Psychological Self-Help

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75
mastered without understanding the causes and history of the
emotions. The treatment you need may have to be tailored to your
specific problem (which includes your unique underlying sources of
anxiety, if any). Miller and Smith (1993) provide tests to determine
the source and type of stress you are experiencing, then they suggest
techniques for your type of stress. It may be reasonable, though, to
try a quick, easy method first and see if it works. 
Some self-help approaches may, at first, seem unlikely to work.
For instance, say, you want to reduce your tension and anxiety, to
escape the pressures you are feeling. What probably seem to you most
likely to be effective are techniques that would help you calm down
and relax. And those methods are certainly reasonable choices, but
research has shown that having positive experiences and feelings
decreases our negative emotions, including stress, anxiety,
depression, anger and dependency. So, an anxious person might also
want to focus on increasing the positive events and feelings in their
life. This might include planning and doing interesting things, stopping
to "smell the roses," looking for the positive aspects of your situation,
reading and practicing positive self-changes (more optimism, more
happiness, higher self-esteem, greater toughness), taking pride in
planning and using ways to handle the anxiety, having more fun,
seeking more and deeper social contact and support, etc. There are
many ways to get where you want to go--be open-minded but make
use of research-based self-help methods. 
The purpose of the chapter, thus far, has been to give you an in
depth "understanding" of stress which will, in turn, give you confidence
and motivation to DO SOMETHING! Here is a list of possible self-help
approaches, but first heed this caution. 
WARNING: If you have serious psychological problems, you should
seek professional help immediately and not attempt self-help at all by
yourself.
What are serious problems? Being so anxious or confused that you
can't read extensively and carefully plan a self-help approach. Being so
distressed that you feel you must have quick or instant relief. Being so
upset that you seriously think of suicide. Being so uncomfortable that
you drink or use drugs excessively. Being so physically disabled,
especially with heart disease, brain damage, asthma, ulcers, or colitis,
that you require medical supervision and approval before undergoing
stress of moderate intensity. Being so psychologically concerned that
you already take psychopharmacological drugs or have a
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