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Strategies and Techniques: other techniques/strategies to reduce stress.
Individual therapy is amount the most effective ways of reducing stress, even when the source of stress is chronic pain or chronic disease. In fact, in a study of patients with HIV, therapy was more helpful than support groups for improving well-being and quality of life.
A typical therapy approach includes identifying sources of stress, restructuring priorities, changing one's response to stress, and finding methods for managing and reducing stress.
One key component in most therapy approaches is a diary that keeps an informal inventory of daily events and activities. While this exercise might itself seem stress producing (and yet one more chore), it need not be done in painstaking detail. A few words accompanying a time and date are usually enough to serve as reminders of significant events or activities.
The first step is to note activities that put a strain on energy and time, trigger anger or anxiety, or precipitate a negative physical response (such as a sour stomach or headache). Jot down whatever you notice in terms of thoughts, feelings, and/or body sensations.
Also note positive experiences, such as those that are mentally or physically refreshing or produce a sense of accomplishment. Again jot down whatever you notice in terms of thoughts, feelings and/or body sensations.
After a week or two, try to identify two or three events or activities that have been significantly upsetting or overwhelming. Make an action plan to deal with these events or activities, or bring these to the attention of your therapist to help you.
Questioning the Sources of Stress:
Individuals should then ask themselves the following questions:
- Do these stressful activities meet my goals or someone else's?
- Have I taken on tasks that I can reasonably accomplish?
- Which tasks are under my control and which ones aren't?
This strategy is to attempt to shift the balance from stress-producing to stress-reducing activities to your life. Eliminating stress is rarely practical or feasible, but there are many ways to reduce its impact.
Consider as many relief options as possible. Examples include:
- Listen to music. Music is an effective stress reducer in both healthy individuals and people with health problems. In one study, for example, students who listened to a well-known gentle classical piece of music during a stressful task had reduced feels of anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure
- Take long weekends or ideally, vacations
- If the source of stress is in the home, plan times away, even if it is only an hour or 2 a week
- Replace unnecessary time-consuming chores with pleasurable or interesting activities
- Make time for recreation. This is as essential as paying bills or shopping for groceries
- Own a pet. In a study of people with high blood pressure, pet owners had much lower blood pressure increase in response to stress than non-owners. Note that owning a pet was only beneficial for people who like animals to begin with.