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Stress relax F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions

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There's an enormous amount of info available on stress management and relaxation and the related mind/body/heart/spirit topics. This page is expected to grow considerably. Come back and visit it for new tips, articles, techniques, theories, links and more
Relaxation techniques <> Stress Management techniques.
There's a difference between stress management and relaxation.
Stress management helps you to:
  • avoid the stressors in your life you can avoid(ones you create and ones you face)
  • learn to re-interpret "stuff" in your life so it is no longer viewed as stressful
  • minimize your REACTIONS to stressors you can't avoid. These reactions can be emotional, physical, or mental.
Relaxation Training helps you to
  • learn to keep your mind and body quiet.... or energized, but with maximal efficiency.
  • to maximize your energy resources,
  • manage how you use energy, so when you respond to stress, you only use what you need, since one of he biggest problems caused by an excessive stress response is the un-producive use of energy to tense muscles and over-arouse your nervous systems.

Some stress management tips:
  • Check yourself often. Don't get obsessive about it, but throughout the day, check to see if your muscles are as relaxed as they can be. Take a deep, slow breath, and let go. Don't take more than 30-60 seconds to do this. With practice you can do it in 15 seconds.

FAQ 1) If I learn to relax, will it me make me too easy going, so I won't be energetic, creative or aggressive at my work?

BF Skinner discussed, in his book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, how a person born in a prison becomes accustomed to the prison walls. A person with a stress disorder becomes accustomed to the constriction of affective experience and expression which is often associated with stress or chronic illness, particularly pain.

In my workshops, when I talk about Smile activation and training, I usually mention how there is a risk, with the simplification of relaxation training, to teach the patient to make a dead face-- with intentionally inhibited, flaccid facial muscles.

It's important, in working with facial relaxation training-- a routine element in biofeedback relaxation training-- to remember that goal of facial muscle relaxation training is to quiet the muscle which reflect mental activity. You are using a wide frontalis EMG placement or SMR training or alpha training to quiet the mental activity, which leads to autonomic and musculoskeletal quieting.
It is a mistake to teach the client to shut off the face. That's why I recommend at least one session where smile muscle training is included-- with placement on the zygomaticus. You can easily demonstrate to a client that if he or she smiles, then lets go of the smile, the frontalis muscle activity will usually decrease from before to after.

Effective relaxation training is an important step in helping clients to expand their emotional intelligence. You need to be able to create an emotional tabla raza upon which emotions can be expressed. If there is too much high-stress "noise" then the common result is emotional flattening or alexithymia-- inability to express or feel emotions.

The purpose of this training is not to teach the person to permanently shut off the stress response. A Fortune 10 once fired one of the country's most famous psychologists for teaching stress management because they thought he was taking the "edge" off their salesmen. The goal is to teach peolpe to expand their repertoire of responses to stressors, and to increase the nervous system and physiological stability of the client. This allows the client to have a bigger, more diversified psychophysiological emotional pallette to pain his life picture with.

When I introduce clients to biofeedback, I routinely discuss the energy concept in self regulation. Stress managment and biofeedback don't shut off your energy so you are a passive wimp. They help you to fine tune your emergency stress responses so you use your energy more efficiently. If you want to put your passion and energy into your work-- to get excited about it, you can do a more effective, more impassioned job if you prune off the excess muscle tensing that does nothing to move you forward.

The outcome of a well tuned relaxation training program is more energy, clearer mental and emotional clarity and expression and a broader spectrum of consciousness within one can effectively operate.
FAQ 2: Why does stress affect me more and differently than other people?
Stress response patterns and intensities are like other genetically determined traits such as hair color, nose shape, skin color, etc. Some people secrete more stomach acid, others tense muscles, others experience blood pressure increases. That's why it is helpful to know different kinds of relaxation and mind/body quieting responses. Some work better for one body mind system than another.

 

FAQ 3: What are some common relaxation techniques?

Autogenic training, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Various breathing techniques, guided imagery, Open Focus, Sensory Awareness, Quieting Response, self-hypnosis.

FAQ 4: Now, how are these different from taking a nap, taking a warm bath, a soak in the hot tub, laying on the beach, or a quiet stroll in the park? And why are they better 4 stress management?

The relaxation techniques can be done, after practice, on-the-spot, just about anywhere. The other relaxing approaches force you to leave your work or whatever you are doing. Stress is usually inconvenient. It comes when you are working or taking care of your kids, or doing something so you can't leave. The Techniques listed in FAQ 3 allow you to keep on going, doing your responsibilities.

 

more questions:

From a college student in Virginia:
In general, I find that young adults do not feel that we should be
concerned about the effects of stress on our health. For people between the ages of 18 and 25, there is almost a feeling of invincibility as far as
health is concerned. Yet for the working student, high stress is often the
norm. Please comment on this. What do you feel are the short term and long term effects of these high stress levels for young adults? Do you feel like young adults should be more proactively addressing stress levels in their lives?

Answer:

It's true. young adults tend to feel immortal. They deal with stress by partying, drinking, using drugs, or perhaps, by numbing out, losing contact with feelings-- or at least positive feelings. Then they get irritable, easily angered, cold hearted.
One response to this, besides drugs, is to engage in extreme activities-- sports, high risk activities, gambling-- these are efforts to feel more "alive."

Young adults can more proactively address the potential for adverse responses to stress by learning self calming and quieting techniques which allow them to connect with the subtle, sensitive side of their selves-- which allow them to smell the roses, express and receive love.

 

Question:
Their are many products on the market for stress relief. I recently
purchased an indoor waterfall, and I have noticed a general attitude
improvement. I realize that this could be purely psychological, but the
fact that I fall asleep so much faster when it is on leads me to believe
that it must have some calming effect. In stores, audio-therapy stress
relievers are abound, and many claim that they help. Please comment on
these so called stress-relieving commodities. Do they really help, or are
they just another way to make money?

Answer:
Anything that quiets your environment, your body, your mind can help. The waterfall makes a soothing, steady sound, perhaps masking more annoying, intrusive sounds. That's why new age type music can be helpful. Guided relaxation and imagery tapes can be valuable, inexpensive approaches to quieting your inner self as well as your body.

Stress managment can be as as simple as learning to meditate, breath quietly or simple biofeedback, like handwarming, which you can do using a thermometer costing a dollar or less.