Stress Management Training

For several years, stress management training workshops and seminars have been offered to employees, especially those who work at large corporations that can afford these types of opportunities as a benefit. However, the company's motives aren't necessarily purely altruistic. Upper-level managers often find that such training sessions improve employee morale and increase employee efficiency. Both these factors can have a positive effect on a company's bottom line. Particularly in difficult times, such as after a major disaster or during economic downturns, many people feel stressed both at work and at home. Many people have been laid off from their jobs and others are worried that the same fate may befall them. Even while many companies are looking for ways to cut costs, conscientious management teams understand that both laid-off employees and current employees need appropriate coping skills to face an uncertain future. By offering stress management training sessions, these companies are providing an invaluable service.

Of course, it's not only large corporations that are concerned with employee morale and efficiency. Governmental agencies also have a vested interest in providing assistance to stressed-out workers. Additionally, some county health agencies might find it beneficial at certain times, if they can find the funds, to offer special classes in the community. For example, people need assistance after a hurricane or tornadoes devastate an area. Of course, it's appropriate, and necessary, to take care of physical needs such as shelter, food, and clothing first for those who have been displaced. But once the physical needs have been addressed, stress management training can be offered to assist individuals with the emotional distress that they are experiencing. Even people whose homes were not destroyed may have suffered loss and, for many, financial concerns cause a great deal of worry. Local county health agencies can often help with these concerns. Nonprofit organizations may also offer special workshops or seminars to help individuals cope with the losses and worries they are experiencing.

During these tough economic times, stress management training may help individuals who are worried about the future. If such training isn't available at work, individuals should seek it from other venues. Workshops and seminars often cover a variety of helpful topics. Perhaps one of the most important lessons to be learned is to see events through a larger perspective. This can be difficult when one is worried about finances and perhaps even losing a home. But hope is found in Scripture. The apostle Paul, who experienced much suffering throughout his ministry, wrote these words to the church in Corinth: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Christians can look beyond these current struggles to a time of eternal peace and well-being in heaven. This can be the focus that helps people endure hardships. Taking advantage of stress management training classes can provide additional coping skills and techniques.

Many firms have created programs, based on relevant research, for teaching others specific tools for coping with worry. For example, participants may meet in regular classes with specially trained workshop leaders to learn organizational and time management skills. Through interactive learning, the participants gain confidence in the application of the new skills and gain confidence. As the stress management training classes continue, the participants relax and can share additional worries with the leader and each other. In this way, over time, the leader can adjust the program to meet specific needs or provide referrals to additional programs. Another important topic is the improvement of communication skills For the most part, people with good organizational, time management, and communication skills are able to accomplish more than those who lack such skills. These abilities, which can all be taught and, more importantly, can be learned, also help individuals achieve a sense of accomplishment. Employees who are able to meet deadlines and exceed goals may find themselves being recognized for their achievements and perhaps even promoted to new positions.

Another important aspect of stress management training is physical fitness. Researchers are finding important correlations between physical and mental health. Individuals who are experiencing worrisome and stressful events, either at work or at home, often want to wrap themselves in a cocoon as if they could hide from their problems. But hiding won't make any problem go away. Even those who don't usually exercise should be encouraged to take daily walks. The physical movement will benefit the body and the mind. People who already participate in a regular exercise regimen shouldn't quit just because times are tough. Indeed, this may be the most important time to sign up for a 5K or a triathlon. The physical training will get one's mind off external circumstances. In addition to the physical benefits, research indicates that exercise improves creativity and even memory for many people. Exercise is an inexpensive stress reduction program that anyone can participate in without attending workshops, seminars, or classes. In summary, stress can cause harm to a person's health and sense of well-being. Participating in stress management training programs can help the individual focus on the eternal rather than the temporal and learn important organization, time management, and communication techniques. When formal classes aren't available, exercise is a positive alternative to worry.

Stress Management Exercises

Mental and physical stress management exercises are helpful in relieving tension and improving fitness. When the pressures of everyday life threaten to rob individuals of peace of mind and optimum health, physical and mental exercises can work wonders. Stress is emotional or mental pressure caused by conflict, either at home, in the workplace, or between spouses. Fear of failure, disappointments, disagreements, and deferred expectations can trigger anxiety, worry, anger and a host of other negatively-charged emotions which cause health problems. Conflicts between siblings or with parents result in pent-up emotions or explosive reactions as family members strive to resolve differences. Relationships between husbands and wives can deteriorate in light of chronic illness, job loss, or indebtedness. Irate and unreasonable supervisors can make the workplace a wicked environment where employees must cope emotionally while striving to perform optimally. All of these environmental stressors can wreak havoc on the physical body and emotional psyche.

While not everyone deals with stress in the same way, the physical and emotional manifestations of handling high-pressure situations may be similar. Prolonged emotional conflict can cause sleep and digestive disorders, chronic pain, dental problems, headaches, and muscle spasms. High anxiety causes cold, sweaty palms, grinding teeth, or breathing difficulties. Symptoms of emotional overload can include an erratic or irregular heartbeat, restlessness, depression, irritability, or uncontrollable anger. Without the capacity to diffuse problems or cope with intense feelings of helplessness or despair through effective stress management exercises, individuals may require psychological or spiritual counseling to restore balance.

In conjunction with behavioral changes and spiritual counseling, stress management exercises can be employed to restore peace, tranquility and physical well being. Therapists and personal trainers can teach individuals how to alleviate stressors by utilizing relaxation techniques to protect the body and mind from the negative affects of worry and anxiety. Behavioral scientists advocate training individuals to mentally remove themselves away from situations, people and places which cause distress. Guided imagery, or imagining being transported to a more pleasant scene, such as a beachfront hideaway or tranquil seashore, helps individuals unwind and relax. Meditation techniques include thinking on things that are more pleasant and positive than the conflicts of the day. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

Mentally isolating specific areas of the body and relaxing one muscle at a time releases tension from head to toe. Deep breathing stress management exercises also slow the heart rate, calm nerves and rejuvenate cells. Therapy involves lying in a quiet room and slowly inhaling through the mouth or nose, then gradually exhaling until the mind and body are relaxed and calm. Christian therapists employ good old-fashioned prayer to help patients re-connect with God and reach the source of peace that passes all understanding. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

While prayer, meditation, and guided imagery work well to de-stress the mind, the physical body can benefit from aerobic and non-aerobic stress management exercises. Cycling, walking, running or jogging, and swimming are aerobic activities which increase the heart rate, improve circulation, and remove harmful chemicals produced by anxiety. Joining a health club or hiring a personal trainer can help individuals better cope with stressful emotional and physical challenges. Instead of jogging indoors on a track, stress management exercises can be performed outdoors under a canopy of sunshine and fresh air. A brisk 30-minute walk each day invigorates and rejuvenates cells, while promoting a healthier and happier outlook. Non-aerobic exercises are gentler and have a lower impact on the body. Some stress manangement exercises involve gentle movements which stretch and elongate the skeletal system while releasing toxins. Dancing is also an extremely effective way to release stress; and it takes many forms. Men and women may enjoy clogging, square dancing, ballroom dancing, or hip hop to "get in the groove" and out of an emotional rut. Graceful movements of liturgical or interpretive dance accompanied by the soft rhythms of spiritual or abstract music bring peace and tranquility to the mind, body and soul. Techniques also include tensing and releasing muscles in the face, hands, arms, back and legs to facilitate relaxation in one area of the body at a time.

Another benefit of stress management exercises is increased energy level. Active happy people have boundless energy and find pleasure in the simple things: a golden sunset or bright blue sky gracing a summer's day. When the body feels good, the mind is at peace; and the heart, the head and the psyche simply choose to follow suit. Gone are the black thoughts and dark shadows of worry, fear, and anxiety as individuals reclaim the joy of simply being alive. Happy and healthy people who regularly employ stress management teachniques discover that they can control situations by refusing to allow negative situations to take control. They fight off moodiness and depression by engaging themselves in the lives of others: volunteering at a local senior citizen home, caring for small children, pet sitting, or baking goodies for sick friends. With a positive outlook, individuals can focus attention on something other than their problems, freely devoting time and talent to enhance the lives of others. Therapists suggest consulting a physician before beginning stress management exercises. Older or infirm adults should try low-impact, non-aerobic activities, such as cycling or walking. The idea is to get moving, stop focusing on the negatives, and accentuate the positive with prayer, meditation and thanksgiving for a bountiful, stress-free life.

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