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Stress is a condition that impairs the physical and/or psychological balance of an individual. It is triggered by stimuli called stressors that can be physical, mental, social or emotional, such as: an examination, public speaking, a conflict, a surgical operation, a marriage, or an accident. Much to our dismay, some of these may even happen simultaneously. Stressors are perceived differently from one individual to another, but some factors favor the onset of stress such as loss of control over a situation, novelty, unpredictability, or a threat to one’s ego.
We deal with stress daily without being aware we’re stressed. We sweat, our hearts pound and our muscles tense, we’re short of breath trying to solve a problem at work, at home, or elsewhere. Reasonable doses of stress such as those we feel when giving presentations, delivering an important project, getting married or making other important decisions actually help us stay on track and be more productive. Serious problems emerge when stress gets the best of us and becomes an inseparable part of our lives. Long-term stress impedes our well-being and jeopardizes physical and mental health.
In order to successfully combat stress, people apply stress management techniques which can help them diminish or at least, ease the effects of stress. When exposed to too much stress, our coping mechanism begins to disintegrate and it is our job to keep them steadfast as much as possible. This is precisely what stress management does – it helps us keep our composure even when things take a turn for the worse.
What is Stress Management
Stress management (SM) implies a wide range of techniques that help individuals cope with stressors. Although the tension and pressure are an inevitable component of our day-to-day lives, the problems occur when they start impeding on our biopsychosocial performance. This is the time when we need to reassess and reconsider our lifestyle in order to mitigate those disrupting factors.
Those can be simple steps we can take on a regular basis without introducing drastic changes to our lifestyle. This primarily means dietary alterations, regular sleep and exercise, or better time-management. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, expressing your emotions in an assertive way, accepting that some things are beyond you, and learning where to draw the line between what you can and can’t do are also proven ways of successfully managing stress.
The rule of thumb when coping with stress is avoiding the pitfalls of seemingly effective methods, such as resorting to alcohol or substance abuse, taking the pressure out on family members, friends and colleagues, or engaging in risky compulsive behaviors. When one feels they are already affected by stress beyond immediate repair, counselors and health professionals are there to offer their help through training, relaxation programs, and sometimes even hypnosis.
Stress Management Definition
The definitions of stress management vary. In a typical English dictionary, you may often come across a definition stating that stress management is a method of limiting stress and its effects by learning ways of behaving and thinking that reduce it (Cambridge Dictionary). In the business manuals, stress management at work may also be defined as interventions designed to reduce the impact of stressors in the workplace. Going further still, another definition from psychology manuals reminds us that stress management is a wide set of adjustments and techniques implemented with the aim to decrease the levels of stress. All things considered, it seems like a unanimous definition doesn’t sufficiently include each and every aspect of this growingly present issue.
Be that as it may, everyone agrees that stress management includes tangible methods that produce objective results in battling stress. Although many of the techniques imply self-help, a lot of them require the guidance of health professionals. There is a wide spectrum of techniques employed in stress management. It is important to notice that techniques suitable for one person may not work on the other. For this reason, counselors and therapists determine what program will work best for any given individual, depending on their biopsychosocial profile.