The following strategies are commonly used but, for many, they create more problems than they solve. Think twice about using them and, if you have to, use them cautiously and only for a limited time.
Withdrawing from a problem for a while to get a fresh perspective and renew resources is sometimes appropriate but just withdrawing without taking any further action does not help. If the problem is at work absenteeism is likely to cause other problems.
Whether verbal or physical, aggressive behaviour results in a loss of judgement and overreaction and tends to create more difficulties. However anger about a situation such as an incident of abuse may not be unreasonable but to be effective it needs to be controlled and expressed in a legal and ‘safe’ way.
In moderation alcohol may be relaxing but long before it causes drunkenness it slows reaction time and spoils judgement. That decreases the ability to cope with a crisis.
Refusing to face a situation that is stressful tends to create more problems. If you are fortunate the situation may not get worse, but you will still be unable to avoid the extra worry while waiting to sort it out. More likely though, the situation will become worse and more complicated the longer it is left. It is true of course, that not every problem has an immediate answer but at least analyse the problem and use some Holding Strategies if nothing else. (Check this out in Getting Started/Techniques for Managing Stress )
Relieving stress by handing over some situations to others may help but care needs to be taken that this is not a form of opting out. You need to be confident that whoever is delegated is capable of fulfilling the given task and will not create more problems for you.
Pretending a difficult situation or a problem person does not exist will create more problems as you are in effect lying to yourself if not to anyone else.
Alcohol and nicotine are mentioned separately so this section covers drugs such as:
Amphetamines (speed, billy or whizz)
Cannabis (marijuana, weed, pot, dope or grass)
Cocaine (powder cocaine, coke or crack)
Ecstasy (MDMA, pills, crystal or E)
New psychoactive substances (mephedrone, meow meow and spice)
Opiates (codeine, heroin, methadone, morphine and opium).
Some can take these drugs occasionally without becoming addicted but that is unusual as the rate of addiction is high. If you are an addict you will crave the drug increasingly over time so much, that it dominates your life to the exclusion of family relationships, education and employment opportunities and responsibilities. If you use such drugs there is a high risk that your mental capacities will be damaged but this will occur in such a way that you will not realise how badly you are affected. The craving will dominate your life so to obtain further supplies you will be tempted to do anything including stealing from family and friends and undisguised criminal activity. If taken to relieve stress they will help, as they distract you from your stresses, so the feeling of being stressed will be easier. However, as they seriously damage your ability to cope with the causes of your stress they are not recommended.
Sometimes, the term drug dependency is used interchangeably with drug addiction but they ought to be distinguished, as it is possible to be dependent on a drug without being addicted. In drug dependency the dependence is partly psychological and partly related to how the drug affects the brain. It is quite common with tranquillisers, sleeping tablets and some antidepressants whether obtained on prescription or from the pharmacy. If you take any of these you may be happy to stay on them at exactly the same dose even for many years and are not tempted in the slightest to increase the dose. However, their clinical effect wears off after a few weeks but by then your brain is used to them so your sleeplessness or anxiety will return when you try to stop them. This is only a temporary effect as a normal sleep pattern returns in a few weeks’ time and you can manage quite competently without your drug. If you are willing to work through this period as guided by your doctor it is possible to regain your sleep pattern and anxiety control. Those who achieve this, often report feeling more alive and awake than previously. This relates to the insidious effect such drugs have. Even though their main effect may wear off after 8 hours or so, they are still in your system for up to 24 hours . It is because of this prolonged effect that users can be at risk of being charged with driving under the influence of drugs if they have a motor vehicle accident.
Some people naturally take a great interest in details but when taken to excess, especially when in a supervisory role, such attention takes excessive time and requires additional energy expenditure that often would be better used elsewhere. Inevitably, it will prevent other people from developing their skills and will reduce their self-confidence. This is a killer for any hope of team development.
See SMOKING below.
Some people lose their appetite when stressed but most seem to overeat, particularly sweet foods. These are loaded with ‘empty’ calories that have no great nutritional value so go straight to form fat. Not a good idea!
Being a meticulous housewife or having the reputation of being the best worker in the team may be a defensive mechanism to hide a sense of inadequacy or difficulty in making relationships. If this might be you consider how you might work toward a better balance in your life. (Check out this topic in Getting Started/Techniques for Managing Stress ).
RECREATIONAL DRUG USE
So called ‘recreational drugs’ are taken to alter the state of your mind. What happens then is not in your control so you may behave dangerously, criminally or abusively just as if you were drunk. There is nothing good to be said about this practice and it can lead to serious harm to both yourself and others.
Tobacco smoke contains cancer inducing drugs but it is another constituent, nicotine, that is used to alleviate stress. Although low doses of nicotine have a stimulant effect, higher doses are sedative so have a calming effect and this is used by many nicotine users as a relaxant. It works but at what cost? Nicotine is one of the most powerfully addictive drugs known. Once started it can be difficult to stop. The nicotine in tobacco is exactly the same nicotine that is available in chewing gums, skin patches, lozenges, electronic cigarettes and nasal sprays. Some of these forms are medically approved as an aid to stopping smoking but the idea is that they are used for a relatively short time at a gradually decreasing dose. Medical approval in these circumstances does not reduce the health risks. They are not a ‘safe’ drug so should be use as a last resort. Not recommended!
When overwhelmed by stress that seems endless and unmanageable you may feel as if the world is crumbling around you. The emotional trauma can be so severe you may despair of the future and can see no other way but to end your own life. That is entirely understandable though it is a tragedy for those left behind and there is something not right if the stresses, problems and difficulties of life gain more attention than your life itself. One of the reasons for this website being created was because of the number of people who do commit suicide that seems to have been stress related. My hope is that this site will give you hope in times of desperate despair and can help you see a way forward into a future that is manageable and brighter than anything you have previously known.
It may not be considered culturally appropriate to express some emotions (eg ‘grown men do not cry’) but if emotions are suppressed whether they are anger, distress, fear or whatever, they will take their toll. They may cause ‘stress related’ illnesses such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and migraine. Do not presume however, that stress is the cause of any of these illnesses. Do consult your doctor. All these illnesses may be caused by something other than stress.
Usually associated with toddlers but some adults indulge in these to the amusement or perhaps the fear of those observing.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is one of the most addictive drugs. Inhaled nicotine passes through the lining of the nose into the blood stream and reaches the brain in 7 seconds. It is a both a tranquilliser and a stimulant depending on how it is used. Sadly, there is a lot of public misinformation about the role of nicotine in causing addiction and, in the long term, as a factor in increasing the risk of developing heart and other vascular diseases. See Smoking, above.
This may be expressed by physically going away from a difficult situation that really ought to be dealt with but may equally be expressed by going silent and avoiding involvement in a stressful activity.
Burying yourself in work or being overly meticulous particularly if the work is not productive may be a way of hiding from personal or home problems. Every worker needs regular breaks to be able to function efficiently.