For the majority of us, stress management is at the core of many of the presenting symptoms we treat. We know how to work with the psychological aspects of stress, but it helps to provide some other stress tips too. You can teach your patients to incorporate these into their everyday lives and to effectively prevent adverse stress from building up in the first place.
Remember: Eustress is good stress. It helps us to function effectively and to meet deadlines. It gets adrenaline and endorphins moving and can prove to be motivational.
However, when we start to interpret the eustress situation as threatening that's when good stress becomes bad with the resulting potential damage to psychological and physiological health.
Create a regular pattern of relaxation: A day at work can be a day filled with challenges - some of which can be intense. Our body responds to these challenges by releasing adrenaline, tensing up and increasing the heart rate. The easiest way to counter this stress response is to learn to relax.
- Teach your patients simple breathing techniques such as 7/11 breathing (repeatedly breathing in through your nose for seven seconds and breathing out through your nose for 11 seconds)
- Teach your patients to become aware of muscular tension through direct suggestion and to trigger a relaxation response with a cue word such as 'relax'
- Encourage your patient to practice self-hypnosis
- It is also useful to network and refer your patients for massage, aromatherapy etc.
Get mobile: Encourage your patient's to 'break the state' by getting up and walking away from the desk.
- At lunch get out of the office and go for a walk.
- When on the phone, get up and walk around.
This will exercise and stretche various muscle groups and help prevent the build-up of tension.
Create a regular pattern of exercise: Walking, running, swimming, working out at the gym etc. all work off the effects stress. However, be aware that playing competitive games can sometimes add to stress.
- Remember that after the exercise should come relaxation: sitting in a sauna or steam room for example, or practicing self-hypnosis.
- Whenever encouraging anyone to increase their exercise always ensure that they are fit to do so - a physical checkup at their doctors should be encouraged.
Learn how to stretch: Sitting at a desk all day can lead to muscles and tendons becoming stiff. Learning stretching exercises is a great way of releasing the accumulated tension.
Music can soothe the savage beast: If possible, listening to calming music at work can help a person to relax and concentrate.
Lighten up: Environmental lighting at your work place is important and can reduce eyestrain. Soft, indirect lighting is far better than harsh bright light.
Look at something relaxing: Pleasant photos, artwork, even a plant can provide a relaxing and peaceful focus of attention.
- Encourage your patient to focus away from their computer screen or paperwork at regular intervals and focus on a pleasant object. This will give their eyes and mind some needed relaxation.
Be organised: A neater desk can reduce stress as untidiness can unconsciously stimulate a sense of being overwhelmed.
- A tidy desk can bring a sense of order to a stressed mind that helps a person to feel as if they are coping better.
Create 'me' time: We work to live, not live to work. Creating 'me' time can allow a persons mind to switch off from the stresses and tensions of the day. When they get back to the hurly burly of the working day their mind is clearer and fresher and stimulates a sense of coping.
- Make sure 'me' time refers to me! That means doing something for yourself. Setting aside half an hour to do something that you like and enjoy is invaluable.
Eat and drink healthily: Food is the fuel that keeps us going. A regular healthy eating pattern helps to keep the body in good condition.
- Remember to encourage your patient to take a healthy option when eating. The quality of the fuel you take in is reflected in the quality of the energy you put out.