Stress Management


Coping with stress

Coping with Stress 

In everyday life, the pressures on people are colossal and most people find themselves having to find ways of coping with stressful situations in their everyday lives.

Two major components of stress are:

physiological arousal system

perception of situation

Two ways to reduce stress :

Biological approach

Psychological approach 

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A biological approach might involve drugs or biofeedback, for example.

A psychological approach involves psychotherapy to change cognitive and emotional responses to situations.

It has been found that women tend to use more emotional strategies - changing the way they think about a situation - to try to cope with stress, while men tend to focus more on changing the situation they see as a problem.

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biological approaches

Biological Approaches 

Coping with stress - biological approaches

These methods of dealing with stress focus on ways to minimize and control the body's alarm reactions by direct intervention in the body's chemistry.

These methods are appropriate for people in acute stress states or those who need rapid treatment because they may be vulnerable to heart attack, stroke or blood pressure problems.

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Drug treatments may include the use of anti-anxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepines (BZs). Benzodiazepines are also known as 'tranquillizers'; examples are Valium, Librium and Mogadon. These drugs can reduce general arousal and anxiety levels and also help to treat insomnia. There is a danger that people may develop dependence on these drugs.

Other drugs used to treat symptoms of stress include beta-blockers. These can reduce levels of physiological arousal, heart rate and blood pressure.

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The person holds a monitor to measure pulse and blood pressure - they then practice meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce their level of arousal. The results are fed back to them by computer so that they can see how well they are doing. In this way, a person can learn to control their level of physiological arousal, reducing the effects of stress.

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Stress Inoculation Training

Stress Inoculation Training is a cognitive- behavioural approach providing people with added psychological resilience against the effects of stress through a program of managed successful exposure to stressful situations. The approach was developed by Donald Meichenbaum

The program usually comprises three phases:

  • The Conceptualisation Phase - learning to conceptualise and reconceptualise stress.
  • Skills Acquisition & Rehearsal Phase - inc. problem solving, cog. restructuring & guided self dialogue. It is important to understand that stress cannot be effectively managed by adopting a ‘cookbook approach’. But that stressors need to be appraised and a range of coping options are available to the individual who can decide how best to employ them.
  • Application & follow through Phase - staff are encouraged to write ‘coping contracts’ and undertake homework in order to ensure responsibility for their own wellbeing.
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