• Mary Hansbrough

Effective Stress Management Skills

Researchers have examined the effects of various behavioral relaxation techniques on selected stress-related illnesses. The focus of this discussion is on relaxation training techniques. For example, there is evidence that relaxation techniques can help patients with essential hypertension. Relaxation training can also help patients who suffer from tension headaches. However, in general, headache sufferers treated with biofeedback appear to do better than those treated only with relaxation, and the best clinical results occur when these two treatments are combined.



Schneider and colleagues (2005) have shown that the daily practice of Transcendental Meditation may be helpful in reducing blood pressure. Transcendental Meditation is a relative simple method that uses a mantra such as a word, sound or phrase repeated silently, to narrow the conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from the mind. The goal is to focus intently on the mantra to achieve a state of perfect stillness and consciousness for ten to twenty minutes two times a day for the best results.


Progressive Relaxation, is described as a "method to bring quiet to the nervous system." Progressive Relaxation requires an individual to tense their muscles or muscle groups to learn the sensations associated with tension in particular muscles. The goal is to recognize the contrast between tension and relaxation, and learn to recognize minute levels of muscle "tenseness" and to relax all of the skeletal musculature. Progressive relaxation techniques are widely used by behavior therapists because they can be learned quickly and can be taught to patients over the course of a few sessions with the assistance of tapes that the patient uses for practice at home.


One quick way to determine if relaxation techniques are working if you have hypertension is to keep a daily log of your blood pressure readings and a determination can be made if the strategy is working by a reduction in the blood pressure readings.


As a health and wellness coach, I believe it is essential to provide multiple stress management techniques to clients in order for them to determine the most effective strategies that will garner the best results for them. The goal is to assist the client with managing their stress. Each individual is different, therefore, what works for one person may not work for another, because individuals tend to appraise their stressors different. Consequently, it is necessary to have multiple options for the client to experience to determine the most effective strategy(ies) that will provide the best results.





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