When you become stressed to the point where you feel like your head is about to explode, the last thing you want to hear is a motivational speaker on TV talking about their newfound strategy to overcome stress. Or maybe that’s just me.
With a superfluous number of books, videos and articles containing stress relief techniques and tips, it’s ironic to find a chronically stressed population.
Dave Balch, the founder of CopingUniversity.com, said in a phone interview that the general population is still stressed because current techniques, like exercise and meditation, take too much time and effort. There’s also a learning curve where you have to figure out how to incorporate them into your life.
“Stressed people, almost by definition, don’t have the time, so they can’t commit the time and the effort,” Balch said. “The profound truth is that it’s stressful to reduce your stress.”
For example, Balch said that working on a new exercise routine brings up too many questions, like where to fit this exercise into an already packed schedule.
Also, it’s so easy to stop because it feels like a time-consuming project. And if you quit, you lose any stress relief benefits you initially gained.
Balch however has a different approach to stress reduction: daily tips.
Here are his top ways to easily reduce stress:
1) Read short, simple daily tips that help address stress relief or stress prevention. You only need to read one tip a day and take a couple minutes to think about the tip. It could be tips you find through your own research, and then put on notecards. Or you could find daily tips by signing up at Balch’s website www.thecopingcommunity.com/
2) Have something to look forward to. It could be as simple as watching a TV show once a week with your family, or a bigger event like taking a vacation. This will help take your mind off your problems and give you hope.
3) If you start worrying about what other people think, keep in mind that many people are worried about what others are thinking about them, so they are not concerned about thinking about you and your appearance.
4) Go to a petting zoo (you don’t have to bring your kids). It’s hard to avoid smiling when you’re feeding a furry friend.
5) Don’t use the words “always” and “never” – they make everything seem worse than they really are.
6) Be careful about what you say, both out loud and to yourself. For example, if you constantly complain about your back hurting and exaggerate your pain, most likely it will hurt even more.
7) If you’re angry, count to 10 before you react.
8) Lose people that upset you. Don’t force yourself to deal with certain people. For example, you might come across people who try to be helpful, but they really aren’t assisting you, so avoid them.
9) Put yourself and your needs first, especially when you’re stressed. Don’t focus on being a people-pleaser. This includes saying “no” more often when you can’t accomplish tasks that people request of you, but be nice about it as well.
So how exactly does this daily tip method work? Balch said that once you read and learn the daily tips, they eventually become second nature to you, so you retain the benefits.
On his website, members receive one tip a day through email, text message or voice mail. In order to receive tips and have access to videos, forums, etc., you have to become a member at www.thecopingcommunity.com for either $87 a year, or $9.95 a month.
To view some of the shorter tips for free, you can start a seven-day trial for $1, and you can visit the Twitter account @CopingCommunity. Here is also a free four-part stress training video: www.GetStressTraining.com/
Balch has in total about 200 tips. After you receive a certain number of tips, you will start from the beginning to help reinforce the ideas.
Frank Bevacqua, a psychologist, said in an email that our society is too focused on quick-fix solutions, but when it comes to stress it requires real changes to reduce or eliminate it.
He agrees that traditional techniques don’t work long term because they don’t solve the underlying problems causing the stress. Instead, he has one big technique to prevent future stress.
“We all exhibit patterns, although sometimes we are unaware of them and need others to help point them out,” Bevacqua said. “Oftentimes, the context may be different but the source of the stress is the same.”
“Identify those patterns, with help from others as needed, and work to change your script,” he added. “Sometimes making one change, if it is the right one, can lead to a multitude of benefits.”
For example, if you always procrastinate on major projects, that can lead to a lot of stress. But if you focus on working gradually on a project until it’s completed on time without having to rush in the future, that could be a major stress reliever.
Balch, Dave. Phone interview. April 11, 2014.
Bevacqua, Frank. Email interview. April 16, 2014.
Reviewed April 17, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith