Stress Management

AHSM defines stress as –

The reaction people have to an imbalance between the demands they perceive to be placed upon them and the resources they have to cope’.

This concise definition contains a wealth of meaning and deserves to be explored.

Imagine a set of old fashioned scales with “perceived demands” on the left and “coping resources” on the right. If the two sides are in balance then raised stress levels will be minimal. However, the more the scales tilt to one side or the other, the higher the level of stress that results.

A common assumption is that raised stress results from the demands or pressures on an individual, exceeding their coping abilities or resources. Whilst this is often the case, it is not so uncommon for the scales to tip the other way. For example, consider a clever school child frustrated by being held back by average ability classmates or unpromoted employees in menial jobs.

The words coping resources come from various sources. We are all born with different abilities to cope with pressure – these can be enhanced or diminished by our life experiences or helped by appropriate training. Coping resources can also include supportive family members, friends, colleagues or professional advisors.

An individual’s perception of the demands or pressures on them is frequently an important factor in increasing their levels of stress. The demands of home life, finances, relationships, health, (un)employment etc. can quickly accumulate a total pressure that seems impossible to cope with at all.

A person suffering from high stress levels often loses the ability to think straight. They become fire fighters, trying to douse one fire whilst others continue to burn.

Stress Management can initially provide a safe haven where highly stressed people can learn how to relax for a while and restore their ability to think clearly. Stress Management can provide a number of tools to help stress sufferers to prioritise their problems and find strategies to cope.