Ineffective and Effective ways of Dealing with Stress

There are three basic strategies to try and deal with stress. The first two don’t work very well.


1. Avoid or eliminate stressors.

Going on a long vacation often offers temporary relief. For a time, the stressors are left back home and the mind is able to temporarily forget them and occupy itself with more pleasant, pleasurable things. It’s like withdrawing into a cave, leaving the stressful world behind. However, sooner or later, we have to come out of the cave and go home where the challenges of life are still waiting for us.

We can try to change our lives in an effort to reduce or eliminate the situations that trigger stress. If that is possible, it may be wise to do so. For example, of you have an obnoxious neighbour that you can’t stand – who torments you, moving to get away from that person might be the wise thing to do. Often, however, this is not possible. At times, even if this were possible, the consequence of avoiding one trigger can lead to another trigger causing even more stress. For example, a bad relationship may be a serious source of stress. However, ending or attempting to significantly alter the relationship can be as much or even more stressful. Perhaps this is one reasons why so many in bad relationships feel trapped and choose to remain in them.

Situations where we feel that we have no control at all, can trigger a lot of stress. Serious accident or disease, death, a poor economy, large debt, a stressful job, the environment, and so on, are all situations that we may not be able to avoid, and where we may feel we have little or no control.

If we can eliminate circumstances that trigger stress, it would seem the wise thing to do. Often, we can’t.


2. Engage in activities to release stress

Going for a massage, for example, offers short term relief. The massage therapist, literally works the stress out of your body by massaging and kneading the tight muscles, inducing a state of deep relaxation and ease. Listening to Relaxation tapes, hypnosis, soothing sounds of nature, can all help us to relax. Other techniques, including some other forms of meditation, can help us relax. Some of these strategies are beneficial. Exercise, for example, is a great way to not only release stress, but it carries the side benefit of a healthier body.

However, a problem with all these ways of dealing with stress is that the relief is almost always temporary. We have to go back in a week or so for another massage. We have to go for another jog. We have to play the CD with the relaxing music again and again to help dissolve the stress.

Some other strategies along this line could be even more problematic. Using alcohol, for example, to cope with stress, may be harmful. Taking pills for headaches, or to help us sleep, may offer temporary relief, but could be harmful to our bodies in the long run.

There is something else we can do – something that has a much more lasting effect. It’s called MINDFULNESS.


3. Mindfulness – an effective solution

MINDFULNESS works at a very deep level of our consciousness – at the level where the stress response in our brain takes place. If we can conquer stress here, at this deep level, we’ve succeeded in eradicating it from our lives. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a little time and practice, but, little by little, you soon begin to notice that your stress response becomes more muted. You begin to move away from the usual pattern of blind reaction to situations that are troublesome. When you don’t react, you’re able to think and choose how to respond to those situations without getting all stressed out.

I’ll be telling you much more about Mindfulness in the following pages.