Stress management - addressing the source

Dr. Purushothaman
October 16, 2013

Stress management skills can be developed over time wherein one learns to live with the fact that there will be stressful situations.
Stresses induced by modern day living habits takes a serious toll on the well being of families everywhere. Deadlines to meet at the workplace, financial obligations to be met at the home front, relationship issues, parenting issues and the like have caused a lot of havoc in a lot of people's lives. News articles and magazines are filled with stress induced fatigue and stress induced senseless actions taken by people in all kinds of stressful situations. And this stress is not limited to any specific geographical region, any specific people or any specific age group. Stress seems to be affecting not only adults in the prime of their lives, but also the elderly and children of both sexes male and female. Management of stress is extremely important at this juncture in our society and unfortunately this is not something that is taught in schools and universities. While this article cannot encompass all aspects of stress management, we will deal here only with one aspect of stress management and that is addressing the source of stress.

Stress management is usually associated with yoga or meditation and other relaxation exercises. While mind calming techniques such as deep breathing and calming scene visualizations do play an important role in stress reduction, in the opinion of the author, stress reduction is different from stress management. To associate stress reduction with stress management is akin to saying reducing your household expenses is the same as home finance management; sure reducing the expenses will certainly help, but that is not management.

Stress management invokes the use of techniques to manage stress, with the full awareness that you cannot lead a stress free life in the modern world and run to the mountains. Hence the first step in stress management is the acceptance that there will be factors that push your limits and introduce stress levels in your day to day life. Now, once that is accepted, you can proceed to manage it. Management of stress involves first of all finding the source of the stress and addressing the source rather than the result which is the stress. For example, because there is a tight deadline for you to meet for some project at work, you may get stressed; in this case, the source of stress is the deadline at work; you need to manage your resources, time, people, etc to ensure that you will meet this deadline and you would have managed the stress effectively.

Another example here; let's say you are in the process of buying a house and your finances are really not in great shape to purchase this house; you are getting stressed all over. In this case, you need to identify that purchasing the house is not the source of stress, rather it is your bad financial management that is the culprit; you have one of two choices, you can face the reality and back off buying this property until you get all your financial ducks in a row or you can opt to buy a lesser valued home. The house project may suffer, but you would have mitigated the stress from buying the house when your finances are terrible. As you can see from these two examples, addressing the source of the stress many times involves being completely honest with yourself and facing reality the way it is instead of hiding behind the curtain of imaginary bliss.

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