Monday, July 31, 2006

stress management : Stress and Handling Incompatible Activities

Is stress something personal or pure business, or … something in between?

Personal situations will affect the stress level experienced at your work. Examples are well known -- problems with a close relation or with family member or even more specific a situation of divorce.

These situations will bring stress because of the emotions that are involved and which are not easily controlled; they interfere with your ‘normal’ life. And will affect your attention at work.

At work, you have a specific role to fulfill. The journalist, for example, will have to cope daily with an amount of stress to meet the deadline. This is a seen as a healthy level of stress inherent to the job; a news agency can’t survive otherwise. If you can't handle it, you should choose another career.

But now the journalist is writing his article, and he is interrupted by his boss because of some management issue that pops up. There is not enough time to finish both -- meet the deadline and discuss an organizational issue; because these are incompatible. One needs time (a discussion), the other needs velocity (the article).

Dealing with stress is dealing not only with priorities, but understanding that each type of activity requires some specific approach. And your question in this is, Am I fitted for such an approach or do I constantly need more time to think.

If you face stress at work for a long period your job probably doesn’t fit you. If you like your job but you are confronted with stress you probably can’t separate different activities according to their characteristic. This is a switching problem in which you need to change your mindset according to the situation. In those cases a simple -- “not now,” is sufficient. Those are simple tricks you can learn.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account

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stress management : Stress Management Tips

You have probably heard this before but again stress is a key contributor to poor health. Study after study has found that when a person is stressed, the body reacts. The result of stress could be high-blood pressure, tension headaches, upset stomach, poor posture, and so on. Keeping stress in check will help you manage your overall health much better. Here are a few stress management tips for mental relaxation and self development.

Sleep Well

Does sleep really affect health? You bet it does. During sleep, your body is resting and recovering from all the work is has done throughout the day. Your serotonin levels are brought back in line, your muscles relax, and mind is allowed to clear itself in preparation for the next day. If you are not getting the proper amount of sleep, you will notice it in a physical way. While there is no magic number, usually between six and eight hours a night is appropriate. If you have difficulty getting to sleep, before you climb into bed, try Yoga, listening to soft, relaxing music, a glass of wine, or if you can talk someone into it, a good massage.

Laugh it Off

The medical field has proven that laughter actually works with your body toward good health. Have you ever heard the expression, “Laughter is the best medicine”? The truth is, when you laugh, several positive things happen. Your muscles relax; stress hormone product is reduced; you forget about pain; your body’s immune system is improved; high-blood pressure is lowered; the heart and lungs are strengthened; and overall, you feel better!

Learn and practice Yoga

The practice of Yoga is actually a spiritual practice. However, with the many benefits received it has quickly become a popular choice to thousands of people strictly for health. Yoga helps stretch out muscles and ligaments, tone the body, and the greatest benefit is that it helps to clear the mind. Having a clear mind works toward a healthy body. If you want to learn more about yoga, go to the internet and do a search.

Terje Brooks Ellingsen is a writer and internet publisher. He runs the website Terje is a Sociologist who enjoys contributing to the personal growth and happiness of others. He tries to accomplish this by writing about self help issues from his own experience and knowledge. For example, self development in general and self esteem development in particular.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

stress management : Handling Work Stress

Stress management in the workplace is a reality that most of us have to face for one reason or another and coping with it is key to long-term career success.

Some careers are more stressful than others and some companies and managers you work for might provide you with more stress than you’d otherwise like.

Having some stress can be helpful because it can provide motivation that allows you to work with a bit of a sense of urgency and purpose.

When stress in the workplace reaches a high level and carries over to your personal life in a negative way though, this is a sign that you need to do something to properly manage it so that it doesn’t spiral out of control further.

Here are some suggestions for successful stress management in the workplace:

1. Try to address issues that might be affecting your stress level that you might not readily think of, especially the ones you can change. Do you drive 1 hour to work each day and feel beaten up by the time you get into the office each morning? Are there ways you can lighten your workload? Do you need to learn how to say “no” to certain requests from time to time? Look for ways of changing how you to things especially ones you have some control over.

2. Look for ways to improve your time management. Often, stress is a result of simply not having enough time to complete everything you need to do. Stop wasting time talking with colleagues and making personal phone calls, stop surfing the Internet for personal reasons, and eliminate other time wasters. Shut your office door if you have trouble with people walking in and distracting you or find a quiet office where you can work undisturbed if necessary.

3. Find some sort of athletic endeavor to take part in. I like working out at the gym but you might find jogging, playing squash or taking yoga classes will help. Try something athletic that gets your mind off work. Start by going for a walk at lunchtime just to get out of the office for a bit.

4. Don’t neglect your personal life. Remember to try to find the proper balance between your work life and your work outside of work. Try when possible to leave work at work. A separation between work and personal life is paramount.

5. Carefully consider whether or not you are in the right job. If successful stress management at work is just not possible and if you yearn for your time with a previous employer when things were better, maybe you’re in the wrong job. Do you like what do you or is it simply a job to you? If it’s simply a job there might be other jobs that are less stressful that are better suited to your personality.

Stress management in the workplace is critical to your long-term career and long-term health. When stress management is simply not achievable through change, consider consulting a doctor for a medical opinion in case you are suffering from more than just stress.

Carl Mueller is an Internet entrepreneur and professional recruiter who wants to help you find your dream career.

Visit Carl's website to separate yourself from other job searchers:

Sign up for The Effective Career Planner, Carl’s free 5-day course:

Ezine editors/Webmasters: Please feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your ezine or on your website. Please don’t change any of the content and please ensure that you include the above bio that shows my website URL. If you would like me to address any specific career topics in future articles, please let me know.

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stress management : Does Stress Cause CANCER?

One of the main causes of death today is stress. People think it is cancer, or heart disease. But how do you think it gets started? Stress is present in all areas of our lives, and we have become so used to it that we are even unaware of its constant presence in our lives. Yet, stress invades our space when we are stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam and the cars are not moving. We feel stress when we rush to catch the morning train because we left a little bit later than usual. Stress attacks us with billboards advertising everywhere your eye turns, with blaring music and engine noises. We are invaded with pollution, we go to shops and our senses are blasted with stimulus to get us to spend our money, music, announcements, colours, signs to read. Have you ever been on a holiday to a really quiet place? If you’ve been to a quiet place, it might have been at the beach or the mountain, or in the country, but it would have been a place where there is no television, no radio, no music of any sort, and the external stimulation was provided by natural sounds. This is getting increasingly more difficult to find, even your local café or restaurant is saturated with music, loud cappuccino machines and many TV sets.

The fact that conditions such as stress have a serious impact on immunity is no longer in question. Temporary stress, like studying for an exam, can completely wipe out the body’s interferon levels, literally reducing them to 0. Interferon is necessary for certain cells of the immune system to do their jobs. For example, one kind of immune cells is a lymphocyte known as the natural killer cell. Natural killer cells have 2 functions. First, they patrol the body and seek out virus-infected cells for elimination. Second, they seek out and destroy cancer cells. In students, the stress of exam week often results in colds, cold sores or other minor illnesses, perhaps as a result of the poor natural killer cell activity brought about by low interferon levels. In terms of long-term health, chronic stress is much more important than short-term stress. Walter Cannon first described the body’s response to acute stress which he called the fight or flight response, in 1929. When we are faced with an emergency, there is a miraculous symphony that plays itself out flawlessly in the body.

Adrenaline pours out of the adrenal glands, causing blood pressure to rise and the heart to beat more forcefully. At the same time, sugar is liberated from storage in the liver and pours into the bloodstream. This rapidly burning fuel is quickly delivered t our muscles, giving us uncommon strength. Adrenaline simultaneously improves visual acuity, short-term memory, and mental sharpness. We can make decisions fast and then act on the, we can survive. To learn more about how stress causes disease, read Cancer Free For Life.

If you have a scare in traffic, your body responds instantly. A minute later, calm prevails unless you decide to wallow in anger or frustration. Then stress can become chronic when we hang on to ancient anger for years. Research showed that chronic stress leads to enlarged adrenal glands and the thymus gland, the producer of T-lymphocytes used to fight cancer, is very small. Chronic stress leads to illness. When we are stressed the hypothalamus secretes a hormone which causes the adrenal glands to manufacture cortisol. In the long run, it is a suppressor of the immune system. It prevents the formation of new immune cells, and inhibits the activity of the ones already in the system.

Visit www.alternative-health-ebooks for more information and free articles. This article is available for reprint for your website and newsletter, provided that you maintain its copyright integrity and include the signature tag.

From the office of Dr. Laurence Magne, author of

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

stress management : Avoid Stress to Secure Energy and Vitality

After a long day's work, it is natural to feel drained and tired. Working on any task for about five hours or more can really lessen a person's energy and vitality. Stress is the most common factor for loss of energy and vitality especially among people who work everyday. Stress is also the most known factor contributing to a person's risk of getting sick.

Stress is inevitable, and it's even omnipresent. In clinical language, it is any physical or psychological stimulus resulting in the production of mental tension or physiological reactions. If understood and handled well, stress can lead a person to regaining his/her energy and vitality and to living a healthier life. But if not, illnesses and even fatal diseases can arise.

Deadlines, finances, relationship or marital problems, work or profession, school, existing ailment, and other emotional or psychological disturbances are the most common causes of mental or emotional stress. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, and very tiring activities are on the other hand leading roots of physical stress. Doctors, however, claim that mental stress reduces a person's energy and vitality more than the physical stressors do.

When the body detects stress, it naturally responds to it. When the mind is stressed, the brain releases chemicals that cause headache, prompting us to do something about it. The same happens when your leg or arm muscles are already tired and weary. But these bodily responses do not automatically result to regaining energy and vitality. The way we respond to these natural body responses are the determinants of stress reduction.

Different individuals respond to stress in many varying ways. Most resort to smoking cigarettes because of its calming effect, others drink alcohol, some go to the gym and work out, others rest and meditate. These responses are responsible to successful and unsuccessful regaining of lost energy and vitality.

The primary step to avoid or mitigate the effects of stress is to know where it is coming from. Once the source is identified, you can then think of a way on how to deal with it. But don't just deal with it, but deal with it properly. Overdoing your response to stress can yield to more damaging results. Excessive alcohol intake and even exercise can result to further negative implications. Your response should be something sustainable (can be regularly done and in right frequency) and basically safe and beneficial. Evaluating your lifestyle (eating habits, physical activities, etc.), having a positive outlook in life, excellent time management, and balancing your priorities are what most doctors would say some of the best ways to avoid stress and prevent surmountable loss of energy and vitality.

Having enough energy and vitality is crucial for our survival throughout our life. The amount of energy and vitality we acquire, lose, and regain will determine our body's longevity in this stress-filled world. There's no way we can get rid of stress, it's as constant as change. But we can do ways to avoid or lessen its effects. Stress is embedded in our nature and just like everything that is, it exists for a purpose. It's up to us to know how to optimize the possible good effects it can give by knowing how to properly deal with it.

For more valuable information on Energy and Vitality, please visit

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stress management : Stress Management by Relaxation

The method for stress management which I am going to show you below is actually a combination of two methods; a regular deep breathing exercise and Jacobsen's Progressive. Both are proven relaxation exercises and by combining them they function even better. These relaxation techniques can help you reduce tension in your muscles as well as manage the effects of the fight-or-flight response on your body - link when you feel you are about to get overwhelmed by panic. In a situation where you have to perform by thinking clearly under pressure, this relaxing exercise is really great. Here is what you do:

Sit down comfortably in a way that enables you to relax.

While you focus your body on relaxation take a series (10, 20 or even more) of deep breaths. For each breath you take, try to relax your body even more.

Tense up the muscles of both your hands maximally, make a fist and hold this tension for five seconds.

From the state of maximum tension, relax your hand's muscles to the state they were in before you tensed them.

Focus on your hand muscles and try to relax them even further so that you are as relaxed as possible.

Repeat step 3 to 5 but instead of your hands muscles, now concentrate on the following parts of your body in sequenze: your feet, your legs and tighs, your arms, your breast and stomach, your back and finally your neck and head's muscles.

The idea is that you'll probably be able to relax your muscles more by tensing them first, than you would if you just relaxed your muscles directly. You can also repeat the deep breathing steps in between the tensing / relaxation of the muscles of your different body parts.

Terje Brooks Ellingsen is a writer and internet publisher. He runs the website Terje is a Sociologist who enjoys contributing to the personal growth and happiness of others. He tries to accomplish this by writing about self improvement issues from his own experience and knowledge. For example, stress management by self esteem improvement and relaxation exercises to stop smoking

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Monday, July 24, 2006

stress management : Reduce Your Stress, Your Children Are Waiting

Mothers are expected to possess huge hearts, big shoulders, a minimum of 3 hands, all the answers and the list goes on! What many mothers forget is they are not born with super hero powers to handle all of those things at once.

Mom=Stress. It’s a fact of life. Reducing stress is of the utmost importance to everyone, but especially mothers.

You know stress can lead to depression, heart disease, and an unhealthy mom. Did you also know your stress, if not handled correctly, can have a negative impact on your children too?

The most important things in a mother’s life, her children, are also the most influential. Children are sponges and everything Mom does they will, at some point in time in their lives, mimic. If children see their mother constantly stressed out, they will be more inclined to follow those patterns. What you do today can determine the kind of life your child will lead tomorrow, including how you make it a point to reduce stressful situations.

Mothers tend to overload themselves, which in turn overloads their children. Adults move at a much faster pace and their bodies are more adept to handle the speed of life. Children, on the other hand, are not able to function this way, which can lead to developmental and behavior problems in the long run if constantly pushed to keep up with an adult’s quicker pace.

Studies have shown a mother who is under excessive amounts of stress will hand out harsher punishments than one who is not. Prolonged stress can cause a mother to get to the point that she feels overwhelmed and will not stop to think before handing down discipline. This type of behavior teaches children it is ok to let your mood control your life as a parent

Children need to feel a sense of security and know that their mom is there to help them work through and understand the stressful times in their lives. If children are not taught what stress is and why it is a part of their lives, they will never learn how to reduce it, therefore leading them down a path of unhappiness and unhealthy choices. Give them the tools early about how to deal with stress and more importantly, how to reduce the amount of stress that occurs in their lives.

There is no one who lives an entirely stress free life. In fact, you shouldn’t want your children to have a life with absolutely no stress. The day will come that a stressful situation occurs and they will have no idea how to cope with it, which is cause for an extremely negative outcome.

As a mother you must show your children that stress does not have to control your life. Mother’s have a tendency to try and do it all; even when they know they are not capable. STOP! Make a point, each day, to reduce your stress levels. Eliminating just one stressful situation can make a world of difference in the way you feel and how your children handle stress as adults.

Aurelia Williams, certified Personal Life Coach and owner of Real Life Coaching. Are you looking to reduce your stress? Join our Stress Less program. Free Consultation included.

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stress management : How To Avoid Summer Holiday Stresses

It's summer time again and the masses are flying away for two weeks of sun, sea, sand and good times. Actually, this summer, we're even enjoying holidays on the UK's own beaches and waterways with temperatures reaching 36 degrees in places. We all look for different things from a holiday; some look for sheer relaxation, others live for two weeks of partying hard and sleeping it off the next day, and then there are those that appreciate culture and like to get off the beaten track. Whatever type of holidaymaker you are there is one thing that nobody likes – unnecessary stress! Who wants to feel like they need a holiday to recover from their holiday!?

The great news is that holiday stress can be avoided; you just need to set aside some time in advance to make preparations. There are now some fantastic websites that can help by providing advice on a number of potentially stressful areas; from packing effectively to advice on food, drink and transport in your chosen location. Just search for “holiday tips” in your search engine of choice, adding your destination to the "key words" if you're looking for specifically local advice. Don’t you just love the online world?

For those parents out there, fear not. Going away with your family does not have to be difficult. Some simple research and planning will ensure you are prepared for an enjoyable, safe and stress free family holiday. Your children will look back fondly on the holiday and hope to do something similar when it’s their turn to raise a family. The Mothercare website has a great section on summer travel which covers many essential areas. Useful topics include feeding on the move, baby and kids summer clothing tips, sun safety for babies and toddlers and travelling when pregnant.

For anyone who hasn’t decided on their ideal holiday destination, or needs a comprehensive guide, there are many online sites that can provide help, however an easy to carry guide in book form is usually the best option. Currently one of the best is the Dorling Kindersley’s series of Eyewitness Travel Guides. The DK travel guides are well illustrated and comprehensively cover all the general areas you would expect from food and drink, to entertainment, weather, cultural information and lots more. What a productive way to kill some time on the plane!

Wherever you decide to go just remember, a little time spent planning in advance will lead to a lot of relaxation and happy times in your chosen destination. Happy holidays!

About the author:
Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh rugby club.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

stress management : Stress and the way we think

Particularly in normal working life, much of our stress is subtle and occurs without obvious threat to survival. Most comes from things like work overload, conflicting priorities, inconsistent values, over-challenging deadlines, conflict with co-workers, unpleasant environments and so on. Not only do these reduce our performance as we divert mental effort into handling them, they can also cause a great deal of unhappiness.

We have already mentioned that the most common currently accepted definition of stress is something that is experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”

Stress, a matter of judgment
In becoming stressed, people must therefore make two main judgments: firstly they must feel threatened by the situation, and secondly they must doubt that their capabilities and resources are sufficient to meet the threat.

How stressed someone feels depends on how much damage they think the situation can do them, and how closely their resources meet the demands of the situation. This sense of threat is rarely physical. It may, for example, involve perceived threats to our social standing, to other people’s opinions of us, to our career prospects or to our own deeply held values.

Just as with real threats to our survival, these perceived threats trigger the hormonal fight-or-flight response, with all of its negative consequences.

Building on this, this site offers a variety of approaches to managing stress. The navigation bar in the left hand column offers a range of practical methods for managing these stresses by tackling them at source. It also offers some powerful tools for changing your interpretation of stressful situations, thereby reducing the perception of threat.

Pulling these mechanisms together – the integrated stress response…
So far, we have presented the Fight-or-Flight response, the General Adaptation Syndrome, and our mental responses to stress as separate mechanisms. In fact, they can fit together into one response.

The key to this is that Hans Selye’s ‘Alarm Phase’ is the same thing as Walter Cannon’s Fight-or-Flight response.

We can therefore see that mental stress triggers the fight-or-flight response, and that if this stress is sustained for a long time, the end result might be exhaustion and burnout.

© Mind Tools Ltd, 1995-2006

stress management : What Stress Is... Definitions

This is a dangerous topic!

There have been many different definitions of what stress is, whether used by psychologists, medics, management consultants or others. There seems to have been something approaching open warfare between competing definitions: Views have been passionately held and aggressively defended.

What complicates this is that intuitively we all feel that we know what stress is, as it is something we have all experienced. A definition should therefore be obvious…except that it is not.

Problems of Definition

One problem with a single definition is that stress is made up of many things: It is a family of related experiences, pathways, responses and outcomes caused by a range of different events or circumstances. Different people experience different aspects and identify with different definitions.

Hans Selye (one of the founding fathers of stress research) identified another part of this problem when he saw that different types of definition operate in different areas of knowledge. To a lawyer or a linguist, words have very precise, definite and fixed meanings. In other fields, ideas and definitions continue evolving as research and knowledge expands.

Selye’s view in 1956 was that “stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.” Selye believed that the biochemical effects of stress would be experienced irrespective of whether the situation was positive or negative.

Since then, ideas have moved on. In particular, the harmful biochemical and long-term effects of stress have rarely been observed in positive situations.

The current consensus

Now, the most commonly accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.

People feel little stress when they have the time, experience and resources to manage a situation. They feel great stress when they think they can't handle the demands put upon them. Stress is therefore a negative experience. And it is not an inevitable consequence of an event: It depends a lot on people's perceptions of a situation and their real ability to cope with it.

This is the main definition used by this site, although we also recognize that there is an intertwined instinctive stress response to unexpected events. The stress response inside us is therefore part instinct and part to do with the way we think.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

stress management : Stress and Your Performance

So far, we have seen that stress is a negative experience. We have seen the short-term negative effects that stress hormones can have on your performance, and have seen how stress can contribute to burnout.

The Positive Effects of Pressure

Sometimes, however, the pressures and demands that may cause stress can be positive in their effect. One example of this is where sportsmen and women flood their bodies with fight-or-flight adrenaline to power an explosive performance. Another example is where deadlines are used to motivate people who seem bored or unmotivated. We will discuss this briefly here, but throughout the rest of this site we see stress as a problem that needs to be solved.

And the Negative...

In most work situations jobs, our stress responses causes our performance to suffer. A calm, rational, controlled and sensitive approach is usually called for in dealing with most difficult problems at work: Our social inter-relationships are just too complex not to be damaged by an aggressive approach, while a passive and withdrawn response to stress means that we can fail to assert our rights when we should.

Before we look further at how to manage stress and our performance, it is important to look at the relationship between pressure and performance in a little more detail, first by looking at the idea of the “Inverted-U”, and second by looking at "Flow". This is the ideal state of concentration and focus that brings excellent performance.

Pressure & Performance – the Inverted U
The relationship between pressure and performance is explained in one of the oldest and most important ideas in stress management, the “Inverted-U” relationship between pressure and performance (see below). The Inverted-U relationship focuses on people’s performance of a task.

The left hand side of the graph is easy to explain for pragmatic reasons. When there is very little pressure on us to carry out an important task, there is little incentive for us to focus energy and attention on it. This is particularly the case when there may be other, more urgent, or more interesting, tasks competing for attention. As pressure on us increases, we enter the “area of best performance”. Here, we are able to focus on the task and perform well – there is enough pressure on us to focus our attention but not so much that it disrupts our performance.

© Mind Tools Ltd, 1995-2006

stress management : Stress and Your Health

We've already looked at the survival benefits of the fight-or-flight response, as well as the problems this caused for our performance in work-related situations. We've also seen the negative “burnout” effect of exposure to long-term stress. These effects can also affect your health – either with direct physiological damage to your body, or with harmful behavioral effects.

The behavioral effects of stress

The behavioral effects of an over-stressed lifestyle are easy to explain. When under pressure, some people are more likely to drink heavily or smoke, as a way of getting immediate chemical relief from stress.

Others may have so much work to do that they do not exercise or eat properly. They may cut down on sleep, or may worry so much that they sleep badly. They may get so carried away with work and meeting daily pressures that they do not take time to see the doctor or dentist when they need to. All of these are likely to harm health.

The direct physiological effects of excessive stress are more complex. In some areas they are well understood, while in other areas, they are still subject to debate and further research.

stress and heart disease

The link between stress and heart disease is well-established. If stress is intense, and stress hormones are not ‘used up’ by physical activity, our raised heart rate and high blood pressure put tension on arteries and cause damage to them. As the body heals this damage, artery walls scar and thicken, which can reduce the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.

This is where a fight-or-flight response can become lethal: Stress hormones accelerate the heart to increase the blood supply to muscles; however, blood vessels in the heart may have become so narrow that not enough blood reaches the heart to meet these demands. This can cause a heart attack.

other effects of stress

Stress has been also been found to damage the immune system, which explains why we catch more colds when we are stressed. It may intensify symptoms in diseases that have an autoimmune component, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It also seems to affect headaches and irritable bowel syndrome, and there are now suggestions of links between stress and cancer.

stress is also associated with mental health problems and, in particular, anxiety and depression. Here the relationship is fairly clear: the negative thinking that is associated with stress also contributes to these.

The direct effects of stress in other areas of health are still under debate. In some areas (for example in the formation of stomach ulcers) diseases traditionally associated with stress are now attributed to other causes.

Regular exercise can reduce your physiological reaction to stress. It also strengthens your heart and increases the blood supply to it, directly affecting your vulnerability to heart disease.

Although this site focuses mainly on stress and work performance, many of the tools and techniques within it will help you manage stresses that would otherwise adversely affect your health. However, if you suspect that you are prone to stress-related illness, or if you are in any doubt about the state of your health, you should consult appropriate medical advice immediately. Keep in mind that stress management is only part of any solution to stress-related illness.

© Mind Tools Ltd, 1995-2006

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

stress management : The Underlying Mechanisms...

There are two types of instinctive stress response that are important to how we understand stress and stress management: the short-term “Fight-or-Flight” response and the long-term “General Adaptation Syndrome”. The first is a basic survival instinct, while the second is a long-term effect of exposure to stress.

A third mechanism comes from the way that we think and interpret the situations in which we find ourselves.

Actually, these three mechanisms can be part of the same stress response – we will initially look at them separately, and then show how they can fit together.

Some of the early work on stress (conducted by Walter Cannon in 1932) established the existence of the well-known fight-or-flight response. His work showed that when an animal experiences a shock or perceives a threat, it quickly releases hormones that help it to survive.

These hormones help us to run faster and fight harder. They increase heart rate and blood pressure, delivering more oxygen and blood sugar to power important muscles. They increase sweating in an effort to cool these muscles, and help them stay efficient. They divert blood away from the skin to the core of our bodies, reducing blood loss if we are damaged. And as well as this, these hormones focus our attention on the threat, to the exclusion of everything else. All of this significantly improves our ability to survive life-threatening events.

Power, but little control...

Unfortunately, this mobilization of the body for survival also has negative consequences. In this state, we are excitable, anxious, jumpy and irritable. This reduces our ability to work effectively with other people.

With trembling and a pounding heart, we can find it difficult to execute precise, controlled skills. And the intensity of our focus on survival interferes with our ability to make fine judgments based on drawing information from many sources. We find ourselves more accident-prone and less able to make good decisions.

It is easy to think that this fight-or-flight, or adrenaline, response is only triggered by obviously life-threatening danger. On the contrary, recent research shows that we experience the fight-or-flight response when simply encountering something unexpected.

The situation does not have to be dramatic: People experience this response when frustrated or interrupted, or when they experience a situation that is new or in some way challenging. This hormonal, fight-or-flight response is a normal part of everyday life and a part of everyday stress, although often with an intensity that is so low that we do not notice it.

There are very few situations in modern working life where this response is useful. Most situations benefit from a calm, rational, controlled and socially sensitive approach. Our Relaxation Techniques section explains a range of good techniques for keeping this fight-or-flight response under control.

The General Adaptation Syndrome and Burnout
Hans Selye took a different approach from Cannon. Starting with the observation that different diseases and injuries to the body seemed to cause the same symptoms in patients, he identified a general response (the “General Adaptation Syndrome”) with which the body reacts to a major stimulus. While the Fight-or-Flight response works in the very short term, the General Adaptation Syndrome operates in response to longer-term exposure to causes of stress.

Selye identified that when pushed to extremes, animals reacted in three stages:

First, in the Alarm Phase, they reacted to the stressor.
Next, in the Resistance Phase, the resistance to the stressor increased as the animal adapted to, and coped with, it. This phase lasted for as long as the animal could support this heightened resistance.
Finally, once resistance was exhausted, the animal entered the Exhaustion Phase, and resistance declined substantially.
Selye established this with many hundreds of experiments performed on laboratory rats. However, he also quoted research during World War II with bomber pilots. Once they had completed a few missions over enemy territory, these pilots usually settled down and performed well. After many missions, however, pilot fatigue would set in as they began to show “neurotic manifestations”.

In the business environment, this exhaustion is seen in “burnout”. The classic example comes from the Wall Street trading floor: by most people’s standards, life on a trading floor is stressful. Traders learn to adapt to the daily stressors of making big financial decisions, and of winning and losing large sums of money. In many cases, however, these stresses increase and fatigue starts to set in.

At the same time, as traders become successful and earn more and more money, their financial motivation to succeed can diminish. Ultimately, many traders experience burnout. We look at this in more detail in our section on burnout.

.© Mind Tools Ltd, 1995-2006

stress management : Understanding Stress & Stress Management

This section of helps you understand what stress is.

It defines stress and then explains the fundamental mechanisms behind it. Next, it shows you the effects that stress has on your health and on your performance. Finally, it introduces you to the different approaches to stress management used on this site.
This section helps you to understand the current state of research into stress. We look at this so that you understand how soundly some of these ideas have been examined.

It also introduces you to the fundamental principles behind stress management. While the techniques on this site cover the most common sources of stress, a good understanding of the fundamentals will help you to adapt these tools and create new ones to handle unique situations.

Explaining the fundamentals...

Much research has been conducted into stress over the last hundred years. Some of the theories are settled and accepted; others are still being researched and debated. This section helps you understand some of the key concepts and theories from current psychological research. These are the foundation on which this site and the tools and techniques within it have been designed.

We start by defining stress. We then look at the underlying mechanisms that cause it.

Stress and its impact on you...

Next, we look at the nature of stress and consider the relationships between stress and health, and between stress and work performance.

We see how stress can have very negative effects on your short- and long-term health, performance and career success, as well as on your personal happiness. This emphasizes the importance of good stress management.

Introducing stress management

Finally, we look at the three types of approach to managing stress:

action oriented (reducing stress by taking action);
perception oriented (dealing with attitudes and emotional responses to stress);
and survival oriented (living and coping with stresses that cannot be otherwise resolved).
The concepts introduced here lie behind the tools and techniques that you will encounter elsewhere on the site, helping you to manage stress constructively.

Note: This site focuses on the sort of stress people can expect to experience as a normal part of a business or public service career. It does not consider in any depth the intense stress experienced in life-threatening situations. Nor does it look at handling the effects of, for example, Depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These are very real issues; however, they are outside the scope of this site.

© Mind Tools Ltd, 1995-2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

stress management : A Basic Outline To Cope With Stress!

Your ears might have heard countless number of times "do this… and get away from stress," or, "do that…, and you will be totally relieved of stress,"turning you even more stressed out!!

…Stop scratching your head over what to be or what not to be done. I have compiled a definite set of action plan to cope with stress in life. I have tried it in the past and it really helped. In fact, I have used them time and again.

This might help you as well, simply read on.

1. Beware of your own warning signs. For, this could just be a sudden feeling of anxiety.

2. Consider what is really causing stress to you? You may be surprised to find the fact.

3. Think over what you could do to change the things. Find out how much of stress is indeed caused by you?

4. At times, due to excessive stress we fall into vicious trap of not eating properly and go to ill practices such as smoking and drinking to further worsen the situation. Instead, you should try and eat a balanced diet.

5. Eat complex carbohydrates rather than refined ones. This will really help you cope with mood swings.

6. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and keep sugar and salt intake low.

7. Drink plenty of water, it will rehydrate your body. Try to keep caffeine consumption to the minimum.

8. Avoid nicotine or any other self prescribed drug.

9. Don't feel guilty about including a period of relaxation every day. We all need to turn off from time to time.

10. Do something that is creative and helps you relax. Say, listen music, do yoga, meditate, enjoy aromatherapy or any other stress busting exercise.

11. Learn to be more assertive and try to manage your time properly.

12. You can even consider attending a stress management training course.

13. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

These are certain steps that can truly help you cope with stress. It will work wonders for you. The choice is yours, if you wanna live with stress or acquire any of these good points to mar the stress out of your life.

by Ashish Jain

stress management : 7 Successful Stress Management Techniques

Everyone needs successful stress management techniques. Easy to learn and easy to implement, you can use them for your own stress management or teach them to help others manage theirs.

Manage your stress and be a healthier, happier and more pleasant person to be around. Let's cut to the chase…

1. Make stress your friend

Acknowledge that stress is good and make stress your friend! Based on the body's natural "fight or flight" response, that burst of energy will enhance your performance at the right moment. I've yet to see a top sportsman totally relaxed before a big competition. Use stress wisely to push yourself that little bit harder when it counts most.

2. Stress is contagious

Stressed people sneeze stress germs indiscriminately and before you know it, you are infected with stress germs too!

Protect yourself from stress germs by recognising stress in others and limiting your contact with them. Or if you've got the inclination, play stress doctor and teach them how to better manage their stress.

3. Copy good stress managers

When people around are losing their head, which keeps calm? What are they doing differently? What is their attitude? What language do they use? Are they trained and experienced?

Figure it out from afar or sit them down for a chat. Learn from the best stress managers and copy what they do.

4. Use heavy breathing.

You can trick your body into relaxing by using heavy breathing. Breathe in slowly for a count of 7 then breathe out for a count of 11. Repeat the 7-11 breathing until your heart rate slows down, your sweaty palms dry off and things start to feel more normal.

5. Stop stress thought trains

It is possible to tangle yourself up in a stress knot all by yourself. "If this happens, then that might happen and then we're all up the creek!" Most of these things never happen, so why waste all that energy worrying needlessly?

Give stress thought-trains the red light and stop them in their tracks. Okay so it might go wrong – how likely is that, and what can you do to prevent it?

6. Know your stress hot spots and trigger points

Presentations, interviews, meetings, giving difficult feedback, tight deadlines……. My heart rate is cranking up just writing these down!

Make your own list of stress trigger points or hot spots. Be specific. Is it only presentations to a certain audience that get you worked up? Does one project cause more stress than another? Did you drink too much coffee?

Knowing what causes you stress is powerful information, as you can take action to make it less stressful. Do you need to learn some new skills? Do you need extra resources? Do you need to switch to de-caffeinated coffee?

7. Eat, drink, sleep and be merry!

Lack of sleep, poor diet and no exercise wreaks havoc on our body and mind. Kind of obvious, but worth mentioning as it's often ignored as a stress management technique. Listen to your mother and don't burn the candle at both ends!

And those are the 7 successful stress management techniques! Take time to learn them, use them and teach them, and be a great stress manager.

by Lyndsay Swinton

Monday, July 03, 2006

stress management : How Can I Manage Stress Better?

Identifying unrelieved stress and being aware of its effect on our lives is not sufficient for reducing its harmful effects. Just as there are many sources of stress, there are many possibilities for its management. However, all require work toward change: changing the source of stress and/or changing your reaction to it. How do you proceed?

1. Become aware of your stressors and your emotional and physical reactions.
Notice your distress. Don't ignore it. Don't gloss over your problems.
Determine what events distress you. What are you telling yourself about meaning of these events?
Determine how your body responds to the stress. Do you become nervous or physically upset? If so, in what specific ways?

2. Recognize what you can change.
Can you change your stressors by avoiding or eliminating them completely?
Can you reduce their intensity (manage them over a period of time instead of on a daily or weekly basis)?
Can you shorten your exposure to stress (take a break, leave the physical premises)?
Can you devote the time and energy necessary to making a change (goal setting, time management techniques, and delayed gratification strategies may be helpful here)?

3. Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress.
The stress reaction is triggered by your perception of danger...physical danger and/or emotional danger. Are you viewing your stressors in exaggerated terms and/or taking a difficult situation and making it a disaster?
Are you expecting to please everyone?
Are you overreacting and viewing things as absolutely critical and urgent? Do you feel you must always prevail in every situation?
Work at adopting more moderate views; try to see the stress as something you can cope with rather than something that overpowers you.
Try to temper your excess emotions. Put the situation in perspective. Do not labor on the negative aspects and the "what if's."

4. Learn to moderate your physical reactions to stress.
Slow, deep breathing will bring your heart rate and respiration back to normal.
Relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension. Electronic biofeedback can help you gain voluntary control over such things as muscle tension, heart reate, and blood pressure.
Medications, when prescribed by a physician, can help in the short term in moderating your physical reactions. However, they alone are not the answer. Learning to moderate these reactions on your own is a preferable long-term solution.

5. Build your physical reserves.
Exercise for cardiovascular fitness three to four times a week (moderate, prolonged rhythmic exercise is best, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging).
Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals.
Maintain your ideal weight.
Avoid nicotine, excessive caffeine, and other stimulants.
Mix leisure with work. Take breaks and get away when you can.
Get enough sleep. Be as consistent with your sleep schedule as possible.

6. Maintain your emotional reserves.
Develop some mutually supportive friendships/relationships.
Pursue realistic goals which are meaningful to you, rather than goals others have for you that you do not share.
Expect some frustrations, failures, and sorrows.
Always be kind and gentle with yourself -- be a friend to yourself.

Copyright © 2005
by, Atlanta, GA, USA.

stress management : How Can I Eliminate Stress from My Life?

As we have seen, positive stress adds anticipation and excitement to life, and we all thrive under a certain amount of stress. Deadlines, competitions, confrontations, and even our frustrations and sorrows add depth and enrichment to our lives. Our goal is not to eliminate stress but to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help us. Insufficient stress acts as a depressant and may leave us feeling bored or dejected; on the other hand, excessive stress may leave us feeling "tied up in knots." What we need to do is find the optimal level of stress which will individually motivate but not overwhelm each of us.

How Can I Tell What is Optimal Stress for Me?
There is no single level of stress that is optimal for all people. We are all individual creatures with unique requirements. As such, what is distressing to one may be a joy to another. And even when we agree that a particular event is distressing, we are likely to differ in our physiological and psychological responses to it.

The person who loves to arbitrate disputes and moves from job site to job site would be stressed in a job which was stable and routine, whereas the person who thrives under stable conditions would very likely be stressed on a job where duties were highly varied. Also, our personal stress requirements and the amount which we can tolerate before we become distressed changes with our ages.

It has been found that most illness is related to unrelieved stress. If you are experiencing stress symptoms, you have gone beyond your optimal stress level; you need to reduce the stress in your life and/or improve your ability to manage it.

Copyright © 2005
by, Atlanta, GA, USA.

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