Psychological Self-Help

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to "get out of it," i.e. to learn from difficult situations, express feelings
privately but not publicly, stay confident, and use humor. The poorest
responses to stress were: being hostile and confrontive, publicly
venting strong feelings, self-blaming, indecisiveness, ignoring or
denying or downplaying the problem hoping it will go away, keeping
feelings to self or suppressing emotions, giving up trying, and escaping
by watching TV, working, eating, smoking, or drinking a lot. 
In short, people who handle difficult situations well are (1) quick to
take responsibility for handling the problems that come along, (2)
confident of their ability to deal with life's challenges, (3) actually able
to assess the situation accurately, get help as needed, and devise a
good plan, after considering many alternative approaches, and (4)
effective in carrying out the plan, learning and growing with each
problem so they can face the future with optimism. Well, of course!
That's Superhuman! The question is how do you learn all these good
things, right? 
Coping is not a process that comes easy or natural to anyone
(although skilled copers make it look easy). It requires a
conscientious, determined effort to learn about specific ways of coping
with diverse stresses long before the troubles arrive, an openness to
many solutions, careful observation of many peoples' coping
experiences, the courage to try different kinds of solutions, and a
willingness to honestly evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts to
handle stressful situations. Coping with stress requires effort over time
and involves the same self-help steps as any other problem (chapter
Now, let's get familiar with a wide variety of theoretically sound
ways of handling stress. Since there are so many sources or causes of
stress, there will be many possible "cures" or means of relief.
Moreover, your stress-reduction techniques need to be tailored to you
personally. The only way to know if some self-help method will work
for you is to try it. That may seem overwhelming but you need to be
familiar with many approaches because you will face many different
kinds of stress in your lifetime. The more competent you are with
many alternative solutions to problems, the better your chances of
winning your battles with stress. Do not try to control stress with
cigarettes, alcohol, excessive eating, shopping, gambling, excessive TV
or music, etc. 
Some treatment methods will probably work for you whether you
understand where your stress came from or not. A quick, easy solution
is great... sometimes. For instance, a relaxation technique or
tranquilizing drugs will slow and calm you down. If the stress is short-
lived, a little relaxation may be all you need. However, if the threat
you face is persistent, relaxation or drugs, either legal or illegal, deal
only with surface symptoms, they do not remove or alter the
underlying threatening causes. So, when the relaxation or drug effect
wears off, the original stress usually comes back. And, you are back
where you started. As with behaviors, many stresses can not be
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