Here is your alphabetical listing of tools, techniques, and therapies for combating the stress in your life. Try a few, or try them all. You'll be managing your stress in no time!
Alexander technique: The Alexander technique is movement instruction in which clients are taught to move and hold their bodies with full consciousness and in a way that releases tension and uses the body to its best advantage. People say that practicing the Alexander technique makes them feel lighter and more in control of their bodies. The Alexander technique is popular with actors and other performing artists.
Applied kinesiology: This is a muscle testing technique that helps people determine where in the body they are experiencing an imbalance or problem. Then, massage as well as movement of certain joints, acupressure, and advice on diet, vitamins, and herbs are offered as treatment.
Art therapy: In art therapy, you can use any art form as an expression of creativity to help release stressful feelings.
Assertiveness training: Assertiveness training helps you to be direct and assertive rather than indirect. It helps to combat the tendency to internalize stress, anger, disappointment, fear, and pain by teaching techniques for acknowledging and expressing these feelings in effective and appropriate ways.
Attitude adjustment: Being negative is a habit, and adjusting your attitude to be more positive can be a habit, too. Just like any habit, the more you get used to halting your negative reactions and replacing them with neutral or positive reactions, the less you'll find yourself reacting negatively. Instead of “Oh NO,” react with silence and take a wait-and-see attitude. Or react with an affirmation: “Oh … I can learn something positive from this!”
Autogenic training: Autogenic training, or autogenics, was designed to reap the benefits of hypnosis without the need for a hypnotist or the time typically involved in a hypnosis session. Autogenics uses a relaxed position and the verbal suggestion of warmth and heaviness in the limbs to induce a state of deep relaxation and stress relief. Autogenics have been used to treat muscle tension, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headaches, thyroid problems, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. It can also increase your stress resistance.
Ayurveda: Ayurveda (pronounced I-YOUR-VAY-DA) is an ancient Indian science of living a long and healthy life, defying disease and aging, and promoting well-being and good health through a variety of practices. Ayurveda may be the oldest known health care system, probably over 5,000 years old! Amazingly, it is still widely practiced today.
Biofeedback: This high-tech relaxation technique, designed to teach the body how to directly and immediately reverse the stress response, puts you in control of the bodily functions once considered to be involuntary. A biofeedback session involves getting hooked up to equipment that measures certain bodily functions such as your skin temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and muscle tension. A trained biofeedback counselor then guides the patient through relaxation techniques while the patient watches the machine monitors. When heart rate or breathing rate decreases, for example, you can see it on the monitor. You learn how your body feels when your heart and breathing rate decrease. Eventually, after a number of sessions, you learn to lower your heart rate, breath rate, muscle tension, temperature, and so forth, on your own.
Body scan: This is a relaxation technique involving a systematic scan of the body and conscious relaxation of tense areas.
Breathing exercises: These exercises involve any of various techniques for infusing the body with oxygen and energy, for the purposes of improved health and relaxation.
Breathing meditation: This meditation involves any of various techniques of measured, controlled breathing to relax the body and improve health.
Chakra meditation: This involves meditation on the seven chakras, or energy centers, in the body. Meditating to open and energize the chakras is an effective technique for freeing the body to do the work of extinguishing the negative effects of stress.
Conscious moderation: Conscious moderation involves making a conscious effort to consume food, drink, and other resources, including money, moderately for greater inner and outer balance.
Creativity therapy: In this therapy, you use creative expression, such as painting, writing, poetry, or playing music, as a way to release stressful feelings.
Dance: Whether you take an organized class — ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom dancing, swing dancing, country dancing, square dancing, Irish dancing, to name a few — or go out dancing with your friends every weekend, dancing is great cardiovascular exercise and also a lot of fun.
Dream journaling: Dream journaling is recording the dream images you remember every morning, then looking over them periodically to detect recurring themes.
Exercise: Exercise involves moving the body to improve health, mood, strength, flexibility, and cardiopulmonary function and to release excessive energy such as that generated by the stress response.
Feng shui: The ancient Chinese art of placement is used in the twenty-first century to help people enhance the flow of positive energy through their homes and properties.
Flower remedies: Flower remedies or flower essences are substances made from water and whole flowers, then preserved with alcohol. They contain no actual flower parts, but people who use and prescribe them believe they contain the flower's essence or energy and can promote emotional healing.
Friend therapy: Friend therapy is simple: Let your friends help you manage your stress! Research shows that people without social networks and friends often feel lonely but often won't admit it. Loneliness is stressful. Holding in your feelings is even more stressful. Sharing your feelings with your friends helps you to experience them and move on.
Gym/health club: This is a nice way to have lots of fitness options in one place.
Habit restructuring: Habit restructuring involves working to consciously eliminate or redirect habits that are having a negative effect on the body or mind.
Herbal medicine: Herbal remedies are taken for better health and stress resistance. Practice with caution or under the guidance of an experienced and qualified herbalist.
Homeopathy: Homeopathic remedies are taken for better health and stress resistance. They are highly diluted substances that counteract the symptoms of certain diseases.
Hypnosis: Hypnosis involves deep relaxation coupled with visualization and is achieved through a systematic process. When hypnotized, you retain your awareness, but your body becomes extremely relaxed and disinclined to move, your awareness becomes narrow, your thinking tends to become literal, and you become much more open to suggestion than you would be in a nonhypnotic state. This suggestibility allows for hypnosis to help relieve stress and correct undesirable behaviors.
Imagery meditation: This is a meditation technique that helps you imagine yourself in a different place or circumstance in order to induce relaxation.
Journaling: Writing in a journal is a way to release stressful feelings.
Lifestyle management techniques: These involve any techniques for improving and easing daily life, including techniques for simplicity, de-cluttering, organizing, time management, relationship management, family dynamics, and self-improvement.
Light therapy: This is a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that involves exposing the skin to full-spectrum light for extended periods of time to improve mood and symptoms of depression.
Mandala meditation: In mandala meditation, a significant kind of meditation in Tibetan culture, the focus of meditation is a mandala, or circular picture, sometimes very plain, sometimes highly ornate, containing designs that draw the eye to the center of the mandala, helping the mind to focus on that center point.
Mantra meditation: Any concentrated focusing while repeating a sound can be called a mantra meditation, whether it's Sufi chanting or the recitation of the rosary prayer. Some people believe that the sounds of a mantra actually contain certain powers; others believe that the key to mantra meditation is the repetition itself, and that any sound would do.
Massage therapy: In massage therapy, any of various massage techniques are used to relax the muscles and free blocked energy in the body.
Meditation: Meditation is focused concentration to gain control over the wayward mind and enhance relaxation.
Mindfulness meditation: This is a type of meditation in which the meditator maintains a mindful, highly observant state. Mindfulness meditation is different from other meditations because it can be practiced anywhere, anytime, no matter what you are doing. It is simply focusing on total awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is inherent in many other forms of meditation, but it can also be practiced while walking, running, playing basketball, driving, studying, writing, reading, eating. Anything you are doing, you can do with mindfulness.
Nutrition: You should eat a variety of fresh, natural foods in moderate amounts to improve health and the body's ability to handle stress.
Optimism therapy: So, you think you are a confirmed pessimist? Optimism therapy is like an attitude adjustment but focused on the purposeful reframing responses as an optimist. Studies show that optimists enjoy better general health, a stronger immune system, faster surgical recovery, and longer life than pessimists.
Pain centering: This is a pain management technique that focuses on pain as an experience apart from the suffering and negative associations.
Passive attitude: Having a passive attitude can be a good way to manage stress. By having an “Oh well” attitude about stressful events you can't control, you can give yourself permission to let the stressful feelings go.
Pilates: This consists of specific core-strengthening exercises performed on a mat or on special machines that concentrate on the abdominal and back muscles.
Polarity therapy: Polarity therapy is a little like Reiki in that it is designed to free and balance the body's internal energy, but polarity therapy is more of a melding of Eastern and Western approaches, including massage, dietary counseling, certain yoga exercises, and psychological counseling for a full mind-body approach to energy balancing.
Pranayama: Pranayama consists of the specific breathing techniques of yoga.
Prayer: Prayer consists of focused, concentrated communication, a statement of intention, or the opening of the channel between you and divinity, whatever divinity is for you. A prayer can be a request, thanks, worship, or praise to God. It can be an intention of being thankful directed to the universe. It can be used to invoke divine power or an attempt to experience divine or universal energy directly. Many different traditions have many different modes and types of prayer. Prayer can mean whatever you want it to mean for you.
Reflexology: Reflexology is a little like acupressure, but in reflexology, all the pressure points are in the hands and feet. The theory goes that the entire body, including all the parts, organs, and glands, is represented in a “map” on the hands and feet, and that pressure applied to the right area of the “map” will help to balance the problem in the associated area of the body. Knowing the map allows people to work on themselves by rubbing their own hands or feet in the appropriate area.
Reiki: Reiki (pronounced RAY-KEY) is an energy healing technique based in ancient Tibetan practices. Practitioners of Reiki put their hands on or just above the body in order to balance energy by acting as a sort of conduit for life force energy. Reiki is used to treat physical problems as well as emotional and psychological problems, and it is, more positively, also used as a tool to support and facilitate positive changes.
Relaxation techniques: These include any of many techniques for relaxing the body and mind.
Reward-based self-training: This training involves choosing behaviors you want to establish, then rewarding yourself for your improvements and successes rather than punishing yourself for your slips and failures.
Rolfing: Rolfing is a deep type of massage designed to restructure the body's muscles and connective tissue to promote better alignment. If you like your massages hard, this one's for you. Some people claim that the deep tissue massage actually releases deeply buried emotions and that emotional outbursts are common during the course of the ten-session program.
Self-care: In self-care, you make a conscious regular effort to care for yourself and attend to your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Self-esteem maintenance: This requires working consciously to maintain and protect self-esteem for better physical and mental health and performance.
Self-hypnosis: This is a technique for hypnotizing oneself to achieve goals and stop negative behaviors.
Self-massage: If you learn about acupressure, Swedish massage, reflexology, and many other techniques, you can perform massage on yourself. You can massage your own neck, scalp, face, hands, feet, legs, arms, and torso. Many yoga postures also result in internal and external massage by bending the body in certain ways against itself or by using the pressure of the floor against certain parts of the body.
Shavasana: Shavasana, or corpse pose, is a yoga position that involves complete relaxation of the body.
Shiatsu and acupressure:
Sleep: Most adults need about eight hours of sleep each day, and some need even more. Getting enough sleep is an important step toward being able to manage stress.
Swedish massage: This common form of massage involves a massage therapist applying oil to the body and applying certain types of massage strokes — namely,
Swimming: Swimming is especially good for people who can't take much stress on joints, who are overweight and just beginning to exercise, or who enjoy being in the water.
Tai chi/chi kung: Tai chi and its precursor, chi kung (sometimes called Qigong), are ancient Chinese Taoist martial arts forms that have evolved into a series of slow, graceful movements, in concert with the breath, designed to free internal energy and keep it flowing through the body, uniting body and mind, promoting good health and relaxation. Tai chi is sometimes called a moving meditation. Chi kung involves specific movements and postures as well as other health-maintenance procedures such as massage and meditation to maintain and improve overall health and balance the body's internal energy (called “chi” in China).
Team sports: For people who like to play on a team and are motivated and energized by the energy of others, team sports can be an excellent way to get exercise and a social life at the same time.
Thought stopping: Thought stopping is the practice of noticing destructive or obsessive thoughts and consciously telling yourself to stop, then re-directing your thoughts in a more positive way.
Visualization: This is the technique of imagining something you want or a change you would like to see in yourself in order to mentally set your intention and help to effect the changes.
Vitamin/mineral therapy: This therapy involves taking vitamins and minerals to cover your nutritional bases and protect against deficiencies for better health and a more stress-resistant body.
Walking meditation: This is a form of meditation that is practiced while walking.
Walking: A versatile exercise choice for people of any fitness level, walking is excellent for boosting mood and reducing stressful feelings as well as improving physical fitness.
Water: To keep the body well hydrated and properly functioning, drink sixty-four to eighty ounces of water each day.
Weightlifting: Lifting weights is great for any adult. It builds bone mass and can reverse osteoporosis. It increases muscle tone and helps your body to burn more calories because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn during the aerobic portion of your workout.
Worry control: Worry control involves learning to recognize obsessive worrying and re-direct that energy in more positive ways.
Yoga: Yoga is an ancient Indian method of exercise designed to “yoke” body and mind through specific postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Yoga meditation: This is a form of meditation designed to help the meditator recognize ultimate oneness with the universe; it can result in a state of pure, joyful bliss called samadhi.
Zazen: Zazen is the sitting meditation of Zen Buddhism, although many non-Buddhists practice zazen. It involves just sitting and is not necessarily affiliated with a religion or philosophy. When practiced regularly, just sitting becomes a mental discipline that results in a greater ability to manage stress.