Do Stress Management Programs Work?

Stress does not respect age, gender, wealth, ethnicity, ability, IQ, EG, the great, the good or anything else for that matter!  Everyone I know suffers stress at some point in their lives.  Absolutely everyone.  And as far as I can make out, they only differ from each other in two respects: the extent to which they suffer and what they choose to do about it. 

But if you consider this more closely, even these two differences are actually only one difference.  Think about it.  If you suffer a lot with stress, maybe because you perceive everything you are up against to be stressful, and yet you do nothing to actively reduce it then you will remain in a highly stressed out state.  

Conversely, if you are highly stressed and you do consider it to be important enough to do something about, you will follow stress management program successfully and become less stressed.

I suppose naysayers will say something like – “just change your perception of stress”.  Deciding to be less stressed is definitely a way forward.  But have you honestly ever changed your belief system at a time of high stress?  Me either. 

Changing your belief system is not an easy process.  It takes time and energy.  And whilst you are feeling the pressure, if you perceive different situations to be stressful, you will struggle to change your perceptions. 

So actually the only difference between people who suffer continual high stress and those who come through it is the latter group’s decision to take action to reduce their stress.

And that is the million dollar answer to the question I posted at the top.  Stress management programs DO work.  But YOU have to work them.

If you’ve got any personal experiences or success stories, feel free to add them below.

Stress Relief – You Need To Sleep on it

Today’s modern world is a high stress environment.  With world news coming at you 24/7, it can be difficult to switch off and relax.  But that is exactly what you must do if you are ever going to reduce your stress levels.

High stress levels lead to difficulty sleeping.  And a lack of sufficient quality sleep causes an increase in the body’s stress levels.  In fact experts believe that around 8 hours quality sleep every night is necessary for adults to function properly.  Anything less than that can lead to chronic stress, and worse.  Stress is thought to be a significant factor in over 60 different medical conditions, including stroke, panic attacks and heart disease.

Sleep allows the body to rest, relax and unwind.  It allows the necessary escape from the body’s stress “fight or flight” response.  It is so important that the body interprets insufficient sleep as extremely stressful.  And if you are stressed, you get fitful, restless sleep.  So if you are not getting enough sleep, you become more and more stressed and when you are stressed you get less quality sleep.  It is a downward spiral! 

Here are five things you can do tonight to help ensure you get a restful night’s sleep:

1.    Read more

Reading is a great way to relax as it makes you slow down the pace of your life, takes your mind off every day things and allows your breathing to deepen.  All of which allows you to release pent up stress and puts you in the right frame of mind to drift gently off to sleep.  And if you are anything like me, you have a stack of books you have always wanted to “read someday”.  Start tonight.  Just think of all those books you’ll get through!

2.    Enjoy A Good Soak In The Bath

At bedtime, nothing beats a relaxing bath for letting the worries of the day float away.  A hot bath raises your core temperature so that when you get out, your core temperature gradually falls again.  And as it falls, you naturally begin to feel drowsy.  So not long after your hot bath, you feel sleepy.  Bliss!

3.    Get Rid Of the T.V

Many people watch TV in their bedrooms these days; and may even fall asleep whilst watching it.  This means their minds never enter a sufficiently stress free and relaxed state for restful sleep.  Take the TV out of the bedroom.  You will find that you are more ready for sleep when you actually do go to bed; you will fall asleep faster and will get more restful sleep as a result. 

4.    Reserve the Bedroom for Sleep and Sex

If you want to sleep better and reduce your stress levels, keep the bedroom space for sleep and sex only.  You will start to feel calmer and more relaxed whenever you enter the bedroom if you do.  Restful sleep will be inevitable.

5.    Stick To A Bedtime

Developing a restful sleeping routine will lower your stress levels and help you sleep more naturally.  Experts believe you need an optimal 8 hours sleep.  So if you need to be up at 7am, then you need to be asleep at 11pm.  This may mean going to bed at 10:30pm.  Stick to your bedtime and rise time every day.  Your body will respond by getting back into a regular sleep pattern, and you will have more restful sleep.

These tips will help significantly reduce your stress levels and will also help you get more sleep.  Give them a go.  You’ll be amazed at the results!