Understand and Manage Stress
Stress is a major cause of ill-health and lost productivity in the Western world. We all experience stress and for the most part we can usually cope with some amount of stress. In fact, it can be beneficial in small doses since it stimulates us. However, when it is intense or enduring it can deplete our energy or exhaust us.
- Find out how to manage stress to keep it within tolerable limits.
- This 100 hour distance learning course has 8 lessons covering the effects of stress on the body and mind.
- Learn about anxiety, panic attacks, and the effects of drug and alcohol use when under stress.
- Discover the role of nutrition and personality e.g. Type A and Type B on stress levels.
This is a useful course for anyone who wishes to improve their own stress levels or wants to help others to reduce their stress levels.
Course Structure and Lesson Content
The course comprises 8 lessons, as follows -
Lesson 1. Body Changes
- The fight or flight response.
- Stress and immune system.
- Long term problems.
- Sources of stress.
Lesson 2. Easy Living
- Controlling stress.
- Goal setting.
Lesson 3. Pills and Alcohol
- Drugs and alcohol.
- Seeking help.
Lesson 4. Self-Esteem
- Self esteem.
- Social support.
Lesson 5. Managing Your Own Career
- Career goals.
- Career management.
Lesson 6. Security and Decision Making
- Self assurance.
- Decision making.
- Problem solving.
Lesson 7. Relaxation and Nutrition
- We are what we eat.
- Diet and weight loss.
Lesson 8. Personality and Stress
- Type A and Type B personalities.
- Personality types and stress.
- Personal style inventory.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
- Identify changes that occur to the body as stress develops.
- Identify the relationship between lifestyle and stress.
- Discuss the impact of legal drugs on the psychology of a person.
- Discuss the importance of self esteem in minimising stress.
- Determine options for career management that will minimise potential for stress.
- Identify and address security issues that impact on stress levels.
- Identify aspects of relaxation and nutrition in a person’s life that may impact upon stress levels.
- Identify the relationship between stress and personality type.
How People React To Stress
There are many different ways that people react to stress, both on a conscious and subconscious level.
It is common for any type of stress, to cause an emotional response accompanied by somatic or physiological responses. The physiological response may in the extreme, be things such as sweating and shaking; and an extreme emotional response may be exhibiting physical or verbal abuse. Most stress however starts at a much lower level and builds, so these responses are often not only less pronounced, but far less noticeable. There are also other types of responses in the form of "defence mechanisms.
Defence mechanisms were first described by Sigmund Freud. They are employed by people to distort or refuse to acknowledge reality. They always operate on an unconscious level. They can become automatic and habitual and often involve some measure of deception and distortion. The main ones that have been observed are as follows:
Repression allows protection from sudden traumatic events, until the individual becomes desensitised to the shock. It involves forcing negative emotions, impulses or memories from the conscious mind which could cause the person distress. Repression can help the individual to control unacceptable or dangerous desires, allowing time to alleviate anxiety about these desires. Hurtful or threatening thoughts are repressed from consciousness.
This is similar to repression, but operates at a pre-conscious or conscious level. This involves a person behaving as though they are unaware of something which they could be reasonably expected to be aware of. This is a defence most frequently employed by people who have lost loved ones. They go through a period of refusing to believe that it is true.
This means projecting one’s own negative desires and impulses onto someone else so as to make these feelings more bearable. It is a particular form of rationalisation. For instance, you feel an irrational hatred toward someone else, and you go around telling people that the person concerned hates you. By projecting these same feelings onto that person it makes it acceptable to dislike them.
This refers to when a person directs and expresses their feelings away from a person, object or situation to which they should be properly directed, towards another source. Sometimes this may be a less threatening target. For instance, it could be displacement of a disturbing emotion such as anger, from one person to another – a shift from a person to whom it was originally directed to another person. Displacement reduces anxiety produced by the unacceptable wish, but at the same time it partially gratifies that wish. For example, an office worker may not be able to display their anger to their manager, so they will go home and take it out on their partner.
Displacement involves difficult emotions usually, such as hostility, anxiety, anger. The individual may turn the hostility aroused by another person or event inwards, leading to exaggerated self-accusations and recriminations, severe guilt or self-devaluation. These inward reactions will protect the individual from expressing dangerous hostility towards others, but can lead to depression or suicidal thoughts.
This is where the individual behaves or advocates views that are the complete opposite to what they really think or feel. This involves unconsciously covering up what you really feel by behaving in the opposite manner. For example, a woman who could not obtain an abortion might harbour a lot of hatred towards her child, and unconsciously still want to get rid of it. Instead, she behaves lovingly and over-protectively to the child.
An individual may protect themselves from dangerous desires by developing conscious attitudes and behaviour patterns rather than repressing them. However, the developed behaviour may be the opposite of their desire e.g. concealing hatred under love, cruelty under kindness, and promiscuity under strict sexual morality. Reaction formation can allow the individual to maintain socially approved behaviour and avoid self-devaluing desires.
Sublimation is transferring life and death impulses into things that are more socially acceptable e.g. art, sport. This involves establishing a secondary socially acceptable goal which can be satisfied instead of satisfying the primary (original) goal. For instance, an excessively aggressive person might satisfy their desire to kill by joining the army where it can be socially acceptable to kill.
This refers to adopting the activities or characteristics of someone else. It may be used to give the individual a sense of self-worth and protection from failure. However, if feelings of adequacy or worth are too heavily based on identification with others, individuals may be highly vulnerable to stressful situations.
This is a means of explaining away unacceptable behaviours by suggesting an alternate and logical reason. A person may pretend to have a socially acceptable reason for a form of behaviour that is actually rooted in irrational feelings. For example, a person may angry with their mother and wants to avoid her. They construct a false reason for not going to visit her e.g. they were feeling tired and would not have been good company. It is justifying maladaptive behaviour by using faulty logic.
This is where people revert back to a time that was more comfortable for them and cling to behaviours that they exhibited at this point in their life. For example, if a new baby comes to a family, an older child may revert to more infantile behaviour, such as wetting the bed, or wanting to be bottle-fed. It quite often occurs during physical illness.
This is where a person seeks to explain their behaviour in ways that seem more acceptable and they are thereby able to avoid the emotional content. This involves detaching oneself from deep emotions about an issue by dealing with it in abstract and intellectual terms. The emotional reaction that normally accompanies a hurtful event is avoided by a rational explanation that removes the personal significance of the event. For example, if a parent dies, the person may say that the deceased lived a long life or it was a merciful release.
There are other defence mechanisms which have been identified and they all work in the same way, to unconsciously protect our egos from distress.
What about Working in Stress Management?
Medical therapists, counsellors, health practitioners and others can become involved in helping people manage their stress. The job and the work involved, may occur at many levels, and involve varying degrees of complexity.
A stress management consultant is a helping professional who supports clients to deal with their stress. They may help the person to recognise their stresses and look at ways to deal with them. They may teach relaxation techniques and coping methods with their clients.
The stress management consultant may offer counselling sessions one to one with clients. Or they could do group counselling. They may also offer training courses to groups or businesses in the same way as an anger management consultant.
We live in a stressful world and many people find it hard to deal with their stress. There are many options for stress management consultants to work as counsellors or as consultants to help people to deal with their stress.
There can be opportunities to work for businesses, agencies or on a freelance basis.
Risks and Challenges
With any self-employment, there are financial risks if you are not able to sell your services.
Working with anyone who is stressed or in distress can cause stress and burnout to the consultant or counsellor, so again, a counsellor may require support and supervision to avoid this.
How to become a Stress Management Consultant
Stress Management is a wide field and the best way to start working in stress management is to undertake a stress management course.
A stress management consultant may be a counsellor or life coach who has decided to focus on stress management, or they may take a course in stress management and operate as a consultant or trainer.
Career areas related to stress management -
- Life Coaching
- Anger Management
- Welfare Officer
- Health Professional
Why do this course?
- Study this course as a way to help others, or improve your own stress levels.
- Develop your skills to help others who are stressed.
- Broaden your career prospects though learning.
- Start a new career in stress management.
- Improve your existing job prospects by adding this qualification to your CV.
You can start the course at any time - enrol today! If you have any questions - get in touch with our expert tutors. They will be happy to help you with any queries about the course or studying with ACS.