Anything that places a demand on our time and energy produces stress. Also, stress is created by thinking or worrying about these demands, because we spend time with this process, and because thinking about
demands often results in psychological distress. Both positive and negative life events and expectations produce stress, although the psychological impact of most negative life events is greater. Stress is both
psychological and physical.
The psychological component of stress can include worrying, racing thoughts, anticipation, fear, obsessive planning, depression, anxiety, cognitive rehearsal of expectations, evaluation of self and others involved
in the life event, assessment of potential outcomes from the event, and assessment of the importance of the event (in either a positive or a negative sense) in our lives.
The physical components of stress can include physiological arousal, sleep disturbance, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, concentration problems, increased expression of irritability and anger,
agitation, increased likelihood for illness, and reduced productivity. The impact and the expression of these stress symptoms varies with the individual and the stressful event. The psychological and physical
components of stress interact and react with one another to produce additional stress.
Stress management training is often presented in corporate training programs by non-psychologists. While some of these programs are informational, they usually do not help you to make the life changes needed to
reduce stress substantially. When experiencing severe stress in their lives, individuals will often seek medical treatment, and are may be given medication to attempt to control the symptoms, as well as medical
treatment for any health problems which develop as a result of the stress. This approach is helpful, and sometimes necessary when stress results in health problems, but it does not eliminate the causes of stress,
nor does it help you to manage the stress in your life more effectively.
Psychologists may combine relaxation skill training, cognitive therapy techniques and traditional psychotherapy to assist individuals in managing their lives more effectively, and therefore reducing life stress
considerably. Relaxation skills teach you how to monitor and control your physiological arousal level. This is specifically directed at the arousal created by anxiety. Cognitive therapy techniques help you to
reexamine the importance of life stressors and to manage the outcome of stressful events better. Traditional psychotherapy allows you to prioritize your life goals, and to make the personal changes necessary to
react to life stress more effectively. You may need to learn how to communicate your needs to others, how to manage and diffuse anger, and how to resolve interpersonal conflicts. This comprehensive psychological
approach to stress management results in significant life management changes and reduced stress symptoms.