Stress Management

Dealing with stress

What is stress management?

At its simplest, stress management is the term that is used to cover a wide range of different techniques that will help you to lower the feelings of stress you experience in daily life. Although some aspects of stress management are there to help with high levels of peak tension, known as acute stress, some are more focused on long-term feelings of strain, known as chronic stress. Either way, the idea is to lower the levels of things like cortisol, a hormone that is known to be related to feelings of anxiety and stress. When we learn techniques that will help to lower stress and deploy them properly, this is when stress can go from being something out of our control to a manageable phenomenon. In this regard, stress management is not dissimilar to anger management.

Why are stress management techniques good to learn? 

As mentioned, there are numerous techniques that you can try to manage your stress effectively. Different people respond differently to the various methods on offer, so no single one can be considered better than others. Try things like meditation, deep breathing and reading something relaxing to lower the impact of stress hormones on your brain. Professional help can also be sought for stress management in the form of cognitive therapy, conflict resolution and certain types of psychotherapy. In many cases, getting out in nature, pampering yourself with some 'me time' and even listening to music has been shown to have a demonstrable effect in successfully managing stress.

What stress management models are there?

Numerous theoretical models exist. One of the main ones is the so-called transactional model, first developed in the 1980s. This explains stress as an internal conflict when resources cannot meet demands or when coping strategies have failed. Alternatively, in the health model of stress management, stress can be seen as innate and something that does not occur because of outward conflicts. In this model, disengagement with negative thought processes is commonly proposed.

Can mindfulness be effective with stress management?

Yes, mindfulness is one of the main ways that a wide range of professionals now advise people can lower their feelings of stress. Not only does it work well within in the health model but it can also be applied equally as well in the transactional model since it helps people to release themselves from their conflicts for a time, such as worrying about work pressures, for example.

What stress management programmes are available in the workplace?

Not all employers are as engaged with stress management as they might be. This is not universal, however. In the aviation industry, for example, there have been big strides in the management of stress in recent years, largely because the sector is known to have a high burnout rate among employees and because the potential for catastrophic failure is higher when people feel stressed. Stress management programmes tend to teach people how to be more objective with their approach to understanding their own stress.

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In psychotherapy, anger management is a means of helping people to recognise the warning signs of anger and to find ways of preventing them from developing any further. At its simplest, an example might be counting slowly to ten when we begin to become frustrated with a situation so that we don't lash out unnecessarily quickly. However, such homespun ideas have been developed by therapists into much more tailored programmes designed to help people who become angry. Essentially, contemporary anger management therapy boils down to helping people to identify why they may feel powerless, frustrated or thwarted and to take action regarding the root cause rather than simply giving in to feelings of anger. As such, it tends to be tailored to the individual or group receiving the therapy.
A talking therapy that is sometimes referred to as an intervention, cognitive behavioural therapy is based on several psycho-social theories. Sometimes referred to as CBT for short, cognitive behavioural therapy aims to challenge people in their thoughts, especially ones that have become cognitively distorted in some way, either through habit, belief systems or erroneous attitudes. By talking about such thoughts and challenging them in a secure environment, therapists try to alter the way patients think which can often include attitudes to themselves. Cognitive behavioural therapy was first developed to help people suffering from chronic depression. Still, it has since been adapted to treat people with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and even psychosis and bipolar disorder.
Meditation refers to a variety of mental exercises which have their origin in ancient times and became increasingly popular in the western world over the last decades. While meditating, we practice different kinds of focus to achieve a more mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Meditative practices were developed as part of the path towards enlightenment, self-realisation and the end of suffering. There are various types of meditation, such as focused attention, or mindfulness meditation, which is the most widely studied form of meditation in modern science. Metta or loving-kindness meditation is another example of focused attention. Other forms of meditation are the chanting of mantras or transcendental meditation.
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