Managing Stress - Techniques to Help You Manage Stress
Stress is real and its results are real.
Were you aware that the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 75% to 90% of visits to the doctor are stress related?
You can find tips on managing stress almost everywhere these days. It's not suprising with terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the cost of fuel, the rising costs of everything else, the mortgage mess, and the financial meltdown which just occurred a few years back. However, maybe you weren't looking before and forgot what you heard, or just didn't care at the moment.
Well, if you are on THIS web page, it is probably because, whatever you have noticed, you are now interested in learning something about stress management, or perhaps even how to get out from under it completely!
Yoga, Tai Chi, Martial Arts and Other Eastern Methods to Manage Stress
It would appear that Asia has provided us with many techinques for managing stress. We find that yoga, Tai-Chi, and other martial arts forms, and similar disciplines from Asia have been found effective for centuries in helping to relieve stress. The physical techniques are commonly advertised as stress busters. They generally work to loosen up the muscles and help focus the mind, leading to a release of physical stress, and an movement towards more relaxing thoughts. This combination of exercise and concentration have actually been proven to be a potent team when it comes to defeating stress, particularly when practiced together.
We don't have to look only to the East, however, as even our traditional and modern forms of western exercise can do a fine job for us, even without the meditation aspect which is often found in the oriental forms of exercise and martial arts disciplines.
Manage Stress With Meditation
Let's talk about another particularly good stress buster for a moment.
Meditation has been practiced in Asia and elsewhere, in many forms, for many centuries. Despite what you may think, if you have not tried it, it is an easy discipline to learn and has multiple benefits. Setting aside just a few minutes per day (15-20 minutes is preferable) can go a long way toward relieving stress symptoms.
When done regularly, meditation can do more than relieve just the immediate symptoms of stress. It can, over a short period of time, actually shift the mind and body to new levels of living...levels where stress is effectively managed or avoided altogether. The focus on any one thing, such as is found in most meditation techniques, helps move the mind away from the stressor...and the problem of trying to focus on many things.
There is also measureable evidence that, when meditation is practiced properly, it can have numerous beneficial physical effects as well.
Also, becoming proficient in almost any form of meditation can allow an individual to relieve both immediate and cumulative stress throughout the day.
Deep Breathing to Manage Stress
Many find that deep breathing exercises can be a terrific first step toward getting their stress symptoms under control. For many, it seems that lessening the symptoms of stress, rather than immediately removing the cause of the stress, is often a good first step toward curing the longer term problem. You might want to give this a try: lie face down on the floor on a large towel, elbows bent with your hands flat on the floor. The backs of your hands should be under your chest. Now breath deeply, three or four times. This position is similar to the Cobra, a well known yoga pose, by the way.
Dietary Supplements to Manage Stress
Dietary supplements can be helpful for some people. The difficulty is that there are so many, and so many that are useless, that recommending specific ones is prone to error. For example, for some time, people tried to reduce stress with supplements containing "kava" untilevidence began surfacing about possible liver damage and unwanted drowsiness from this ingredient. One supplement which many find beneficial, which is also free of kava, is the Stress Complex offered by Shaklee. Also, anything which helps elevate serotonin levels is likely to help. However, the old warning applies to these products "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.", so beware those products that promise miracle cures.
Prescription Drugs to Manage Stress
If you go to your doctor with stress symptoms, he or she may prescribe some mild drugs, such as some form of sleep aid, which can be useful on occasion. The risk of this, as with many drugs, is becoming dependent on them to control the symptoms without actually getting at the cause of the stress.
However, as part of a well-rounded program of stress relief prescription medication can be very beneficial. Whatever helps it happen, proper sleep is an essential ingredient in any program intended to lower stress.
Aromatherapy and Other Altenative Methods to Manage Stress
There are several popular (and some traditional) techniques for relieving stress which have proved helpful for many.
Those who are familiar with alternative techniques, such as aromatherapy and massage, may already realize some of the benefits of these methods. Aromatherapy, which is often combined with soothing "mood music" does actually work in a lot of cases. There's really little scientific evidence that aromatherapy, theoretically producing various effects through the use of essential oils, has any sort of deep or direct value in relieving stress, but memories are often associated with certain smells and at any rate it can certainly do no harm.
On the other hand, for those who find it difficult to meditate on their own, the atmosphere of an aromatherapy session can be relaxing, and that will have some value in relieving the symptoms of stress.
Using Music to Manage Stress
The old phrase from Congreve, with which many of us are familiar, in one form or another: "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast" still has its place in contemporary society. While the effect of music in managing stress shouldn't be exaggerated, it's still true that the right kind of music can help shift mood. Both, because of its memory associations with pleasant events, and for reasons not well understood, music can alter feelings.
Be aware, however, that music which bashes the ears and the psyche is more likely to heighten the stress than relieve it.
Massage Can Help Manage Stress
As mentioned above, a good massage, particularly if given in conjunction with relaxing music, and, perhaps even with a little aromatherapy atmosphere, can be an adjunct to a larger program of stress relief. One of the most common effects of stress is severe muscle tension, particularly in the neck, shoulders and calves.
Massage, particularly Swedish massage, is relaxing and helps physically. It also has psychological overtones of doing something good for oneself that contribute to the effect.
Psychotherapy to Manage Stress
While many of the above stress management techniques will help manage stress in almost any case, in extreme cases of stress, psychotherapy may be the necessary solution. The variety of schools and techniques which may be employed by this method make recommending a therapist harder than choosing a good dietary supplement. Trusted friends can often be a good source to turn to in this arena. At the very least, you may get a lead on a good therapist from your doctor or from the local medical association.
Even with professionals, you may have to try a couple of approaches, or even a couple of practitioners, before you, and they, get it right. This is normal and should not add to your stress. Take heart in the fact that you are doing something about the problem.
A Final Thought on the Subject of Managing Stress
I doubt that there is anyone who does not suffer from some stress symptoms from time to time, if not on a regular basis. The health issues resulting from stress can range from temporary and minimal, to permanent and lethal. Life without stress is almost impossible, but it can be simple to manage stress, or, at the very least, relieve the symptoms of stress, in most cases with one or more of the methods mentioned.
Return to Why Diets Don't Work
Page Updated 8:24 AM Sunday 11/16/2014