Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and writer. She is the author of “The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free
Americans struggle to balance work and family and, according to a 2010 American Psychological Association (APA) study, are more stressed than ever. In a similar 2012 study, APA researchers found 41% of workers feel stressed during a typical day, while only 2 in 5 employees feel their employers help them to develop a healthy lifestyle.
One of the benefits of our growing use of technology and the internet, is that we have never been more able to access tools to manage our own stress levels. Websites dedicated entirely to stress reduction abound, allowing individuals to seek information and try stress reduction techniques from their homes or work.
MentalHelp.Net has an array of information and tools on how to manage stress at its stress center, where you can find information on the nature of stress, the four stages of a stress reaction, the mental and emotional impact of stress and much more. The stress center also includes the latest news of stress, answers to questions, videos and book reviews.
If you’re looking for additional resources, the following are a few additional tools available online for learning about your stress and managing your stress levels.
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Sites such as www.webmd.com and www.mayoclinic.com offer a nice overview of stress and provide a basic understanding of the causes and normal physical and psychological reactions to stress. They can offer an overview of how stress is linked to weight gain and can offer answers to common stress related questions.
The APA offers information on topics such as myths about stress, stress tips and how to get help from a professional psychologist for stress. It also provides links to studies on stress related topics, such as how giving to others may reduce stress.
These sites, as well as others, can also offer some tools to give you added insight into your stress symptoms. For example, WebMD offers a quiz on the myths and facts about your moods and www.healthypennstate offers a stress quiz to test your knowledge of illnesses and diseases related to stress, your physical reaction to stress and how physical activity can help you manage stress. The APA also offers a quiz testing your knowledge of stress.
Tips for Stress Reduction
So what do you do, once you’ve gained a better understanding of your stress and it’s impact on your body, emotions and life? The web is full of tips for reducing stress. The APA offers a stress tips sheet, as does the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These sites suggest stress reduction strategies such as taking deep breaths, welcoming humor, exercising regularly and eating balanced meals, among others.
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
YouTube can be a great resource for finding guided meditation and relaxation techniques. They vary in length and focus. For example, in the video “Thich Nhat Hanh- Mindful Movements” the practice of mindfulness is described while other videos lead you through breathing exercises, guided relaxation meditation and progressive muscle relaxation.
You can even watch a full 5 plus hour video recording of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Full Catastrophe Living“.
Changing Problems in Lifestyle
Often when stressed our initial attempts to manage it can turn into unhealthy habits that in the long run add more stress to our lives.
Overeating, watching TV and surfing the net, and lack of sleep are a few examples of lifestyle problems that can occur when we’re stressed. A number of web sites offer tips on how to make changes, if you’re struggling with one of these areas. For example Livestrong.com offers steps to change emotional eating habits, The National Sleep Foundation offers tips on how to create an environment that promotes healthy sleep, as well as information on finding a sleep professional if you suffer from insomnia or other sleep problems. And the web is overflowing with fitness information. The National Institution on Aging offers a resource on exercise and physical activity that includes getting ready, sample exercises, activity logs, setting goals worksheets and more. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers another web-based resource that includes a brief survey to help you find the right exercise program for you.
The web offers rich and diverse information and tools on how to understand and manage your stress levels. But, it’s important to recognize the limits of the web, as well. It can’t offer the personalized help of a psychologist or mental health professional and you may need to sort through ads, information from questionable sources and other promotional materials.
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