression of the immune system. Therefore it can be a factor that causes or contributes to all major illnesses.

Stress Factors

Stress is generally related to both internal and external factors. External factors include your job, physical environment, home, relationships with others, all the challenges, situations, expectations and difficulties you confront with every day. Internal factors determine a person’s and their body’s ability to respond and deal with external factors that induce stress. This includes emotional well being, nutritional status, the amount of rest or sleep you get, overall health and fitness levels, and the stress control ability you have through relaxation or other techniques and strategies.

Therefore managing stress may involve learning how to change some external factors you are confronting with or work with the internal factors to strengthen your ability to face whatever comes your way. There are many programs available today to help you cope with stress.

 Stress Management Techniques

Regardless of the origin of stress you have, there are some basic steps to help you manage it:

- Quick Stress Relief – stress relievers are a great way to start the process, because they help you calm down and see the situation from a relaxed place. It also helps you deal more effectively with stress, and keeps you healthy meanwhile. Common strategies include use of humor or breathing exercises.

- Address the Situation – once you’ve managed to calm down, you can try to identify the type of stress in your life, in order to know how to deal with it.

- Long-Term Stress Management – you need to include some regular activities that replenish you, helping you to better face the daily life stress. A habit that includes some simple stress-relieving activities may be the key to less reaction to stressors, making you able to handle stress when you face it.

Some effective techniques that might help you cope with stress are:

- Exercise – it helps managing tension and emotional stress, may help with relaxation and to improve your sleep. Exercise has the power to remove you from a stressful situation or environment even if just temporarily. Being healthy and fit could also include an increased ability to deal with stress.

- Meditation and relaxation techniques – there are various ways to use relaxation techniques in order to improve you physically and mentally and help control stress. There are some techniques that you can do on your own, and other that are better learned in a class. Here are some examples: autogenic training, biofeedback, imagery, meditation techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, social activity, conflict resolution, cognitive therapy, prayer, artistic expressions, stress balls, progressive relaxation, somatic training, or listening to different types of music.

Other stress management strategies are time management, organizational skills and support systems.

Programs

Some stress management programs might be structured in this way:

- Introduction and individual needs assessment – talking about how stress affects you and people around you

- Stress management overview – stress causes, positive and negative stress

- Relaxation techniques and training

- Managing healthy stress levels: preventing, reducing and adapting strategies

- Maintaining a happy, healthy lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, time management, social, productive, assertiveness, positive goal setting.

Why is Stress Management so Important?

Stress can have many negative impacts on your life and body, therefore it is best to learn about stress management and live a happy and healthy life. As the old saying goes, “stress kills.” More recent research finds this to be actually true. We would have a much healthier nation if we could encourage people and them how to manage stress in their lives. If you are interested in taking some stress management courses, access additional information on this blog.

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