Stress Management

MountainTopCycle.jpgSomeone once said that life is a series of unexpected events in which we are not quite prepared. The resulting stress can be caused by past, present, or future encounter(s) that we perceive as a threat or challenge. These stressors may be either perceived external conflicts or internal struggles.

Stress management can be viewed as a lifestyle conducive to effective handling of anxiety. We all incorporate certain strategies in order to deal with everyday encounters, concerns, and challenges. We learn to deal with stress in different ways throughout life. Many of us tend to deal with stress in the same ways we did when we were younger. What may have been the best way to deal with such events at an earlier stage may now be inappropriate, ineffective, or inefficient. Being creatures of habit, we must reevaluate our behaviors and take some effort to become more effective in dealing with our stress. For some, this proposal may be very stressful in itself. We tend to embrace those things that are most familiar to us. Those old habits are comforting in many regards. It may be some time before the product of our old ways creates more anxiety than the idea of change in itself. It may be at this point that new behaviors are considered and ideally adapted. For some, this lifestyle change may take years to finally implement into one's daily routine. Unfortunately, for many others, these changes rarely transpire. Often, we lack sufficient self-efficacy and don't feel confident enough to manage such lifestyle changes. Often, we fail to even recognize a particular lifestyle change are more effective in managing certain stresses. This is particularly true if the derived benefit(s) are long term or uncertain; as with the case with many wellness practices.

Our thoughts, emotions, behaviors (conscience and sub-conscience), and environment, interact and affect our decision to make positive lifestyle changes. To manage our emotions, as in stress management, we attempt to manage our environment and the content of our thoughts. Stress management techniques may incorporate time management, assertiveness, rational problem solving, as well as various self-regulation practices. Stress management is only one component to one's wellness lifestyle. Other components of the wellness lifestyle may include healthy social relations, sound dietary practices, exercise, safety precautions, vacation, leisure, spiritual matters, social interaction and support, as well as other elements that contribute to the total self.

We manage our environment by engaging in activities, interacting with people, and changing the world in which we live. We manage our thoughts and attitude by making sense of ourselves, our world, and the interaction between ourselves and our world. Apart from our biological tendencies, our stress response is largely learned. However, we can prepare and retrain ourselves to manage our reaction to stressful events.

Self-regulation techniques can be introduced by using various forms of biofeedback training. Physiological reactions to stress may include: peripheral vascular constriction, tachycardia, hypertension, etc. Biofeedback training may involve monitoring these reactions and self regulating via digital temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, EEG activity, galvanic skin response, respiration frequency & quota, temporal, and other EMG activity. Some self-regulation methods include, progressive relaxation, autogenic phrases, and guided imagery. Longer sessions may be used to train the individual to relax more effectively and more efficiently. Quicki-minis are ideally suited to be used throughout the day, when stress is more of a reality. Some quicki-minis include: tense-release, breathing techniques, shoulder roles, and various stretches.

Regular exercise is also a very effective in managing daily stress and anxiety. Periodic work breaks incorporating physical activity can assist in managing work related stress, particularly with more sedentary type occupations. A healthy diet supplying adequate nutrients while maintaining blood sugar blood sugar levels throughout the day may also facilitate a more healthy response to stress.

Multiple techniques can be used to help manage stress. Like any lifestyle change, incorporating the most effective stress management techniques into your daily routine may require time and perseverance. Once implemented, these techniques can assist in dealing with whatever life brings your way.

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