Mastering Stress, Finding Balance and Calm

Learning skills to address:

  • Arousal and tension reduction
  • Attention training
  • Motivation and goal setting
  • Relationship skills

Over the past thirty years, I have been involved in teaching / coaching individuals and groups with stress-related disorders to help them reduce their stress response that aggravate medical symptoms. These stress-related disorders have included tension and migraine headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, anger, chronic pain, ulcers, and numerous other disorders.

Reducing stress-related disorders always involves an individual stress management plan. This plan includes learning and applying various skills and techniques, awareness, and lifestyle choices. Generally, stress management / self-regulation planning involves assessment of stress response, as well as identification of stressors and training goals.

Among the skills commonly learned in stress management training are relaxation, biofeedback, and other applied psychophysiological skills. Awareness training to increase attention to the mind-body connection is always emphasized, which enables an individual to understand how thoughts and emotions have impacted their stress response. Attention is also directed to problem solving skills and reducing conflicts in relationships. The goal has always been to help people move from “distress” toward learning ways to achieve and maintain wellness to allow them to enjoy a better quality of life.

Once an individual has mastered the skills needed to identify and control the symptoms of stress, the focus moves to prevention and increasing awareness of lifestyle adjustments prior to exhibiting stress symptoms.

Successful stress-management should be viewed as an ongoing, dynamic, proactive process throughout one’s life.

Learning stress management skills is an ever important element in all of our lives. Developing these skills involves several important stages—Increasing awareness of the symptoms related to stress is the first stage. Ignoring these early warning signs may lead to stress-related disorders. These symptoms may affect behavior, emotion, cognition, or physical well-being. Learning to control these stress-related symptoms is the next step. There are numerous techniques which can be learned and successfully used to control the symptoms of stress. Among them are effective problem solving, communication, being proactive, relaxation, diet, exercise, and other positive lifestyle changes.

In the early 1980s, I began offering stress management classes and workshops because I recognized the value in learning stress management skills before a stress-related disorder pattern developed. Today at Fairbanks Biofeedback & Counseling, I continue to enjoy teaching and working with people who are seeking to reduce stress and overcome stress-related disorders by encouraging an ongoing awareness and attention to the mind-body—our best biofeedback.

Consider this excerpt from Cascade Industrial Health, “Wellness in the Workplace”:

Dr. Hans Selye, our greatest authority on stress, states: “Stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it.” Each person reacts differently to the demands of life (stressors), but there are some common reactions. Following are some stages of common distress reactions, from the mild to the serious. Check those that are common or frequent in your life. (One or more times per week.)

STAGE I

  • Nervous sweat
  • Smoking
  • Sweaty palms
  • Tense Muscles
  • Feeling anxious
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Feeling “on edge”
  • Increased heartrate
  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Overeating
  • Irritability
  • Worrying
  • Facial tension
  • Feeling “uptight”
  • Short tempered
  • Crying
STAGE II

  • Tight Abdominals
  • Quivery Stomach
  • Stomach Ache, Cramps
  • Feeling “shaky”
  • Intense Anger
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent Colds
  • Cramps in legs or arms
  • Drinking alcohol to relax
  • “Not myself” at home
  • Do not enjoy my work
  • Backache
  • Chronic tension in neck & shoulders
  • Nervousness
  • Severe/chronic headaches
  • Hassles with supervisor/co-workers
STAGE III

  • Depression
  • Rage is frequent
  • Excess weight
  • Stomach in knots
  • Heart pains
  • Lowering self-esteem
  • Diarrhea
  • Migraine headaches
  • Colitis
  • Skin Eruptions
  • Hate to go to work
  • Exhaustion
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • Loss of sexual desire or response
STAGE IV

  • Heart attack
  • Frequent serious accidents
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Ulcers
  • Strokes
  • Ulcerative Colitis

Persons who find themselves experiencing the distress of symptoms listed in Stages II and III are prime candidates for serious illness listed in Stage IV and may regard these as warning signals from their body.

Reference: Cascade Industrial Health, Wellness in the Workplace.