Stress Project: Stress Management

Relaxation

“The act of relaxing or state of being relaxed.” (Barber, K., Fitzgerald, H., Howell, T., & Pontisso, R., 2005)

There are many different ways to relax, including (but not limited to), meditation, deep breathing, yoga, music and getting a massage done. They are all proven to be helpful but one might work better than the other, depending on the individual and the stressor.

Meditation “A practice of increased concentration that leads to increased awareness; a solitary practice of reflection on internal rather than external stimuli.” (Seaward, 2012)
Deep breathing “Inhaling and exhaling with long breaths.” (Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon, n.d.)
Yoga “A Sanskrit word that means union, specifically the union of mind, body and spirit.”
Massage “A relaxation technique; the manipulation of skin, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue for the purpose of releasing muscle tension and increasing physical comfort of musculature and surrounding joints.”
Music therapy “The ability to listen to, sing, or perform music as a means to promote relaxation and homeostasis.” (Seaward, 2012)

Meditation is the practice of training the mind to minimize external and internal distractions, and uncluttering the mind to become more focused and mindful. This will help limit information overload, general overthinking, or anything else that interferes with clear thinking and concentration.

Hatha yoga is a series of movements to promote inner peace and a state of calmness, by removing one’s ego from the experience. There are three components of yoga: deep breathing, conscious stretching, and balancing on counter-positions. You can take yoga classes or learn how to do it yourself.

Massage therapy is the act of someone massaging you in hopes to relieve muscle tension due to stress and also provides physical comfort. Massages relax the mind, body and spirit.  It is natural for humans to want and need physical touch.  Professional contact, such as a massage therapist can give us that sense of touch that we may be missing in our daily lives.  This can also relieve any stress. During and immediately after the massage, the body is in a state of complete physical relaxation.

Music therapy has a positive affect on relaxation.  Sounds, tones, instruments, rhythm etc. all have a pleasing affect on the body. It puts a person in a different state of mind.  It has a positive affect on moods and attitude, and decreases symptoms of sadness. Loud music helps people release built up anger, whereas slow music has a calming affect.

Deep breathing is one of the easiest, quickest techniques to help decrease stress (and anxiety). It can also be done anywhere, anytime. Focused, directed breathing tends to calm the nervous system that control some of the body functions.  It can help decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and reduce levels of stress hormones. This all can increase relaxation. Deep breathing can also bring your awareness away from stress (and anxiety) and quiet your thoughts by you focusing on the exercise and the rhythm of your breathing. There are lots of different breathing exercises available and they all have the same effects. Preference depends on the individual.

Exercise

“Activity requiring physical effort, done esp. to sustain or improve health.” (Barber, K., Fitzgerald, H., Howell, T., & Pontisso, R., 2005)

There are many benefits of physical activity. These include the following psychological and physiological benefits.

Physiological Psychological
·         Decreases resting heart rate and blood pressure

·         Reduces muscle tension

·         Better sleep

·         More resistance to illness

·         Increases efficiency of the heart

·         Reduces body fat

·         Improves self-esteem

·         Increases sense of self-efficacy

·         Improves mental alertness, perception, and information processing

·         Reduces anxiety and depression

·         Reduces overall stress and tension

Here are four different types of exercises, examples, and a simple explanation of what each type does to the body:

Types Examples What it does
Aerobic (also called endurance activity) Running, swimming, bicycling, jumping jacks Moves large muscles
Muscle strengthening Push-ups, sit-ups, weights, climbing Improves strength and power of muscles
Bone strengthening Running, jumping rope, lifting weights Muscles push against bones to make them stronger
Stretching Touching toes, side stretches, yoga Improves flexibility and ability to move joints

The best way to get started with exercising is creating your own personal fitness training program to figure out what your goals are and what the process is to get there. It is best to start slow and easy then working your way up. A common mistake people make is doing too much, too fast. It can result in burnout and injury.

Here are some steps you should follow:

  1. Start slow and make your way up
  1. Pick exercises/activities you enjoy
  1. Set times and days to exercise
  1. Use the right clothes and equipment
  1. Initiate or join a support group
  1. Set fitness goals for yourself
  1. Prevent and take care of injuries right away

Support System

“A network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support.” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)

There are many outlets where you can go to seek support. It can be support from friends, social groups, professionals, distress/crisis lines, support groups or online chat rooms/discussion boards.

Support from friends can be very beneficial. It is very comforting to know that someone has your back and will always be there for you. It will give you a sense of belonging, self-worth and security. It will make you feel like less alone. Good friends will listen, give advice and encouragement.

Professional support can be very helpful because of their expertise and confidentiality. They are somebody that will listen and guide you, and have no right to judge or talk down on you. They are qualified and trained to help get to the root of your problems and help you make positive changes so that you can overcome your problems. They are also trained on different types of techniques, such as, cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnosis.


References

American Institute of Stress. (2012). Take A Deep Breath. Retrieved from  http://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/

Barber, K., Fitzgerald, H., Howell, T., & Pontisso, R. (2005). Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English. Canada: Oxford University Press.

Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). Breathing to reduce stress. Better Health Channel. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/breathing-to-reduce-stress

Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon. (n.d.). Deep breathing. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/deep-breathing

Healthline Editorial Team. (2014). Coping with Stress. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/stress-help

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Social support: Tap this tool to beat stress. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/social-support/art-20044445

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). support system. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/support%20system

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2015). Types of Physical Activity. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys/types

Seaward, B. (2012). Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2016). Finding a Therapist Who Can Help You Heal. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/finding-a-therapist-who-can-help-you-heal.htm

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