Wednesday, August 30, 2006

stress management : Causes of Stress

There are many situations which cause stress. Some are obvious, such as an excessive work-load, coping with a death or the break-up of a relationship. Others you may feel are just part of life and should be taken in your stride.

However, all of the following (and in no particular order) are classic stress-inducing situations and it is important to recognise them as such - especially if you are dealing with more than one at a time:

an excessive workload
an uncomfortable physical environment, eg, prolonged extremes of temperature or noise
not enough sleep
ill health
prolonged physical activity
financial difficulties
a change in your living/working patterns: leaving home, new flatmates, a new job
moving house
bad self-image: 'I'm too fat', '... too dumb', '... too ugly'
living/working/studying in an environment that is not of your culture
living/working/studying using a second language
hostile, or uncomfortable emotional environments, eg, restructuring, redundancy
a break-up of a relationship
the death or loss of a friend or relation.

© 2003 Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

stress management : STRESS MANAGEMENT 2

It is important to take some time to examine what is stressful to you and then devise a plan for yourself. Try to figure out what you can and cannot change. Maybe you can eliminate some stressors or find a way to encounter them less often. It is better if you can do this evaluation and put some methods of stress reduction to work for yourself before you are in the middle of a crisis.

Let's examine some possible problems and resources. Do you create stress for yourself? Do you procrastinate and leave major projects to be completed at the last minute? Do you fail to organize your time and simply cannot get your work done? Then a workshop on time management might be helpful to you. There are also many books available regarding effective time management.

Sometimes energetic, organized people get themselves overcommitted and do not allow enough time in their schedule for relaxation. The wear and tear of always having to be somewhere and doing something can be quite stressful. Can you make sure you schedule exercise, Yoga, or meditation into your daily routine?

Another way in which people sometimes contribute to their stress is by overreacting to events. Do you sometimes exaggerate the magnitude of the problem rather than put it in perspective? Do you complain about a problem to the point that it starts to take on a life of its own? It is important to assume the attitude that life is to be lived, taking the good along with the bad. It is important to accept your feelings and to express them and at some point be able to start problem- solving.

And finally, do you add stress to your life by trying to please everyone? The end result of this is that you ignore your feelings and they build up inside of you. In addition, those around you begin to ignore your feelings too because you have taught them that your feelings are not important. This can lead to much tension, stress and unhappiness in your life. Doing some reading on assertiveness or attending an assertiveness workshop would be a helpful stress reducer in this situation.

These are just a few of the possible ways in which stress can affect your life. This message is simply an overview on stress management and frequently people need help examining their specific situation.

by Loyola College Counseling Center

stress management : STRESS MANAGEMENT 1

Stress is the accumulation of tension that you begin to feel, both physically and emotionally, as you try to adapt to all the changes and demands in your environment. There are many stressful life events that we all experience at one time or another, such as death of a loved one or the loss of an important relationship. While these events would be stressful to anyone, it is not so much what happens out there, as what you do with it for yourself. In addition, stress can build up on a daily basis due to school and financial pressures and can be just as damaging as major life events if you do not learn how to release it. How you manage the stressful events in your life will determine whether you feel temporary anxiety or long-term anxiety, relatively short-term sadness and grief, or chronic depression. This is true for physical problems as well. If you find ways to manage your stress you might have only mild stomach or intestinal distress from time to time rather than developing ulcers or colitis. That is to say, if you do not manage the stress in your life on a daily basis, it can have long-term consequences.

People experience stress in different ways. A stressful event for one person might be relatively minor for another person. Also, stress is not necessarily bad. A small or manageable amount of stress might motivate one to achieve and could help them give their best performance. Even anticipated and happy events such as graduation or marriage can be stressful. Again, how you cope emotionally and physically depends on how you perceive the stressful event and what interventions you use on a daily basis.

Our stress reaction is triggered when we perceive danger: whether it is physical danger or emotional danger or both. Our bodies have what is known as a "fight or flight" response which helps you respond quickly if you are suddenly faced with danger. This reponse was helpful to the caveman who had to fight on a regular basis to obtain food and protect his shelter. Unfortunately, our bodies have the same physiological response when we hear a frightening noise or fail to achieve something that is important to us. Anything that we perceive as a threat stimulates our body to respond: the heart rate increases; blood pressure rises; hormones pour into the blood that send sugar to the muscles and brain to mobilize energy; digestive processes are turned off so energy is available elsewhere, and so on. These changes were designed to help us react physically but we rarely need to respond in that way anymore. Therefore our bodies begin to experience wear and tear when these processes are stimulated over and over again with no outlet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

stress management : Being Self-Employed

Being self-employed brings You a
Whole New level of stress Management

being self-employed, or freelancing is a truly unique environment in which to work. Basically, you wake up every morning and "reinvent the wheel." That means that you begin every day knowing that you'll be required to provide your customers with something they feel that they can't live without. That's not an easy thing for your stress level to handle.

being self-employed is synonymous with long hours, and working through those days that you really should have taken off. It means that your stomach is repeatedly in knots and the adrenaline just doesn't flow anymore.

If this describes you, you're not alone.

Working for oneself from home, in front of the computer on weekdays and weekends is becoming evermore popular thanks to the internet and the World Wide Web. However, with this ever growing popularity of independence, comes the increasing build of stress.

Symptoms of high stress in those who are self-employed include:

* The inability to concentrate
* The general feeling of being uptight
* Biting everyone's head off
* Aching shoulders and neck
* A constant headache
* Indecisiveness
* Fatigue
* Insomnia

Of course, these are only a sample of the symptoms, but they are among the most common. If left unmanaged, stress can even develop further into more dangerous health conditions.

For people who are self-employed, proper stress management becomes critical to living a healthy, rewarding life. stress management itself is a matter of recognizing your individual stresses, finding the cause, and taking responsibility for these stresses, making changes where they are necessary.

This can be as simple as taking an aroma therapeutic bubble bath at night, yoga, or something more structured, such as consulting a stress management therapist.

If you are self-employed, and you wish to make certain that your stress level is managed effectively, you may wish to consult your doctor, who can advise you with regards to the techniques and strategies that will work best for you.

by John Baker

stress management : Behaviors Causing Stress

Do you believe in predictions? Well, if you were educated you would know that no man or woman could predict our future. However, we all have the ability to predict our future. Sounds contradictory does it. behaviors help us to determine how our lives will turn out. behaviors are the manner in which we conduct our self on a daily basis. behaviors are organisms that react to stimulus producing action and response.

behaviors are formed when we first arrive in the world and the more we practice a certain behavior the more attached that behavior comes. How does behavior cause us stress? It depends on the person and the teachings the person endured throughout his or her lifetime, but many of us lack in development in one way or another. Since, we have religion, law, parents, teachers, siblings, employees, employers, peers and so forth playing a part in our life we often become confused since all of us have our own beliefs.

The best teacher in the world is your self. If you take the time to study, learn, listen, hear, practice good, and so forth you will have the ability to see your future is successful. You have a stress management that is surpassing any other management scheme, since no one can lead you if you choose to reject. It is good to take other people's beliefs into consideration, however, investigating and collecting evidence that proves a fact is more beneficial than accepting everything your are taught or told.

For example, I am a logician. I take extremely complex problems and break them down to simplicity. This means I analyze each problem carefully weeding through the pile and eliminating any areas that produce negative results. I also collect and gather evidence to support my claims when I am finished, and this is a healthy practiced behaviors, since I do not lie, steal, or do anything that will cause another person harm.

As you can see from my example, my problems were minimized, since my behaviors are positive and my stress level is not controlling my life. We can review behaviors and teachers to grasp hold of a better understanding how behaviors cause stress. For example, his or her parents teach a child that speaking out of term in inappropriate. The child is punished each time he or she disobeys the parent.

We see a series of problems developing, since this teaching will tell the child during his or her development that it is not ok to speak up when someone hurts, violates, or induces other types of fears on this person. The person will go through life with the fear of punishment if he or she asserts self. How can we help this poor wrongfully taught individual find a way to reduce stress and avoid stressors? First, our parents are important people in our life that we believe in most cases that will not lie to us and believe these people have our best interest at heart. Now we see another problem, since this person will trust the parents before listening to someone else that tells him or her that they are safe and it is ok to speak your mind.

We can teach this person to practice self-talk first since self-talk is an approach that helps us to rely on self, rather than others. Self-talk is a method that tells us that we have control and that we have a right to determine what we think, feel and believe. The method teaches us to take responsibility and learn communication that is effective, since our thinking habits are in the process of change. We can also help the person by offering him or her the tool known as visual display.

Visual display is helpful since it allows us to stroll back into the past and review our learning so that we can sort through the facts and eliminate the lies. It teaches us to display a pictorial event in our mind and then role-play to see if what we were taught is true.

Think of a time in your life that you spoke up and no one hurt you or punished you for your action. Think about how many times this happened and what the consequences of your behavior led to. Practice these techniques daily to learn a new method that benefits you and your life. If you do not see prediction by now in behaviors, then you probably never will.

by Burt Cotton

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The main sympathetic neurotransmitter is called noradrenaline which is released a the nerve endings. The stress response also includes the activity of the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands.

The two adrenal glands are located one on top of each kidney. The middle part of the adrenal gland is called the adrenal medulla and is connected to the sympathetic nervous system by nerves. Once the latter system is in action it instructs the adrenal medulla to produce adrenaline and noradrenaline (catecholamines) which are released into the blood supply. The adrenaline prepares the body for flight and the noradrenaline prepares the body for fight. They increase both the heart rate, and the pressure at which the blood leaves the heart; they dilate bronchial passages and dilate coronary arteries; skin blood vessels constrict and there is an increase in metabolic rate. Also gastrointestinal system activity reduces which leads to a sensation of butterflies in the stomach.

Lying close to the hypothalamus in the brain is an endocrine gland called the pituitary. In a stressful situation, the anterior hypothalamus activates the pituitary. The pituitary releases adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) into the blood which then activates the outer part of the adrenal gland, the adrenal cortex. This then synthesises cortisol which increases arterial blood pressure, mobilises fats and glucose from the adipose (fat) tissues, reduces allergic reactions, reduces inflammation and can decrease lymphocytes that are involved in dealing with invading particles or bacteria. Consequently, increased cortisol levels over a prolonged period of time lowers the efficiency of the immune system. The adrenal cortex releases aldosterone which increases blood volume and subsequently blood pressure. Unfortunately, prolonged arousal over a period of time due to stress can lead to essential hypertension.

The pituitary also releases thyroid stimulating hormone which stimulates the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, to secrete thyroxin. Thyroxin increases the metabolic rate, raises blood sugar levels, increases respiration/heart rate/blood pressure/and intestinal motility. Increased intestinal motility can lead to diarrhoea. (It is worth noting that an over-active thyroid gland under normal circumstances can be a major contributory factor in anxiety attacks. This would normally require medication.)

The pituitary also releases oxytocin and vasopressin which contract smooth muscles such as the blood vessels. Oxytocin causes contraction of the uterus. Vasopressin increases the permeability of the vessels to water therefore increasing blood pressure. It can lead to contraction of the intestinal musculature.

If the person perceives that the threatening situation has passed then the parasympathetic nervous system helps to restore the person to a state of equilibrium. However, for many people they perceive everyday of their life as stressful. Unfortunately, the prolonged effect of the stress response is that the body's immune system is lowered and blood pressure is raised which may lead to essential hypertension and headaches. The adrenal gland may malfunction which can result in tiredness with the muscles feeling weak; digestive difficulties with a craving for sweet, starchy food; dizziness; and disturbances of sleep.
Below are some of the symptoms of stress. Please note that these symptoms can also occur with a range of medical or psychological disorders. When in doubt, do consult your doctor or consultant.

Copyright 2000, Stephen Palmer


This article provides an insight into what happens at a physiological level when a person becomes stressed. Although this article may seem rather complicated, it is an oversimplification of what happens. It is suggested that readers interested in increasing their understanding about this topic refer to advanced texts that are available.

The Stress Response
When people perceive that they are in threatening situations that they are unable to cope with, then messages are carried along neurones from the cerebral cortex (where the thought processes occur) and the limbic system to the Hypothalamus. This has a number of discrete parts.

The Anterior Hypothalamus produces sympathetic arousal of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS is an automatic system that controls the heart, lungs, stomach, blood vessels and glands. Due to its action we do not need to make any conscious effort to regulate our breathing or heart beat. The ANS consists of two different systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Essentially, the parasympathetic nervous system conserves energy levels. It increases bodily secretions such as tears, gastric acids, mucus and saliva which help to defend the body and help digestion. Chemically, the parasympathetic system sends its messages by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which is stored at nerve endings.

Unlike the parasympathetic nervous system which aids relaxation, the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for action. In a stressful situation, it quickly does the following:
Increases strength of skeletal muscles
Decreases blood clotting time
Increases heart rate
Increases sugar and fat levels
Reduces intestinal movement
Inhibits tears, digestive secretions.
Relaxes the bladder
Dilates pupils
Increases perspiration
Increases mental activity
Inhibits erection/vaginal lubrication
Constricts most blood vessels but dilates those in heart/leg/arm muscles

Copyright 2000, Stephen Palmer

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

stress management : Music Therapy Healing For Stress

Everyone has stress in their lives. Stress can range from mild to severe. If we let the stress build up without doing anything to relax, our health can be affected. Headaches, diarrhea and gastric problems can be caused by stress. If it is constant and for a long period of time we are putting our health in danger. Serious problems such as heart problems and diabetes could develop.

One way to combat stress is using music therapy. A music therapist views the particular needs of their client. The client and the therapist both are involved in the therapy. Music heightens mental functioning, promotes healing and helps you feel calm and relaxed. It is considered a creative art therapy. Experts propose that it is the rhythm of the music that has a calming effect on us. A therapist encourages the use of different kinds of instruments. One way listening to music can manage the degree of your stress is it relaxes tense muscles. When you feel relaxed, your worries float into the background.

If you listen to music that has affirming lyrics you are feeding your brain positive thoughts. This may make music therapy twice as successful. It will surround you with positive energy instead of negative energy. The positive energy should decrease your stress levels.

Our energetic system is affected by the tone of music. This causes a physical reaction to certain sounds and frequencies. No one likes the same type of music. Whatever you choose to listen to should make you feel comfortable. Listen to your emotions. Make sure your nerves feels soothed. That way you'll know if it is a positive type of music for your individual taste. Fast paced beats can speed up your heart rate and cause difficulty in relaxing your mind. Slow beats or rhythms will slow down your thoughts and you will naturally relax.

There are other ways to listen to music for lessening your stress besides going to a music therapist. Music affects the mood in different situations. If you listen to music when you wake up in the morning, your day might run smoother. When you have a hard day at work, the last thing you probably want to do is to make supper. Put on your favorite music and cooking may seem like a breeze. Taking a walk and listening to music with nature sounds or sounds of the sea can be extremely calming. Slow tones will cause relaxation and is great to hear right before bedtime.

Illness can cause severe stress. Listening to music together with whatever treatment you are receiving can have a strong healing effect on your body. It can also cause your endorphins to raise in your brain. Endorphins are natural painkillers.

Serotonin is a chemical that transmits the nerve signals between nerve cells. If your serotonin levels are to low, you may become depressed. Depression can make the stress in your life seem a lot worse. Music may raise your serotonin levels and lift your depression and stress anxiety.

by Michael Russell

stress management : Five Strategies That Really Work

Please try this experiment right now: Google "how to reduce stress" and notice that about half the entries are essays of the form, "Top [number] Ways to Relieve Stress." It sounds like there are a lot of resources for the stressed-out people in our society, but if you look more closely you'll see that most of them are pretty lightweight. A typical list entry might read:

"Learn to Laugh at Yourself
Don't take yourself so seriously - learn to see the funny side of your predicaments and feel that stress just drain away."
I don't mean to be unkind, but whoever wrote this advice never had to work for a bullying boss who threatened her with firing if she wouldn't sleep with him. There is just no way to see that in a humorous light. So I want to offer my top five list - but these suggestions are all based on solid scientific evidence taken from the field of cognitive psychology. There are going to be harder to achieve on your own, but they will work.

Identify Your Stressors

Even though it seems like everything in your life is causing you stress, the bulk of it probably comes from a few sources: perhaps five or six, and dealing with those stressors will provide enough relief that you the rest of the stress will become manageable. The best way I know to identify your real stressors is to keep a stress journal (you can read more about stress journals here). As you journal your stress experience, you'll start to see a pattern of when your stress increases and what's happening when you get stressed. Those are the stressors you should concentrate on first, because you'll get much more relief for your effort.

Start Taking Control

Stress happens when you're under pressure or in pain and you feel helpless. The last part is important: if you feel like you're in control then you may be afraid or angry, but you won't feel stressed. So if you can start taking charge of your situation, even a little bit, your stress will start to subside. If there's nothing you can do about the big problem you're confronting (like a layoff) then try to take control of a smaller problem. Even if you only clean off your desk or decide not to take work home, you'll start to feel a little less stress.

Build a Support Network

There's lots of research that shows that people who have strong social ties and people they can rely on, survive stress much better than those who try to go it alone. So make sure that you have at least one person you can call at any time who will just listen to your side of the story. He or she doesn't have to fix anything, or even agree with you - he or she just has to listen sympathetically. (But don't use this as a bitching session - when you talk with your support person, just describe what really happened and how you're feeling: save the revenge fantasies for later.)

Eat Well and Exercise

Prolonged stress will wear your health down in many ways, so you have to take extra care of yourself in stressful times. Stress may make you eat more or less than you normally do, but make sure that you're eating a balanced diet, and that you're eating at regular times. Make meals a stress-free moment in your day and eat them with friends and family if you can. Even moderate exercise is effective in clearing the stress hormones out of your body, so try to get a little exercise as soon after the stressful event as you can. You don't need to go to the gym - even taking a five minute walk will help your body return to its rest state.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Telling you to "just ignore the stress" would be stupid advice, because it's a fact of your life. But if you can counteract stressful, anxious thoughts with calming pleasant ones, the stressful thoughts will have less of an effect on you. So when you start worrying about the impending layoff, don't fight the feelings of anxiety. But at the same time, think of something you treasure: your family or your last vacation, or even the game of golf you'll play this evening. The pleasant thoughts will rob the anxious ones of much of their power and you'll get over the anxiety much sooner.

There they are: five techniques you can use to effectively counteract the stress management in your job and life. I know that none of these is easy - they require effort and persistence - but they're a lot more effective than advice like "learn to laugh at yourself."

Take stress seriously - fight back fiercely.

by Bruce Taylor

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

stress management : Breathing to Reduce Stress

Do you realise how important your breathing is? I mean, apart from the fact that it keeps you alive? Do you know that your manner of breathing directly affects your stress levels? Would you like to learn how to use your breath to calm, focus or invigorate you?

Your breath moves the air in and out of our body. If you do not inhale completely, the necessary oxygen does not reach the necessary organs. If you do not exhale properly, the stale air stays in the body and affects your breathing, your concentration and your health.

I want you to do a simple test:

Place your left hand palm down over your belly button. Now place your right hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in…and out… Focus on your hands.

What moved? Did your left hand move when you inhaled? Did it move in our out?

If your stomach moves inwards when you inhale, you are not breathing as your body intended.

If your stomach inflates when you inhale, you are breathing correctly.

Your right hand is not supposed to move. Your chest should only move minimally if at all.

It is easily remembered if you visualise a balloon in your tummy. When you inhale, inflate the balloon When you exhale, deflate the balloon.

As babies we breathe like this and then somewhere along the line someone tells us to pull our stomachs in when we inhale.

Now we need to unlearn a pattern that has formed over many years.

Practise breathing properly whenever you are stressed or want to relax (before bed is good).

Inhale and make your belly as round as you can. I call this my Buddha belly ;) Then exhale using your stomach muscles to push the air out End by having your stomach drawn in and abs tight

Practise this breathing for 3 minutes a day and within weeks your subconscious will start to adopt the new habit.

I guarantee your stress will be easier to manage and your mind more clear to focus on what you need to.

by Lana Rolfe

stress management : The Best Article on Stress Management

Have you been looking for an article on stress management that could really make a difference in your life? Are you tired of the exhaustion, fatigue and irritability that have now become a way of life for you in how you relate to stress?

This article on stress management isn’t your usual top 10 list of what to do. I’d like you and I to shift our focus and attention on who you are choosing to be that is really fueling what you are doing.

I know you are pretty sure that your stress is caused by all external factors, but it’s really more important to look at how you are relating to what you identify as stress internally. Let’s face it, we only have so much control over our external environment and 100% control over our internal one. This maybe a new concept to you, but I assure you it’s a powerful one if you want to feel the freedom and power that managing stress can provide.

Have you ever heard of the concept “Be, Do, Have”? It can be revolutionary in your life if you haven’t. Most of us live our lives out of the concept of “Do, Have, Be” which is extremely stressful because we are trying to do, do, do in order to have what we want so that we can then be how we want to be. This is backwards and futile. I mean really aren’t you exhausted, fatigued, irritable, and still don’t have what you truly want?

Shifting your focus away from what you want to have to who you want to be can eliminate a lot of stress and start bringing forth that which you desire. The following exercise can give you a start on this path. Take out a blank piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle of it so that you have 2 columns. On the right side column write at the top of it “What do I want?” Now, make a list of everything you want to have from the most mundane to the most profound. After you have completed that, at the top of the first column write “Who would I be being to have what I want? One by one go through the list of what you said you wanted and ask yourself the above question. Write down the answer in the first column. Can you see that you don’t have to know what to do if you focus on who you are being? If you focus on who you are being, you will become that and the actions to take will readily be available to you. This eliminates a lot of stress.

by Pamela Catey

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