Paul Stemman

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Relaxation and stress management

In today's busy world many people find it hard to relax. People feel 'stressed' about work, about their relationships, about their health.


Being constantly stressed might almost be seen as 'normal'. Unfortunately, stress can often build-up and lead to a mental health problem. The stress might trigger depression or psychosis. That is why it is important to deal with stress as early as possible. We often cope with the stress in ways that can be unhealthy, e.g. drinking too much.


People often act in certain ways when they are stressed. But we all act differently, so it is hard to give a list of behaviours that mean you might be stressed. You are probably aware of your own sign, e.g. start biting your nails, not wanting to face the playground,etc. It is important to be able to spot these behaviours and then admit to yourself that you might be stressed about something.


Sometimes we might need to think about changing our circumstances to avoid the stress. For instance, if you are getting stressed because you keep spending money on credit cards, then you probably need to look again at your budget. If part of the problems is you have a 'shopping habit' then you might want to think about what lies behind that.


Often, we cannot change our circumstances. In which case, we need to develop techniques to manage the stress better.These tactics can be diverse and will depend on your situation. It might be something as simple as making sure you take a lunch break, or planning your day so you feel more in control and not just 'running around'.


Many people now use relaxation techniques to help reduce their stress levels. There are lots of things you can try from meditation to Tai Chi. There are normally evening classes that will teach you the basic techniques.


Just simply spending five minutes concentrating on your breathing may help. Sit or lie in a relaxing position. Try to tighten and then relax all of your muscles in turn. Then start breathing slowly (in through your nose), and out. You should try and make the breath out longer than the breath in. Begin to concentrate on this breathing and how your lungs fill and then empty. Closing your eyes will probably help. Imagining that you are somewhere calm can also help, while you continue with the deep breathing.


Although this sounds foolishly simple (it is), you could also find you are more relaxed at the end of it - and better prepared to deal with stress.



Further information

Mind's booklet on managing stress

A self-help guide from

Glasgow's STEPS website has a very good self-help guide