An important element of our life-style is how well we manage to cope with stress. In the first place we need to recognise that stress has a positive, as well as a negative, significance. Thus, if we have too little stress in our lives we can experience intense boredom and lack of challenge; too much and we can become overwhelmed and subject to extreme anxiety and psychosomatic illnesses, such as migraine and chronic indigestion.
Stress can have external and internal origins, and different coping strategies may be needed to deal with these. If, for example, your stress comes from an unduly heavy workload or from people who are very difficult to work with, one solution would be to withdraw from the situation, perhaps by changing your job. If, alternatively, your stress comes largely from within, for example, where you have a lack of confidence about your ability to pass an exam, then it will be necessary for you to take the necessary self-help steps to handle your stressful situation.
There are four basic approaches to stress management. The first, as indicated above, may be to seek changes to your external environment. The other three involve steps that you need to take. These can involve changes in the way you do things (behavioural), changes in how you see your situation (cognitive) and, more generally, beneficial modifications in your way of life (life-style).
In the first place it is good to develop a life-style which keeps you fit and well and less prone to the effects of stress. You may, for example, seek to make beneficial changes to your diet, take more regular exercise and explore the use of various relaxation methods.
If you find yourself in a very stressful situation, you should first decide whether changes are needed in your external environment. This may typically be the primary solution where others, e.g. work colleagues, are experiencing similar stresses. Where changes in the external environment are not the appropriate solution, you should seek to make the appropriate behavioural, cognitive and life-style changes. More detailed guidance in the use of these methods can be found by accessing the sites listed below.
For further information on stress, stress management and mental health see:
- Internet Mental Health
Not drinking, drowning by Polly Curtis
SelfGrowth.com - Stress Management Websites
The stress buster - David Servan-Schreiber by Harriet Griffey
Stress Management for Patient and Physician