Psychological Self-Help

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Psychosomatic ailments result from stress--a wide variety of
disorders are caused by psychological factors, maybe as much
as 50% to 80% of all the complaints treated by physicians. 
High stress almost always interferes with one's performance
(unless it is a very simple task). It causes inefficiency at school
and on the job, poor decision-making, accidents, and even
sexual problems. In chapter 4 we discussed achievement needs
and how test scores relate to anxiety. Sarason (1975) found
that students with high test anxiety do more poorly on exams,
especially important tests, than less anxious peers, but they
profit more from the teacher's hints, suggestions, and advice
about taking the test. Janda (1975) observed that males with
sexual anxiety had difficulty perceiving the difference between
warm, friendly, approachable women and cold, aloof ones.
Other males notice the difference easily. 
Anxiety and fear causes us to avoid many things we would
otherwise enjoy and benefit from doing. People avoid taking
hard classes, trying out for plays or the debate team,
approaching others, trying for a promotion, etc. because they
are afraid. It's regrettable. Let's do something about it. 
Ways of Handling Stress and Anxiety
How to Cope With Stress, Anxiety, and Fears
After determining the nature and seriousness of the stressful
situation you are in, your next task is to decide what you can do about
it. Do you need professional help? If not, how well can you handle the
threatening or challenging situation you face? Your answer to this
question--your ability to cope--determines, along with your
assessment of the importance and severity of the problem, how
anxious or scared you will be. This is where your skills, knowledge,
practice, experience, optimism, courage, etc. come into play--where
they pay off for you. This is where you pit all your self-help ability
against the threatening forces created by your situation. Your level of
anxiety will indicate the outcome of this battle: if you develop and
carry out a good battle plan, you should hold the anxiety to a
moderate level (assuming the stresses are controllable). If you feel
helpless, deny or run away, or, worse yet, blame yourself for the
problems, you will have a high level of distress in the long run
(Kleinke, 1991). 
Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of ordinary
methods of dealing with stressful situations (Billings & Moos, 1981;
Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Carver, Scheier & Weintraub, 1989). The
most effective methods of untrained people were: take responsibility
for planning a way to cope, take rational composed action and avoid
rash impulsive reactions, seek advice and support, look for something
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