Stress is a physical, mental, and emotional response to a challenging event. The stress response, often referred to as the fight-or-flight response, occurs automatically when you feel threatened. Stress, whether positive or negative, is a normal part of everyone’s life. Negative stress, however, diminishes your quality of life.
Stress management uses a range of approaches to help you deal with stress and adversity. Stress management might include problem-solving, prioritization, and time management. Another approach includes enhancing skills to withstand adverse situations by improving emotional flexibility, finding greater meaning in life, increasing the sense of control, and cultivating optimism. A third approach is to practice relaxing techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise, and prayer. Improving personal relationships is an important component of stress management.
Stress management can help you lead a more balanced, healthier life. When channeled positively, stress can lead to growth, action and change.
For managing stress, University Internal Medicine and Integrative Health provides or teaches:
- Acupuncture. Insertion of fine needles in the skin at key points in your body to boost your body’s natural painkillers and increase blood circulation.
- Counseling. Discussion of life and health-related stresses with a medical professional to develop coping skills that address feelings, illnesses, and challenging situations.
- Deep breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm to establish a pattern of slower, deeper, and more efficient breathing.
- Meditation. A practice that calms and focuses the mind, tuning out distractions, sometimes involving repeating a word or phrase, or visualizing a peaceful place.
- Yoga. Various types of mind-body practices that combine a series of precise postures with controlled breathing to help relax your mind and increase strength and flexibility.
Stress reduction uses techniques such as meditation and yoga to cultivate awareness and lessen stress. It is based on the ancient practice of mindfulness, which is about waking up, being fully alive, and being present in the richness of each moment of our lives. Within this awakening, we gain access to our deepest inner resources for living, healing, and coping with stress. In our program, participants practice present moment awareness, deep relaxation, and gentle movement. Through these techniques, a person learns to discover and observe his or her reactions to life’s stressors, and choose how to respond. With practice, one can apply these skills to everyday situations and connect more fully with core principles such as gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning, and forgiveness.
Stress reduction programs similar to ours have been offered in the United States and around the world for more than 20 years, and thousands of people have participated. This approach can help people coping with medical problems, job or family-related stress, anxiety, and depression. The majority of participants report lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms. Pain levels improve, and people learn to better cope with pain that may not go away. Most people also report an increased ability to relax, greater enthusiasm for life, improved self-esteem, and increased ability to cope with stressful situations. Stress reduction is a complement, not a substitute, for medical treatments a person may be receiving and should not be used in place of medical care.