Stress Center

Stress management techniques

Stress treatment
If you are experiencing chronic stress, the best way to deal with it is to take care of the underlying problem.  When disease is present as a result of stress, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Specific treatment may be required for these health conditions.  However, when you learn to manage your stress by choosing new reactions to situations, you can finally experience peace of mind and perhaps even live a longer, healthier life. Counseling can help you find ways to relax and calm down. Medicines may also help. 

Treating episodic acute stress or chronic stress may require intervention on a number of different levels, generally requiring professional help, which may take many months to complete.  Do not expect life to change overnight.   Stress builds up over time, and you must un-learn behaviors over time as well.  The most commonly recommended forms of stress management strategies may include any combination of the following.

Exercise is a great way to improve mood and cab change the body's stress response. Get regular aerobic exercise - even a brisk walk can reduce levels of stress hormones in your blood.  Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day (or two 15-minute sessions) most days of the week is best, but even three times a week offers benefits.  Go slowly when starting an exercise routine.  A few minutes a day are better than no minutes-you can gradually increase how much you exercise every day. You don't need to go jogging, either.  Walking has significant health benefits.  In general, exercise helps you get in better shape, which can also make you feel better overall.

Treatment for stress can also involve taking time to reflect about your choices, your social and family life, work, study and even financial conditions. A stressed-out person should rethink their life, mostly by identifying the sources of stress and make efforts to resolve them.   Simple changes such as more exercise, improving nutrient status, making more free time, or changes in life habits may be enough to manage your stress.  Here are some other tips:

  • Avoid stimulants
  • Believe that you will succeed if you keep working toward your goals
  • Don't worry about things you can't control (the weather)
  • Don't over schedule or over commit
  • Eat well-balanced meals
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Foster healthy friendships
  • Participate in sports, social events or hobbies
  • Prepare for events you know may be stressful
  • Resolve conflicts with other people
  • Set realistic goals at home and at work
  • Take action to solve problems
  • View change as a positive challenge that is normal, not as a threat
  • View setbacks and problems as temporary and solvable

Professional counseling or psychotherapy based in cognitive-behavioral therapy is one proven way to reduce stress.  Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can help you replace undesirable responses and behavior patterns for desirable ones. It is very important that you learn cognitive-behavioral coping skills from a professional. Skills taught during CBT include:

1.       Identifying sources of stress

2.       Restructuring priorities

3.       Identifying ways to balance stress inducers that can't be eliminated

4.       Identifying stress-reducing activities in your day

5.       Adjusting your responses to stress

Relaxation techniques
The body's natural antidote to stress is called the "relaxation response".  The relaxation response is your body's way to create a sense of well-being and calm. You can help trigger the relaxation response by learning simple breathing exercises and then using them when you're caught up in stressful situations.  Be sure that you stay relaxed by building time into your schedule for activities that are calming and pleasurable: read a good book or make time for a hobby, spend time with your pet, or just take a relaxing bath.  Some common relaxation techniques include:

  • Deep and slow breathing
  • Electromyographic Biofeedback (EMG)
  • Meditation
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Passive stretches
  • Visualization
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