Stress management is a coping technique to deal with the stresses of daily life. Most stress management methods intend to equip a person with effective coping mechanisms to deal with stress. For many people they are unable to deal with stress and ignore it, bottle it up, or don’t deal with it at all. Unfortunately, in most cases this doesn’t eliminate the stress, rather it makes it worse. Learning ways to cope with stress effectively will lead to a happier, and healthier life.
Stress is a part of everyone’s life, whether it is positive or negative, short or long-term stress. However, not everyone has the ability to cope with stress in a positive health way. One’s ability to cope with stress is learned thru life experiences, by personal expectations and with the resources that are available. Effective coping mechanisms include time management, cognitive therapy, conflict resolution, exercise, meditation, etc. Effective stress management is healthy and helpful at reducing stress. Ineffective ways to cope with stress are usually unhealthy, unproductive and act as a diversion to dealing with stress. These methods include smoking, drinking, over or under eating, zoning out in front of the TV, withdrawal, pills/drugs, over sleeping, procrastinating, and taking stress out on others.
Stress management improves stress to restore everyday functioning. How a person is affected by stress is determined through their perception, capacity and understanding. Richard Lazarus a psychologist who studied stress developed the cognitive appraisal model that argued in order for a situation to be considered stressful it first must be appraised as stressful. If a person assesses a situation as harmful, threatening or challenging then it can be considered a stressor. First evaluation is influenced by personal and environmental factors, which also determine coping strategies. There is a choice between problem-focused coping, which manages the problem, and emotion focused coping, which manages ones negative emotions. Once a problem has been appraised and a coping mechanism has been chosen, a secondary assessment will determine if there are enough resources available to cope with the situation. Insufficient resources can change the primary assessment of a stressful situation.
The cognitive appraisal model sets up the basis for Lazarus’ stress management model, The Transactional Model, which focuses on the transaction between a person and their environment. If a person doesn’t appraise a situation as stressful, then stress is eliminated. Additionally if one possesses the adequate resources and ability too cope then stress can be dismissed. Changing ones perspective of a situation can avoid the development of stress. Learning ways to change ones perspective can decrease stress and improve the quality of life.
Although the transactional model is based upon the transaction between a person and the environment, the Health Realization/Innate Health Model examines the nature of ones thoughts in regards to these transactions. This model summates that a persons thought processes could determine ones response to stress. Therefore if we evaluate our negative thought processes and insecure thinking we can disengage from it. We can learn to use a “mental filter” to appraise oneself (resources) and ones circumstances (environment). Therefore we can change insecurity and negativity into positivity, which will reduce stress. Understanding the nature of thought through a quiet mind, inner wisdom and common sense will reward you with feelings of well being rather than stress.
These models of appraisal, transaction and nature of thought can all be learned through several sessions with a psychologist. In addition they will teach you coping skills and techniques to use when caught off guard. Most stress management techniques include setting limits, refusing demands and learning to relax. Some effective stress management techniques include time management, biofeedback, talk therapy, conflict resolution, relaxation, meditation, deep breathing, cognitive therapy, yoga, and exercise. Being able to uses effective stress management techniques will reduce stress, decrease anger and hostility, improve health and improve your life.