Some years ago, I had the opportunity to teach stress management to students in my role as a personal counselor at a New York City public college. While there, I established a stress management program that emphasized relaxation training, diaphragmatic breathing, hypnosis, cognitive restructuring and procrastination training. These techniques were helpful to those who took the time to be trained. But over the years, I came to see that stress management is not only about learning techniques.
This came home to me while taking a training course in group therapy. I presented one of my stress groups as my course project. I still remember the comments of the instructor: “This is all well and good, but you aren’t really dealing with the people in the group and what’s troubling them.” After a bit of anger on my part, I came to realize that I had missed an essential point in successful stress management.
Managing stress is more than learning a few breathing techniques or yoga poses or even how to think positively. These things can certainly help treat the symptoms of stress, especially in times of need and challenge. But stress management is really about discovering what makes us happy.
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