Stress Techniques

Recognition, Perspective, Decision, and Action Relieve Stress

When we face new challenges that exceed our existing capacity to cope, previously successful patterns of thought, feeling, and action become ineffective.

To breakthrough these obstacles one should follow four key steps:

Four Key Steps

Four Key Steps

Practice taking 4 key steps.  These steps can help you make a breakthrough to reach higher levels of adjustment.

Each step is important.  The quality of each step depends on what precedes it.  The effectiveness of your action depends on your capacity to decide.  This in turn is based on an accurate perspective and recognition of realities.

When you fail to recognize realities, perspective is biased, and your decision or resulting action does little to reduce distress and build health.

1. Recognition

When experiencing stress one has to recognize which of the five stress types one may be experiencing (anxiety, anger, physical-symptoms, depression or psychosis).

Become Aware of Your Inner State

  • Is one of the five stress types stronger than the other?
  • Are you experiencing a mixture of the five?
  • Are the stress symptoms escalating as in the hierarchy of defense?
  • As you ignore each of the defenses in turn , does another distressing symptom come to replace it?

Naturally, when faced with physical symptoms, you should first consult a physician to rule out physical illnesses.  Once you have ruled out a physical cause for the illness, take a close look at how you are choosing to live your life in this present moment.  Is there room for improvement in your sense of self?  Close relationships?  Work?

Notice when the stress arises.

Intimacy and Stress

  • Are you experiencing stress in the context of a close relationship that is just beginning?
  • Are stress symptoms arising in marriage intimacy or as commitment increases?
  • Are you frustrated in your capacity to find love?  To keep or build love?
  • Do you feel like you get scared or ‘mess things up’ just as you are becoming closer and happier?
  • Do you fight just after a nice night out together or finally some time alone?
  • Is it as you become closer that you encounter a setback?
  • Is there one dimension of intimacy (intellectual-social, emotional, physical-sexual) that is harder for you to become close to than others?
  • Is the experience of being intimate with one person in all three dimensions (intellectual-social, emotional, physical-sexual) difficult or impossible?

Achievement and Stress

  • Do you find yourself making work excuses to stay home from work?
  • Do you dread what you do?
  • Are you overwhelmed by work goals, a difficult boss, an impossible job?
  • Is there little sense of satisfaction from what you do all day?
  • Are you always thinking of work first?
  • Do you only feel a sense of mastery at work and feel that time spent elsewhere is wasted? Are you seeking your purpose in life through work alone?
  • Do you think that when you achieve a goal, you will allow yourself to be happy?

Self and Stress

  • Are you filled with negative thoughts or a situation that replays itself over and over in your head?
  • Do you feel stuck in a role that you do not care for?
  • Do you feel anxious as you lose your attachment to unhappy life events?
  • Are you ‘in touch,’ ‘at peace,’ or ‘in control’?
  • Do you experience outbreaks of anxiety, anger, physical-symptoms, depression or psychosis for seemingly small things?
  • Do you feel out of control or filled with underlying anxiety?

Recognition: By placing our experiences in the context of the three spheres, we can improve our ability to recognize and understand our subjective response to life’s experiences.  When stress signals surface it is important to take this first step promptly, or the stress signals may escalate on the hierarchy of stress.

2. Perspective

Once you recognize that you are experiencing stress symptoms in one or more of the three spheres, you will need to gain perspective.

To do that effectively you have to first accept realities (positive and negative).

That is you need to accept the situation ‘as is’.  To be in the moment with whatever is occurring rather than denying its presence, wishing it could be otherwise, or thinking of anything that you could have done to make it any different from it the present.

When the current moment is painful, you may wish to avoid this at all cost.  But, if you wish to breakthrough you will have to come to terms with the present.  To do so, allow yourself to feel the emotion, even a painful one.

When you have loved, or worked hard for something and are disappointed by loss, it is natural to feel pain and hurt.  When you have lost a loved one, loss is particularly painful. Although some grieving is important and necessary, when we replay the loss over and over in our mind we suffer over and over.

Accept the Present

To change stress into an opportunity for breakthrough, we accept the current challenge, however difficult. If we do not, we only create more anger, anxiety, physical symptoms, depression or psychosis.  Only after acceptance of the negatives can we take positive action (action not consumed by stress or negative energy).

When we learn to accept the moment, even a painful one, a new perspective arises. The challenge then becomes an opportunity for breakthrough.

Learn to Stop Negative Thoughts Replaying in you Head

When you replay the events that triggered stress in your mind over and over, you increase or accentuate symptoms of stress.

To calm the mind, you need to recognize that those negative thoughts are not you. Thoughts are subjective and respond to something that may be occurring in your life, but thoughts are not the objective event, nor are they you.

When a negative thought arises, look at it as if you were watching it from the outside. Do not judge the thought.   The thought is a subjective interpretation of an objective event. It is not the event itself, nor is it you (you are something far greater).

While you cannot always change your external environment or a difficult reality in your life, you can change the way you think, feel, and act about those same realities.  In this area (the subjective response), you alone have control.

By accepting the moment, however difficult, you can change the inner subjective experience of pain and suffering.   If you can learn to accept the inevitable negatives in your life and increase the positives, you can take full advantage of your leverage over the subjective factor.

Perspective: By accepting reality ‘as is’ one can take positive action from a state of strength.  By building one’s three spheres despite the inevitable negatives in one’s life, one can emerge from a challenge transformed.

Track Inner Health and Happiness to Gain Perspective

For those experiencing distress, tracking oneself (in each of the three spheres) and viewing graphs of one’s progress, can help to improve one’s ability to recognize patterns in thoughts, feelings, and actions over time.  Tracking helps you to accept what is without replaying it over and over.

The act of self rating helps you control the inner subjective experience of life that contributes to our happiness or distress.  As one rates oneself (this takes 5 minutes), one can better understand and accept the present realities.  One can use the data to view graphs on our inner state.  In doing so, we can look back and gain perspective on past patterns.

We rate ourselves to make the present more alive.  To become conscious of the subjective factor and the areas of our life that contribute to well-being.  Even if you may not yet know how to interpret the scores, the very act of rating psychological spheres that determine your inner health can open a new perspective.

Tracking inner health is a tool.  It can help us to accept the ‘bad’ and build on the ‘good.’

To build inner health, we must gain perspective on our whole life, to learn to accept the inevitable negatives in any one sphere, and to increase the positives.

Stress Exercises to Gain Recognition and Keep Perspective

If you want to track yourself, use the Lifetrack positive health adjustment sheet found in the Ottawa journal download LifeTrackTherapy (3 MG).

3. Decision

By asking yourself where you stand in relation to the five alternatives, you can improve your ability to breakthrough to higher levels of well-being.

Will the decision, you are about to make, move you towards:






Breakthrough when possible, withdraw when necessary.

4.  Action

After acceptance of the situation ‘as is’ and recognition that we are far more beautiful and profound than the anxiety, anger, physical-symptoms, depression or psychosis that may pervade us, we gain the perspective on the whole of our life and not just one life event.

We emerge capable of making decisions in a state of  health.  Effective action follows.

Effective action comes after successfully taking the other three steps.   If you have an accurate recognition of what builds health, a more informed perspective, decision, and effective action will flow.  In other words, if you have recognized what determines your well-being, gained perspective on how to achieve and maintain it, and have decided to take steps to change, then you are ready for effective action.

Action that comes from acceptance of a situation is stronger than action driven from any negative energy or positive hopes for future happiness.

Copyright © 2010 Lifetrack Corporation

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Read more about stress (symptoms of stress and anxiety), five stress symptoms (stress types), stress techniques, and alternatives of the threshold of stress (don’t hate life).

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Stress Techniques, Stress Exercises, Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
Stress techniques or stress exercises to make symptoms of stress and anxiety unnecessary.  Use stress as an opportunity to breakthrough.