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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Principles of Stress Management

Here are some more principles to assist with stress management. This topic is coming to an end an soon we will begin something else insha'Allah!

Develop Self-knowledge

This involves knowing your capabilities and your limits, your personal temperament and typical coping style, and your values and goals.

You may feel comfortable with some of your characteristics, less happy with others. In either case, to effectively manage stress you need to be aware of your own optimum stress level and coping style, as well as the goals and values that guide your reactions.

Everyone has their own temperament, style of managing stress, and value system. You need to develop strategies relevant to your personal style and compatible with your personal values, otherwise you are not likely to use them.

Self-acceptance and confidence

Accept yourself for who you are, with your limitations as well as your strengths. Do not attempt to take on more than you can handle, you do not have to be perfect, just be the best that you can be. Do not measure yourself according to other people or their expectations. Have enough confidence in your abilities, skills and talents and do not wish to have what you think other people have.

Tolerance for frustration and discomfort

The ability to tolerate frustration and discomfort is central to stress management. High tolerance will keep you from overreacting to things you dislike. It will help you tackle problems and issues rather than avoid them. It will enable you to take risks and try new experiences.


The principle of moderation will help you avoid extremes in thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Why moderation is important to stress management?

Extreme expectations - too high or too low, will set you up for either constant failure or a life of boredom.

Addictive or obsessive behaviour can take control of you, creating new distress. Unrestrained eating, drinking or exercising will stress your body and lead to long term health complications.

Emotional and behavioural responsibility

People who see their emotions and behaviours as under their control are less prone to distress than people who see themselves as controlled by external forces. The principle of responsibility can help you take charge of your emotions, your actions, and in turn your life. It involves taking responsibility for (1) what you feel, and (2) how you act.

To be emotionally responsible is to believe that you create your own feelings in reaction to what life throws at you. You avoid blaming other people - your parents, partner, or anyone else - for how you feel.

Behavioural responsibility means accepting that you cause your own actions and behaviours, and are not compelled to behave in any particular way.


Flexible people can bend with the storm rather than be broken by it. They know how to adapt and adjust to new circumstances that call for new ways of thinking and behaving. They have resilience - the ability to bounce back from adversity.

The principle of flexibility

To be flexible is to be open to change in yourself and in the world. As circumstances alter, you are able to modify your plans and behaviours. You are able to adopt new ways of thinking that help you cope with a changing world. You are able to let others hold their own beliefs and do things in ways appropriate to them - while you do what is right for you.

Adapted from the book: “Good Stress: The Life that can be yours”, by Wayne Froggatt, Published by HarperCollins New Zealand, Auckland, 1997.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eid Wishes

A Ten Step Guide To Coping With Stress

Here are ten simple steps to dealing with stress, I hope that you find it useful:

1) Avoid caffeine.
This is a stimulant, so therefore they cannot calm you down. If you’re stressed, steer clear of coffee, tea, soft drinks with caffeine, etc and keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking water instead.

2) Work off stress with physical activity.
Pressure or anger releases adrenaline in the body. Exercise helps to reduce it, and produces ‘good mood’ substances in the brain. So go for a brisk walk around the block when you feel tense, and try some regular exercise.

3) Relax with a stress reduction technique every day.
Try a simple breathing exercise – it’s very easy and can even be done at any time and place. It will help to calm you down.

4) Get enough sleep.
Sleep is essential for the body to function properly. If you’ve habitually skimped on sleep, you probably won’t even remember how it feels to wake up fully rested. Give it a go for a week; and see if there’s a difference in how you perform during the day.

5) If you’re ill, rest.
Don’t just carry on regardless. Working will tire the body and prolong the illness. So recognise that you have limits and don’t carry on as if you were firing on all cylinders.

6) Agree with somebody; once in a while!
Life shouldn’t be a constant battleground. So even if you disagree with someone, avoid conflict by just agreeing or keeping quiet. After all, they have a right to their opinion, just as you do.

7) Learn to accept what you cannot change.
This philosophy will help you avoid unhappiness, cynicism and bitterness.

8) Listen to your body.
When you are tired, hungry or thirsty, do something about it. Also recognise stress and anger in your day and counter it immediately with a brisk walk, ten minutes’ in deep relaxation or whatever works for you.

9) Learn how to say ‘no’. Simple, but effective. Where a ‘no’ is the appropriate response, say it without guilt.

10) Manage your time.
Take one thing at a time. Don’t overdo things. Create time buffers to deal with unexpected emergencies. And, recognise that your day to day problems and responsibilities are the things that cause stress in your life. Tackle them with a system that works for you.

A simple method is to:
- List the things that you need to do.
- Put them in order of importance
- Decide what you need to do yourself, and what can be delegated.
- Decide which needs doing today, next week or next month
- Decide what doesn’t need doing after all, and drop it from the list..

Your mountain of tasks is now in some sort of order. This should help. The list used to control you. Now you control it. And you’ve lost the stress that it caused you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Managing Stress

There are a number of different strategies for coping with, and managing stress. It is important to realize that no single method suits everyone: a combination of approaches is generally most effective. Also, what works for one person does not necessarily work for someone else.

First we will re-look at the ABC Model which was previously discussed in an earlier post, this time we will apply it to stress management:

 A- ACTIVATING EVENT (events in people’s lives, events that might be distressing or troublesome for them).

B- BELIEF SYSTEM (person’s beliefs about the events that occur in their lives).

C- CONSEQUENCE (emotional and behavioural reactions which most of the time are dysfunctional or problematic if the event is experienced as distressing).

We have no control over A, the Activating event, it will happen anyhow, however, our beliefs about events will determine the consequences and therefore if we change our negative beliefs then we will be changing the consequences as well.

Now let's look at an EXAMPLE of how we can apply this to stress management.

The Table Below Gives a simple example of how people can easily become stressed out according to their particular belief system about an event:

From this example we can see how a different belief system can help to reduce stress. You can try to apply different examples to this model and see what you come up with. Most of the time you will find that stress can be reduced when people change their negative or demanding belief systems. 

In stress management its very important to look at peoples belief systems about things and situations. This is because often people have irrational beliefs or assumptions about the way things should be. These irrational assumptions often puts pressure on them and causes stress. Stress can be reduced and even avoided if these irrational assumptions are changed to rational assumptions.


-Use the stressors that you have previously identified and apply it to the ABC Model.

-Your stressor will be the activating event, focus on what belief system you have been making use of, is it rational or irrational?

- Think about the alternative? How can you change your belief system, what will happen if you change it? Think about how your stress levels will decrease.

- If you’re feeling stressed out, it is very likely that you are making use of irrational belief systems, using an alternative, more rational belief system will help to reduce and perhaps even alleviate your stress.

Below is some examples of Irrational Beliefs or Assumptions and a Rational Alternative:
Think about this and consider the difference it makes to a person's stress levels when their irrational assumptions are changed to rational ones. Can you see how people can easily add extra stress to their lives by holding on to irrational beliefs?

Someone recently told me that "we should strive for excellence and not perfection". No human being is perfect and trying to be perfect adds stress to our lives. We should try and do the best we can in life, but then we have to leave things in the hands of Allaah (SWT) and accept our own shortcomings. This will help us to think about things in a more rational way and Insha'Allah will thus help to lower our stress levels, making us calmer and more peaceful.

May The Almighty Allah help us all!