Friday, July 13, 2007

Guest Article: Seven Keys to Managing Stress

Stress management is a complex area. There is not one “off the shelf” solution that will suit every individual who needs to manage their stress. We often turn to psychology to help us manage our stress but my experience is that psychology does not have all the answers. Psychology does play an important role but there is so much more to this subject. Although it is complex my work with others and my own research has thrown up what I believe are the seven keys to managing stress.

1. Learning to relax
This is the most important place to start. If you are under too much stress at the moment then learning to relax is essential for reducing the negative effects and restoring good health. There are many resources available and many books have been written on this one aspect. Find something that works for you and don't assume that meditation is the only solution because there are many.

2. Know what stress is and where it comes from
It is important to understand stress and what it can do to you. Sometimes this stuff can be a little frightening but its important to understand. You should also be looking out to identify stress in yourself as part of this process.

3. Change the way you think
The way we think can have a profound effect on the amount of stress we experience. For instance why can one person walk in to a presentation feeling confident and yet a better trained and more experienced person can feel physically sick walking in to the same situation. It's to do with what is in your mind – this is where Psychology comes into its own.

4. Get some practical things in place
Some of the ways of handling stress are very practical. Good time management skills and education on how to do a job well are all excellent sources of stress management.

5. Make your body work for you and not against you
The fitter your body is the better able it is to cope with stress. Being fit is not an excuse for living on the edge but if you have to live there it will help you survive. Always remember that fitness is not an absolute, even top athletes struggle and put themselves through pain to get fitter. To get fitter usually involves a certain amount of struggle but there are ways of making that struggle enjoyable.

6. Become a part of the world
Good friends and strong families help people who are under stress. Take the time to build relationships and find ways of belonging. Commitment has been a tough word to hear for many years but it needs to become a part of your vocabulary if you are going to be a master of stress management.

7. Get a bigger view of life
It's a simple truth that people who believe in a God who helps feel less stress. It's also true that those who have learned to appreciate life and beauty are happier. We must all find our own way here but don't neglect your spiritual life.

There is a certain irony in the fact that to manage stress well involves doing more things, but in many cases it is about learning to be more effective as people. This increased effectiveness leads to a happier and more productive life. I recommend making these seven keys your habits for life and feel the sense of inner peace that they can bring.

Christopher Brown is a full-time Stress Management Consultant in the UK. To discover more visit his website at where you can sign up for a free e-course called "Avoiding Burnout". You may also contact Chris direct at

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