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What is Stress Management? - Definition & Benefits

Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

Expert Contributor
Lesley Chapel

Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

In this lesson, you will learn the definition of stress management, the benefits of practicing stress management and numerous stress management techniques. Updated: 09/11/2020

What Is Stress Management?

Our increasingly busy lives cause our minds a lot of stress. Stress is mental tension caused by demanding, taxing or burdensome circumstances. Stress doesn't just affect our mental state and mood; it affects our physical health as well. When we are very stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released into our bloodstream, suppressing the functioning of our immune, digestive and reproductive systems. That is why it is so important to practice stress management in order to keep our minds and bodies healthy.

Stress management consists of making changes to your life if you are in a constant stressful situation, preventing stress by practicing self-care and relaxation and managing your response to stressful situations when they do occur.

Before we move on to stress management techniques, it's important to note that not all stress is bad. Stress is actually a survival response when our body thinks that it is in danger. That is why our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and makes our heart rate increase and gives us a burst of the energy hormone, adrenaline, so that we can deal with whatever situation is being thrown at us. This is also called our flight or fight response.

The problem is when we deal with constant stress and worry, or when we don't know how to properly manage a stressful situation. That's why stress management is tremendously important for our health, quality of life and relationships.

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  • 0:01 What Is Stress Management?
  • 1:27 Benefits of Stress Management
  • 2:20 Change the Stressful Situation
  • 2:55 Stress Management Techniques
  • 6:51 Lesson Summary
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Benefits of Stress Management

It has already been said that stress causes mental and physical strain, tension and even illness. It can affect all areas of our lives. Some examples of health problems stress can cause include:


Results of Stress


This diagram below also shows ways that stress affects different aspects of our selves:


These are some ways that stress affects different aspects of our lives.
Stress effects on body and mind


Stress management is beneficial to reduce blood pressure, heart disease, digestive troubles and many more physical ailments. It also helps improve sleep, mental health, cognition and libido. There are simply too many benefits to list them all. It is clear to see why stress management is so important. Now, let's learn some stress management tips.

Change the Stressful Situation

The first thing that you need to consider when encountering a short- or long-term stressful situation is, 'Can I change the situation so that it does not cause me stress anymore?' If it's a person in your life that is constantly negative and critical of you, can you distance yourself from that person? If it is a job that you are doing, can you start making moves to look for a new job or obtain a different position? There is a quote by a famous spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle, that says, 'When you complain, you make yourself the victim. Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it. All else is madness.'

Stress Management Techniques

There are many ways to reduce stress in your life, from exercise to journaling to meditation. Let's look at some of the most common forms of stress management, including physical, mental, social, intellectual and environmental techniques.

Physical

There are various physical techniques you can use. One of these is yoga. There are many videos for this exercise involving body stretching and strengthening online. You can begin your day with 15 minutes of yoga to let go of tension in your body and to clear your mind.

A morning jog or other forms of cardiovascular exercise can help with releasing the happy hormones, endorphins, into your system and can help prevent feelings of stress throughout the day.

Progressive muscle relaxation is another option. This involves starting with your toes and moving all the way up to your forehead, tensing one body part for five to ten seconds and then releasing or relaxing.

You can also improve your nutrition to help manage stress. Cortisol, the hormone released when stressed, causes people to crave sugars and high carb foods. High sugar in the body can cause mood swings and energy crashes after the high. Diets rich in vitamins with vegetables and fruits can regulate hormones, mood and stress levels. Getting enough of the B vitamin complex can help people feel energized, which also reduces stress.

Finally, getting a massage can relieve muscle tension caused by stress, while getting enough sleep gives the body enough time to repair and rejuvenate every night.

Mental

Let's now look at some mental techniques to manage stress. The first of these is meditation. This requires that you practice a state of 'no mind,' or a state of mind without or with minimal thinking. It is helpful to sit in a comfortable position, perhaps cross-legged and bring your focus to your breath, to a repeated phrase, i.e., 'I am relaxed.'

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Additional Activities

Prompts About Stress Management:

Essay Prompt 1:

In approximately three to four paragraphs, write an essay that defines stress and explains the differences between good and bad stress.

Example: When stressed, the body produces more of the hormone cortisol.

Essay Prompt 2:

Write an essay of approximately one to two pages that details the social, intellectual, and environmental aspects of stress management.

Example: The social technique of laughter releases chemicals in the brain that cause you to feel more at ease or happier.

List Prompt 1:

Make a list of at least ten ways that stress can negatively affect a person's physical health. You can refer to the charts provided in the lesson, but try to recall as many from memory as you can.

Example: Stress can worsen allergies.

List Prompt 2:

Make a list of fifteen ways stress can negatively impact a person's mind, behavior, and emotions. You should have five impacts for each category. You can refer to the chart provided in the lesson, but try to recall as many from memory as you can.

Example: Impaired judgment (mind).

Graphic Organizer Prompt 1:

Make a chart, poster, or some other type of graphic organizer that lists and describes physical stress management techniques.

Example: You could draw a person in a yoga pose.

Graphic Organizer Prompt 2:

Create a poster, chart, or some other type of graphic organizer that lists and describes mental stress management techniques.

Example: Guided imagery.

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