Coping with Stress

Direct action. One stress‐reducing tactic is facing a problem directly by identifying it and then developing a strategy to solve it. For example, for students who become highly anxious at exam times, recognizing that their studying has not been adequate and developing more efficient class‐preparation procedures can be helpful.

Aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise has been shown to be useful in stress reduction. People must be sure, of course, to choose exercise programs appropriate for their general health and strength.

Relaxation. Relaxation strategies, which can effectively alleviate stress, vary widely and range from programs of progressive relaxation and relaxation therapy to short‐term techniques such as taking a minute or two to breathe deeply and count, providing a momentary escape from a stressful situation.

Social support. Social support from friends and relatives is helpful in dealing with stressful situations. Gathering of friends and relatives at a funeral, for instance, is supportive and stress relieving for the person dealing with such exceedingly difficult, if universal, circumstances.

Biofeedback. Teaching a subject to use biofeedback is a process of operant conditioning that is used to change physiological responses such as abnormal heart rate or blood pressure by associating external cues with these responses. For example, a subject's heart rate may be monitored and a tone sounded, progressively louder as the rate increases and softer as it decreases. The subject eventually learns to recognize the level of and to some degree regulate the heart rate without benefit of the sound.