Stress Management & Coping with Stress
Stress can be a killer – but it doesn’t have to be.
Most of the time, stress and stress symptoms respond particularly well to various forms of management, including self help – later on this page, there are two effective self help stress management routines that may well be all you need. There is also a download that can help you to make immense changes to your stress levels.
If you decide to take the route of visiting a stress management consultant, it is likely that relief will be felt almost immediately, often after only one session. It is true to say that the sooner you take steps to deal with it, the more rapid and more positive will be the result.
Stress has many symptoms, the most common being:
Tendency to sudden anger
Lack of interest in sex
Shortness of breath (air hunger)
Dry mouth; diarrhoea
Stress tends to fall into one of two types: Reactive or Situational. Good stress management or stress therapy can alleviate or at least considerably reduce the symptoms.
The top ten causes of reactive stress are considered to be (in order):
Death of a spouse/partner
Death of a close family member
Personal injury or illness
Redundancy or otherwise losing employment
Situational stress tends to fall into one of 4 broad categories:
Relationships with others
Stress in the workplace
Self-perception and personal confidence
The causes of situational stress are varied but here are a few examples:
A sensation of being pulled in two or more directions at once, or of simply not knowing what course of action to take and therefore doing nothing at all.
Work load – not having enough time to do everything that is required and therefore working hastily and ineffectively.This is obviously one of the major causes of stress in the workplace.
Demands too great for the level of skill possessed or perceived to be possessed. Another prime cause of stress in the workplace.
Excessively high expectations of self. This is probably the worst, most common, and most tormenting form. This type is continuous and tends to affect every aspect of the sufferer’s life.
Guilt, usually unwarranted or out of proportion to the ‘crime’. It often gives rise to feelings of doom, mild paranoia, persecution and the like.
Any situation in which the individual feels uncomfortable but unable to make any sort of worthwhile change.
There are many others, of course, but these six are very common and it is fair to say that the vast majority of people suffering from any anxiety state will be doing so as a result of one or more of them. Number 4, in particular, has a great many side effects, intruding into relationships and even hobbies.
Stress Related Physical Conditions
It is a fact that most physical conditions are worsened by stressful situations, in particular the following:
Asthma. Although not always caused by stress, there is no doubt that stress will exacerbate the condition and can certainly trigger an attack. This one usually needs face-to-face therapy, though can respond to telephone work.
Excema. Stress will often cause Excema to ‘flare up’ though the effect is not usually immediate, sometimes taking several days for the effects to show. Face-to-face therapy is best, though, again, telephone work can sometimes be effective.
Psoriasis. Here, the situation is slightly different. This condition seems to worsen more as a result of underlying stress, rather than as a result of a stressful event. Face-to-face work is needed, as a rule.
Impotence. Many people disregard the role of stress in impotence, yet it is often the main cause for the problem when there are psychological factors involved. Coping with stress can make spectacular improvements here and this can be achieved via online stress therapy or telephone work, though personal consultation is recommended.
Vaginismus. This can almost be thought of as the female equivalent of psychological impotence. Although it can sometimes respond to telephone work, this is not the best form of therapy for the condition, therefore personal consultation is recommended.
Migraine. This does not always appear to be stress-related, quite often being a reaction to certain foods or drink. When it is stress-based, though, it tends to be sudden stressful events that cause the problem. It has to be face-to-face work with this one.
Alopecia. Sometimes has a physical cause but can occur as a result of trauma or prolonged severe stress. Can respond to E-therapy or telephone work, though face-to-face sessions may be necessary.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This stress-worsened condition almost always responds astoundingly well to face-to-face sessions, even when the problem itself is diet-based. Telephone work can be effective, too, if a little slower but Email therapy is not recommended here.
Stomach ulcers. ALways get tested for the presence of certain bacteria in the stomach before commencing any form of therapy – sometimes, all that is needed is a course of antibiotics. Where this is not the case, some underlying stress is usually the cause and telephone work or face-to-face sessions are effective. E-therapy can be less effective but is still better than no therapy.
Urticaria (hives). This takes several forms but always includes an intensely itchy rash. It responds well to various different creams but resolving underlying stress-related issues can ensure that the onset becomes increasingly rare, often eventually disappearing altogether.
All of the conditions listed can also have physical causes and it is imperative that a medical examination should be carried out before beginning any form of complementary therapy.
Learning how to cope with stress is vital when dealing with the above. Most stress-related physical conditions, even those not listed here, can be helped greatly by skilled therapy – and there are many therapists World-wide who are able to provide effective and safe assistance. Counselling is somewhat different from therapy, though, and may be less effective for physical conditions with a stress-related base, especially in the short term.
Self Help for Stress
Before using the routines shown here, it is a good idea to lay to one side any non-urgent problems that you know have to be dealt with later in the day. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT but remarkably easy, if you recognise a few points.
The problem is transient, as all problems are.
You could not change it any way even if you did keep it in your mind during this short time.
You will be able to deal with it more easily and efficiently afterwards as a result of the mental imagery work that you are about to do.
Many people find it an easy matter to visualise a box in which they place all their mental and emotional ‘rubbish’ to keep it safe for a short while so that they can use all their energies in the most efficient manner possible.
Stress Management Routine #1
Find a comfortable quiet place where you can close your eyes and relax, laying down if possible. Make sure that you won’t be interrupted – if necessary switch your telephone to ‘silent’ and turn off your mobile phone or pager. Now:
Take a s l o w deep breath and relax as you exhale, just letting every muscle in your face start to become expressionless
When you feel that your face is expressionless, let that same feeling flow into your body
Allow your breathing to become as slow and steady as if you were pretending to be sound asleep
When you feel ready to do so, see yourself vividly in your mind’s eye, as if you have actually left your body and are looking at yourself steadily relaxing more and more
Tell yourself you’re now handing over control to your subconscious mind so that it can get on with its maintenance of mind and body, just as it does while you sleep. It is rather like having workmen in to do a few small repairs while you go for a walk.
Now do nothing for as long as it takes….
You will find that after a period of between 20 and 45 minutes, your eyes will just open naturally of their own accord, signalling that the restoration work is complete. You should now recover yourself to full awareness, when you will feel invigorated and relaxed, with increased enthusiasm, concentration and alertness. But be tempted to close your eyes again and you could find the just the reverse, ending up headachy, and ‘muzzy’.
Stress Management Routine #2
This routine is more powerful and takes longer, because you will need to use the Preparation Routine (steps 1-3, above), followed by a Relaxation Routine. You will need to read it through several times and commit the basic idea of it to memory, especially the suggestions at the end. This might take a little while, but the results you will be able to achieve are often spectacular. It is actually a version of the routine that some professional stress management consultants use in theer offices.
So, after carrying out steps 1-3 from routine #1, your body will already be relaxed and you’re going to take it still further. To start, become aware of both arms and concentrate on letting every tiny thread of tension simply drain down and away from you. Keep working at this until your arms start to feel heavy or light – this is exactly what you are after. When you have succeeded with your arms, do the same thing with your legs, working at the thigh muscles first, then the shins and calves. (This can take a little while at first but it gets faster each time you practice it – don’t be tempted to rush, because you cannot hurry relaxation). Give yourself all the time you need until your whole body starts to feel either heavy or light – it varies from one person to another.
When you are ready, follow with this short routine which will actually produce a deep state of relaxation and well-being; remember to learn the routine off by heart – It doesn’t have to be word perfect, only needing to convey the same sort of idea.
Imagine, as vividly as you can, that you are at the top of a beautiful, warm, softly-lit staircase with ten steps to go down, all covered in a beautifully soft carpet in your favourite colour and design, with a wonderfully smooth hardwood handrail at the side. At the bottom of the stair case is a door, and behind the door is a room, your own special room, where nobody ever goes but you. In your mind, move slowly down the staircase, telling yourself that with each step you take you are more relaxed than on the stair above; feel the carpet beneath your feet and your hand gliding down the handrail as you move. Take plenty of time.
At the bottom of the staircase you find yourself in front of that door to you own special room; take time to study it for a moment, noticing the texture and pattern of the handle and tell yourself that this room is always here for you in your thoughts, that you can always find it just by going down that staircase of calmness and relaxation in your mind. Then you open the door and move easily inside the room. It’s comfortable and warm inside, softly lit, and furnished exactly as you want it to be to make it absolutely perfect. Make it truly vivid in your mind, using as many senses as you can, because this is a room where you can make wonderful things happen for yourself, just by imagining them. In the middle of the room is a comfortable chair, the most luxurious and comfortable chair you have ever seen and you move lazily over to it and flop yourself down, marvelling at the deep sense of tranquillity that sweeps over you as you become more relaxed than you can ever remember.
Now just empty your mind; you can do this easily in this super-relaxed state. Say the following positive suggestions to yourself several times each – in full and aloud if possible. The third one is rather lengthy, but learn it, because it is extremely powerful.
Things that can be changed will change, because I will change the things that I can change.
Things that cannot be changed will simply cease to concern me.
All the things that used to upset me will now just calm and relax me, and the more they could previously upset me, the more they will now simply calm and relax me.
When you have finished the suggestions – and your mind will tend to know when that is – then turn yourself over to the subconscious mind as in method (1), with the exception that you will need to take yourself out of the relaxed state when you are ready to leave it. Just decide to leave it – that’s all you have to do!
Self hypnosis can be remarkably effective for the reduction of stress and improvement in life generally. It is a specific skill and one which can easily be learned via one of the many books on the subject
Though some people are wary of hypnosis and self hypnosis until they discover more about it, it’s used on a daily basis by sportsmen and musicians, business people and artists, housewives, policemen, engineers, shop assistants… in fact it’s used by millions of people from all walks of life all over the globe!
Let’s dispel a few of the anxieties that some visitors might have… the following ‘rules’ are applicable to all types of hypnosis:
You cannot ‘get stuck’ – this is quite impossible
You do not become unconscious or go to sleep
You know what’s happening at all times
You can exit the state whenever you wish to
You cannot ‘lose your mind’
It is not connected in any shape or form with the occult
There is no such thing as a ‘hypnotised feeling’
It is actually a totally natural state which we all go into several times a day
It is very similar to meditation or relaxation techniques
IT IS COMPLETELY SAFE!
Getting into a state of self-hypnosis is a specific skill and as with all skills, some people are better at it than others. It is fair to say, though, that almost everybody can benefit from learning how to use it. Among other things, you can help yourself to:
Combat Stress – use it with the routines above for a real power session!
Improve sporting and other performance
Increase concentration and recall
Improve confidence and self-confidence
Work effectively with motivation issues