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Stress Management: What can you do?

Stress management Overview:

The process of stress management is one of the keys to a happy and successful life in modern society. The treadmill of pressures of existing and performing in contemporary society is quick to dislodge the inner peace necessary for optimum physical and mental health and the ability to be at our highest level of productivity and happiness. In her book, The Art of Effortless Living, Bacci (2000) concluded that the most intense period of learning in a child's life is between the ages of birth and approximately eight years old. It is during that period of time in which Alpha waves predominate in the child's brain. Alpha waves have been related to periods of deep meditation and inner quietness. She stated that: "It's in that quietness that we can be fully aware and present. Inner quietness is synonymous with the mind functioning at a higher level .Yet as adults we sacrifice awareness and presence in the name of performance, and then we fail to perform at our best because we lack focus. It is time to recognize that our effortful, anxious, performance-based approach to life systematically undermines our potential". Techniques for stress management have been developed to quiet the inner storm.


Stress Management and Anxiety:

In order to function at an optimal level, stress management must reduce or control emotional distress and the consequent physical symptoms that sometimes occur from prolonged feelings of being overwhelmed or "stressed out". The uncomfortable feelings which we associate with stress may eventually lead to chronic forms of anxiety, or anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, phobias and panic attacks. Also, chronic stress may cause depression in addition to the more easily recognized feelings associated with stress.

Medical science is continuing to recognize the importance of stress management in the management or control of physical illness. As early as 1939, a world leader in psychosomatic medicine, Franz Alexander was considering that : "mental stress somehow interacted with the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulated the entire endocrine system via the pituitary and thyroid". This "limbic-hypothalmic system" has been hypothesized by modern researchers to modulate the biological activity of the autonomic, endocrine, and immune systems in response to thoughts, feelings and expectations.

In order to alleviate the conscious distress that many feel in relation to stressful circumstances and lives, mental health clinicians have developed stress management programs  which incorporate exercise, breathing skills, relaxation, and good nutritional habits into an individualís daily life, as well as paying attention to self-talk, beliefs, feelings, assertiveness and self-esteem. Although the responses to distress are varied and the approaches are numerous to dealing with it, what has been found to work for one person may not work for others. Therefore it may be necessary to find a number strategies for handling stress. The first step is to consider aspects of your lifestyle which may need to be altered. Environmental concerns may include :

  • Attempting to do to much at one time.
  • Setting unrealistic time estimates, or poor time management.
  • Procrastinating on the unpleasant.
  • Disorganization.
  • Poor listening skills.
  • Doing it all yourself.
  • Unable to say "no".
  • Trouble letting other people do their job.
  • Impulsive decision making.
  • Blaming others and not taking responsibility for the quality of your own life.

Stress Management Help and Assistance:

Environmental changes are the first step in effective stress management. Relaxation training and specific psychotherapy is also available to assist with your personal stress management goals.

By  Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

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