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MANAGING YOUR STRESS

The non-stop demands of the PEPFAR program can create chronic stress for the staff dedicated to this program. This section of our webpage is just for you – a place where you can find resources that will help you better understand and manage your stress.

We hope you'll visit this page often and use as many of the resources as you can. Also let us know what you find most helpful as you cope with and manage the many different stressors in your work life.  
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It is not the potential stressor itself but how you perceive it and then
how you handle it that will determine whether it leads to stress.

MINDFULNESS STRESS REDUCTION PROGRAMS: MINDFUL LIVING PROGRAMS
Mindfulness helps us restore and maintain a sense of well-being and develop the skills to avoid emotional and physical depletion. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs course are modeled after the classes offered at the Stress Reduction Clinic, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. MBSR is an intensive program used as a complement to conventional medical management of a wide variety of types of illness, chronic pain, and depression. It allows people to mobilize their own inner resources of mind and body tobecome responsible for their personal health and healing. This program is internationally known and acclaimed by virtue of its broadly researched and documented healing work and has benefited the tens of thousands of people who've completed this course.

Persons who are interested in taking an active role in their own healthcare can learn skills that will help them reduce pain, promote health and wellness, and learn more positive responses to stress in their lives.

The following websites offer various materials, courses, and online experiences for those interested in learning more about mindfulness based stress reduction and mindfulness meditation:

Mindful Living Programs
emindful.com
Meditainment

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
Relaxation techniques are an essential part of your quest for stress management. Relaxation isn't just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the wear and tear on your mind and body from the challenges and hassles of daily life.

Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you've already got it tamed, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Learning basic relaxation techniques is easy, often free or low cost, and poses little risk. Explore these simple relaxation techniques to get you started on de-stressing your life and improving your health.

Practicing relaxation techniques has been shown to reduce stress symptoms by:
– Slowing your heart rate
– Lowering blood pressure
– Slowing your breathing rate
– Increasing blood flow to major muscles
– Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
– Improving concentration
– Reducing anger and frustration
– Boosting confidence to handle problems

Health professionals such as complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, doctors and psychotherapists can teach various relaxation techniques. But if you prefer, you also can learn some relaxation techniques on your own.

Here are some tips for using these or any relaxation exercises:

  1. Try to practice whichever exercise you prefer at least once or twice a day. Expect your ability to relax to improve as you continue practicing and expect to practice two or three weeks before you become genuinely proficient.
  2. Avoid practicing within an hour before or after a meal (either hunger or feeling full may distract you). Also avoid practicing immediately after engaging in vigorous exercise.
  3. Sit quietly and in a comfortable position, with your legs uncrossed and your arms resting at your sides.
  4. Adopt a calm and accepting attitude towards your practice. Don't worry about how well you're doing or about possible interruptions. Instead, know that with repetition your ability to relax will grow.
  5. When you are ready, close your eyes, begin listening to the recording and follow the directions. As you complete the exercise, you can expect your mind to wander a bit-when this happens you can simply re-direct your focus back to the recording.
  6. Once you've finished, stretch, look around and remain still another minute or two.
  7. As you become more skilled, try applying the exercises to specific situations that might otherwise be anxiety provoking, such as tests, oral presentations, difficult social situations, job interviews, insomnia and so forth. If you need help learning or applying the exercises, consider meeting with a counselor.

Visit the Mayo Clinic website for more detailed information on relaxation techniques:

Visit the Hobart and Smith Colleges website where you'll find a variety of free MP3 relaxation exercises (ranging from 9-15 minutes) to help reduce the effects of chronic stress. The recordings of these exercises are not copyrighted-they can be used or copied or recorded to a CD freely.

Both of these exercises are based on the 5tth edition of The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, a best-selling self-help book available through Amazon.

Hobart and Smith College Guided Relaxation Exercise
Hobart and Smith College Guided Meditation for Managing Stress


You may also visit MindTools for more downloadable resources for dealing with stress.


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