There are several techniques for dealing with the physical and emotional causes and consequences of stress. Short-term symptom relief and long-term cures for chronic stress are possible. But there are many common strategies employed that are counter-productive. There are a million ways to go wrong. Here are some of the more typical errors.
In an attempt to alleviate the tension and worry that accompany stress, some individuals will unwittingly engage in self-destructive behavior.
The stress that can lead to being short-tempered can urge someone to lash out angrily at a trusted friend or loved one. It can incline some to excessive alcohol drinking or coffee drinking with the result of high caffeine intake, leading to more stress symptoms. It can lead to aggressive or violent behavior.
One of the most common results of stress is insomnia. When something is troubling you, and you are physically uncomfortable, it’s difficult to relax enough to sleep. When you do manage to fall asleep, it’s often interrupted during the night, or not the type of deep sleep that is genuinely restful.
Taking a sleeping medication may be helpful in some situations, but long term dependence on any kind of drug to deal with life’s problems is self-defeating. Instead, learn and use some simple meditation techniques to focus the mind and induce a relaxing state.
A heightened focus on problem solving is natural for some types of individuals. But obsessing, even in the face of serious issues, is counter-productive. Try to see the problem as you would if it were being experienced by a friend. You would be concerned, of course. We’re often much better at maintaining objectivity when the problem belongs to someone else.
Some people try to cope with stress by doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Throwing oneself into projects at work is one way of shifting focus away from problems at home. But avoidance can only be partially successful, and only temporarily at that.
Some problems do go away on their own and ignoring them can be a viable strategy. But circumstances combined with evaluations that lead to chronic stress do not disappear simply because we’re not thinking about them. A temporary break to gain perspective and get the emotions under control is healthy. Hiding one’s head in the sand is not.
Fundamentally, all these incorrect and unhelpful methods have a common root. Reality doesn’t go away when some aspects of it are inconvenient or unpleasant. Life is filled with obstacles placed in the way of achieving values. The existence of those hurdles and the need to overcome them – when combined with doubts about our ability to do so – leads to stress.