Coping With Stress: The Problem With Stress Management (Part 1)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Most people today have been indoctrinated into a mindset I call “The Stress Management Mentality” of our times. The centerpiece of this mindset is an unquestioned assumption that the best way to deal with stress is to manage it.

Unfortunately, if you’ve  attempted to manage stress in your life, as I assume you have, you’ve probably discovered many problems with trying to cope with stress in this way.

While classic stress management techniques, such as relaxation, dietary changes, physical exercise, meditation, and yoga, are much more healthy than using cigarettes, alcohol, illegal drugs, or other chemical coping strategies for dealing with stressful problems in your life, they still carry a good bit of baggage with them.

And these negative aspects of managing stress are rarely addressed by proponents within this industry.

For example, stress management techniques can be very time-consuming.  Many busy people can’t easily take 30 minutes twice a day to meditate, practice yoga, practice Tai Chi, or engage in other relaxation exercises.  And if these techniques are not practiced on a regular basis, they lose most of their effectiveness for relieving stress.

Similarly, the regular daily (or more than once a day) practice of stress management techniques requires long-term discipline and dedication that many people lack.  Even when people start out using these calming techniques with good intentions, their enthusiasm and commitment often wanes after several weeks or months.  And again, if these techniques are not used regularly, they can’t be effective for helping you deal with your stress.

Another major drawback of using stress management techniques is they often have limited benefits.  For example, if you are in a bad marriage or other type of relationship that is not going well, you can run around the block ten times every day or punch a punching bag to your heart’s content, but these efforts aren’t likely to help make your relationship improve.

So the next time someone tells you that the best way to deal with stress is to manage it, ask them if they’ve considered all the negatives of using this coping strategy.  My bet is they haven’t.

And we have yet to mention the most serious drawback of stress management…the one that should give you the most cause for concern.

We’ll cover that weakness in the next blog post in this series.



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