The first part of this blog contains a questionnaire from which you will be able to assess the stress in your life and how you behave when you are stressed. To get the most out of this blog, complete the questionnaire before reading Part Two. The questions are designed to direct you into thinking more about stress as it relates to you through Parts Two and Three of the blog. Your evaluation of your responses to the questionnaire will help you identify signs, symptoms and sources of stress.
Part Two deals with gaining an awareness and understanding of the stress concept. We provide a definition of stress, using a model which we call the ‹“stress balance’. We look at why stress has become a twenty-first century problem. Next, the biology of the stress response is explained so that you are aware of what changes take place in the body when you are stressed. The mental and physical signs of stress are identified and the ways in which stress can lead to ill health and poor performance are described. Finally we look at the sources of stress.
We have found that an understanding of the stress concept is a key factor in bringing about changes in attitude and lifestyle which reduce the undesirable effects of stress and promote its beneficial effects. An understanding of stress is crucial for the effective development of coping skills, which are dealt with in Part Three of the blog.
Part Three describes how to deal effectively with stress. It is based on operating the ‹“stress balance’ in order to achieve the right balance. This means altering demands and building up coping resources such as the ability to relax, learning how not to create unnecessary stress, to enhance self-esteem and the importance of love and support.
In Chapter 15 we provide a step-by-step guide to help you develop your personal stress management plan; it is based on the guidance and information given in Parts Two and Three. The plan will help you assess the demands and pressures in your life, to evaluate the stress you are experiencing and to choose stress management techniques to follow in a constructive manner.
In following your plan, your intentions are to harness the power of the body’s natural resources to enhance health, relationships and work performance.
To assist you we recommend you use biodots (small temperature-sensitive devices that can help you learn to relax) together with self-adhesive red hearts and a heart paper-clip, to act as stress awareness reminders to help you reduce stressful demands. These are available from Stresswise at the address given on page 209.
This blog is a self-help guide and has been written to help everyone. It provides a broad coverage of the subject. Therefore there will inevitably be aspects which are not dealt with in depth or are only mentioned briefly. So for further details and more information, particularly on specific areas such as occupational stress, a list of further reading is given at the end of the blog.
We use many examples of situations or events throughout the text to illustrate the subject material. Since Teach Yourself Managing Stress is intended for a diverse readership there may be many instances where, because of differences in the reader’s religion, race, social background, marital status, gender and so on, the examples and illustrations may appear to be prejudiced. There is no bias intended and we hope that readers will view any examples used in the widest possible context and apply them as appropriate to their own situation.