Stress Management Techniques

stress management techniques,techniques for stress management,how to change your life, Many of us are in need of effective stress management techniques. We are living in tough times and daily life can be stressful.

Let's not get bogged down with semantics about what constitutes "good" stress and "bad" stress - you know and I know what type of stress we are talking about it here: the stress caused by problems at work; a difficult boss (or difficult staff); financial problems; unemployment - or the possibility of it; relationship problems, or perhaps health problems.

The stress caused by imposed change

In the present climate a lot of stress is caused by change that we do not choose and that is imposed upon us. This is often related to organisational change.

The stress caused by anticipated change

A further dimension to this is the stress generated by the anticipation of imposed change and the general uncertainty that this creates.

Trying to push away our emotional distress can throw us into “cognitive shock” that turns our mind into a muddle.

Here are 5 simple questions to help you cut through the confusion.

The focus of our stress reactions

In my own experience of some extremely stressful financial and business situations I have found that:

    (1) Stress related thoughts are largely about how to cope with what HAS happened and how to deal with what MIGHT happen as a consequence of what has happened.

    (2) Stress related emotions are your reactions to what has happened or what might happen, and these emotions are predominantly fear, anxiety, anger, frustration and feelings of helplessness and being out of control.

    (3) These anxious thoughts and defensive emotions arise automatically but if you just sit with them and observe them, without engaging with them for about 24 hours, they will pass.

    (4) Notice that your thoughts and emotional reactions are focused on the past and the future and not on the present moment.

    This really is the pointer to one of the most powerful stress management techniques, and that is learning how to develop and maintain a present moment awareness.

The duration of the situation that is causing us stress

I have also found that stress management techniques need to address two further aspects of this, namely techniques for stress management that address a situation that lasts for a relatively short-term duration (say a few weeks or months), and the stress management techniques that address situations that drag on for many months or years.

The effect of the "attrition factor"

Just as an aside, I have a personal view that most of us can handle the stress generated by a short-term situation but we really struggle - often seriously struggle - with the stress that is inherent in long term and seemingly intractable problems.

This is what I call the "attrition factor" - where we just get ground down by it all - our energies get depleted - we get plain worn out by it all.

We can see no end to our situation; we have little or no control over what is happening to us and, we get overwhelmed by the apparent hopelessness of it all.

The best stress management techniques

I am not going to dwell on some of the obvious things such as exercising regularly, eating properly, not drinking too much alcohol, maintaining disciplined sleeping patterns and generally maintaining a balanced and moderate outlook on life.

The main focus of this site is how TO think and how to NOT think.

(1) Dealing with the impact of short-term immediate stress caused by unexpected and/or imposed change

In Self Motivation Tips - How To Motivate Yourself In Tough Times we have looked closely at how to deal with the heavy duty tough times often involving imposed change that have large and perhaps dramatic impacts on your life.

In this article I have outlined a series of steps that I have used, about how to control your thoughts and your responses, and that I recommend to you, they are called "Self motivation tips when facing tough times" but they are equally applicable as stress management techniques.

(2) Dealing with long-term stress

The most direct way of equipping your mind to deal with stress is by developing and regularly practising mindfulness.

The practise of mindfulness is a powerful life skill, as is one of most effective remedies for reducing stress.

There is nothing esoteric about the practise of mindfulness, you do not need to join anything, or subscribe to any particular set of beliefs.

You have already had many such experiences in the course of very normal, "everyday" type experiences where you are unaffected by your thoughts and are totally present. For example when walking in nature, or when totally engrossed in some activity with a total present moment focus.

These are naturally occurring states of mindfulness or present moment awareness.

    # Being free of your thoughts, free of the incessant chatter in your head, free of the endless grinding of the wheels of repetitious thoughts is an excellent way of reducing your stress.

    # Mindfulness is simply a series of structured mental disciplines and habits that take your natural and spontaneous occurrences of present moment awareness and brings it under your conscious control.

    # Mindfulness enables you to stop thinking and step out of the tyranny and treadmill of your thoughts and emotional reactions, and it also shows how to think more resourcefully.

I have shared some very specific experiences of how I have used this in this article: "My experience of mindfulness in situations of imposed change"

Cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness meditation

I recommend this video to you as a remarkable insight into the neurology of mindfulness meditation - or put more simply, the science for why mindfulness practise is so effective as a practical and effective stress management technique.

Further resources

Meditation techniques

Brainwave entrainment

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness based stress reduction

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy

Supporting articles

Hardware reasons why we think the way we do

Mindfulness is a spontaneous state

Stuck in seeking

Some expert advice on developing awareness

Freeing yourself from your mind

My experience of mindfulness in situations of imposed change

Useful tips on how to practise mindfulness

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