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