(. . . continued from Part 1 of 6, where we looked at understanding and defining what stress is)
Are You Really Managing Stress?
Some of the “techniques” that many people have learned for managing stress are inappropriate. These are really pseudo-stress management techniques. They are NOT the real deal! Examples:
- “I need to relax, so I smoke a cigarette and drink some coffee.” Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants, so there is not much potential here for true relaxation. They may alter your mood because they stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, but this is not the same as relaxation. Smoking also adds a variety of other stresses to our bodies and greatly impacts the potential development of chronic disease. And just so that nonsmokers don’t become too smug, chocolate and colas also introduce stimulants into our bodies.
- “I’m really stressed, so I’ll eat some ________ (fill in the blank with whatever your indulgence may be). Eating “junk” food and overeating adds to the amount of weight we carry with us and negatively stresses us. In addition, many of these highly processed foods contain additives and large amounts of refined sugar that can be harmful to our health.
- “I’m too stressed to exercise. I’ll watch tv.” Watching television usually increases our level of agitation because it offers us no physical outlet for the stimulation we experience.Exercise is one of the great stress relievers; even just going for a walk. Exercise is a physical response to a physical problem.
Real stress management techniques elicit the Relaxation Response. They reduce your:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Muscular tension, and
- Breathing rate
It is really pretty easy to determine if something is beneficial in helping you manage your stress. Make sure you are using things that actually elicit the Relaxation Response.
Be good to you!
(continued in Part 3 of 6, where we increase our awareness of stress with the Stress Warning Signals Inventory . . .)
Copyright © 2012 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.
•Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.
Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary also possesses Master level training in Reiki, a hands-on healing therapy. Gary Flegal is also a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.
Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site: www.GaryFlegal.com.
Gary, as someone who has lived with very high levels of stress for many years I have come to appreciate the true nature of relaxation. I learned concentrated relaxation techniques and bio-feedback techniques as a teenager. Those along with my favorite activities have really been beneficial over the years. Thank you for writing about stress in real life and not about the “thought paths” and other nonsense that people keep telling me will “help”. It is “all in our head” but not how people think it is . . . . 🙂
Thanks for your comment. I hope what I share continues to be helpful.