We all experience stress. Read the statements below:
- I do not have enough time to do what I need to do.
- Day in and day out I feel pressured and hassled.
- At the end of the day I feel totally exhausted and all I want to do is to go to bed after dinner.
- I don’t know my spouse and children anymore.
- Often I wonder if it’s all worth it.
- I don’t know how to lead a happy and productive life anymore.
What is Stress?
Stress is the pressure to perform when we are faced with something that:
- we perceive to be beyond our capacity or;
- challenges our integrity as a person.
You can create your own stress by the way you perceive the circumstances in your life. Stress is not an automatic reaction. We make two appraisals that influence our level of stress in a particular situation. The appraisal involves the value we attach to the challenge we face and the perceived threat to that value.
For example, a professional who values his/her job, compared to one who does not, would be stressed if there was a real or perceived threat to the job that he/she values.
Strategies for Dealing with Stress
Stress is becoming a normal part of our lives. The following stress management techniques have been found helpful in effectively coping with stress.
- Autogenic training: The practice of autogenic training involves the repetition of affirmative verbalizations that inducerelaxation. Autogenic means self generation and refers to the manner in which our mind influences our bodily functions through self regulative systems. Some autogenic phrases are: My heart beat is calm and regular; my forehead is cool and calm.
- Progressive relaxation: Since muscle tension accompanies anxiety, relaxing the muscles will reduce anxiety. Progressive relaxation focuses on the difference between the feeling of tension and relaxation. This technique involves alternatively tensing (10 seconds) and relaxing muscles (20 seconds) in different parts of the body. Start from your toes and work to the crown of your head. For example, to relax your hands make a tight fist in both of your hands until you can’t tighten any more, concentrate on the tension you feel. Let go and let your hand relax. Focus on the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
- Guided imagery:Imagination is the most powerful tool individuals have to reduce stress. This techniqueenables you to use your imagination to transport yourself to a place and/or time where you felt relaxed. For example, transport yourself to a pristine beach in Florida and imagine yourself on the sands of a brilliant blue ocean under a clear blue sky…
- Self-hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of intense mental inner awareness even though the body goes into deep state of relaxation. In this state, the mind becomes alert and receptive to thoughts and ideas you or someone you trust presents to you. Self-hypnosis enables an individual to enter a deeper level of relaxation with a lasting impact. Self-hypnosis can be practiced with a learned routine or by listening to recordings made by a person you trust. Commercial recordings are acceptable, if they are made by reputable professionals who specialize in helping clients practice self-hypnosis.
- Meditation: Meditation enables the mind to restore to normal functioning. Our minds work 24/7, as indicated by frenzied daytime activities and dream work at night, this results in mental fatigue. Meditation is best learned under the guidance of a trained professional. However, meditation recordings are available to supplement your training, particularly if the recordings are made by your teacher and/or the ones trusted by the teacher.
Stress is a part of our lives. In order to manage our stress we must keep stress levels within functional limits by practicing one of the relaxation techniques discussed above. For the best results practice, your chosen technique twice daily, mornings and evenings. You should also set aside some time for self-re-generation at bedtime through reflection and contemplation.