or hobby, a vacation. Relax listening to music or playing a game or
watching mindless TV. Occasionally, take time for yourself, away from
everyone if possible. Do new and fun things on weekends.
Be sure to examine your own attitude to see if the "pressure" is
coming from you. Are you a perfectionist or a irritable Type A
personality? Do you always have to sound brilliant and look sharp? Are
you frequently angry? Is this because you blame others for your
troubles? Are you anxious to beat out someone in your department?
Ask yourself: how important is this? Maybe you should take the
pressure off yourself and lighten up. Do you always try to please
others, putting in extra time on the job or spending holidays with
relatives or doing what your spouse wants or doing something every
weekend with the children? Decide what you would like to do part of
the time! Try doing something different.
Sometimes a particularly troublesome task, person, or topic of
conversation could be avoided without any serious loss. By just not
attending to the sources of threat, we can avoid some stresses.
Remember, the experienced parachutist checks the equipment
carefully but doesn't think much about both his/her main and reserve
chutes not opening. Use thought stopping on useless worries (see
A word of caution: remember escaping from fear is reinforcing.
Also, avoiding a scary task strengthens the frightening ideas and
neglects testing the false ideas that produce the fears. So, when you
stay away from a person or a situation that upsets you, you are likely
to tell yourself "I'm coping with this pretty well," but the fears are still
there. Your life is still restricted. Indeed, the longer and harder you
work to avoid the upsetting situation, the more intense the fear of that
situation may become. Besides, you have no practice coping with
these kinds of situations. So, use this method with caution.
Support and self-help groups
Talk about your concerns with a friend, someone in a similar situation,
a teacher, or a professional counselor. Share your feelings. A
supportive, non-evaluative friend lowers our blood pressure during
stressful tasks. Type A middle-aged males with few friends were three
times (69% vs. 17%) more likely to die than Type A's with friends
(Orth-Gomer & Unden, 1990)--but do tense, sickly, dying males just
not attract friends or do friends improve our health? In any case, it
seems likely that we are less afraid and have more courage when
someone is with us holding our hand (Rachman, 1978).
It has been estimated that 85% of us have struggled through some
stressful experience in the last five years. Mates are our most likely
source of support, then relatives and friends, then less likely co-