I am often asked for tips on stress management. People ask me to give them a short list of easy routines to reduce stress. They may be thinking of the stress reduction advice which you sometimes see in newspapers including, take exercise, watch your diet, make time for yourself, read a book at bedtime and so on. That may be helpful, but my approach to stress management is not a collection of quick fixes.
Giving you a list of tips for stress reduction does not give you the motivation to follow them. For example, many people may know how to lose weight but lack the motivation to carry it out. Knowing what to do is not the same as doing it. In your busy life you need a fair amount of motivation if you are going to set aside a mere twenty minutes or so each day to complete a stress management routine.
My aim in stress management is to give you some very simple guidelines to follow, but there is carefully structured thinking underneath. None of the ideas in the books and CDs is originally mine. I am simply bringing you some of the best practice from my field of psychology, in a straightforward manner which is easily accessed and not too time consuming.
My book, Say ‘No’ to Exam Stress is most often used for helping youngsters at school in dealing with exam stress. However the principles and methods in that book are also applicable to adults. Read Chapter 1, only six, short pages. Then listen to the enclosed CD, Track 1 for about twenty minutes. Figure 3 on page 41 explains how Track 1 can provide you with the motivation to listen to further tracks up to Track 5. You might listen to Track 1 each day for five days in succession, then move on to Track 2, or repeat listening to Track 1 for two or three days, then move on. It is up to you to decide how often you listen to a given track and when you move on to the next track. It is Track 5 which gives you the ‘touch on the wrist’ technique to use for exam stress, but you cannot jump straight in at Track 5. When listening to the CD for the first time, it is best to listen to the tracks in order, Track 1 to Track 5.
The rationale behind the ‘touch on the wrist’ is to make stress management easily portable. You learn your stress management in a quiet room and then apply it out in the world, in exams or anywhere in your everyday life.
The programme is suitable for college and university students as well as adults in a wide range of stressful situations, not only exams. People who find stress in the workplace, in relationships and so on, may find this programme beneficial.
The relaxation scripts spoken on audio CD are written to provide a combination of muscle relaxation plus guided, positive thoughts. The structure is similar to mindfulness which may have its origins in meditation practices from other cultures. Nowadays these activities have been established as relatively mainstream techniques in western civilisations.
No quick fixes here, but psychology literature and practice distilled into authentic techniques which are quick and simple to use in a busy life.