Overcoming Obstacles to Treatment
Often people succeed in relieving stress for the short-term but resort to previous ways of stressful thinking and behaving because of outside pressure or entrenched beliefs or habits.
- One major obstacle to reducing stress is the strong biologic urge for fight or flight itself. The very idea of relaxation can feel threatening, because it is perceived as letting down one’s guard. For example, an over-demanding boss may put a subordinate into a psychologic state of fighting-readiness, even though there is no safe opportunity for the subordinate to fight back, or even express anger. Stress builds up, but the worker has the illusion, even subconsciously, that the stress itself is providing safety or preparedness, so does nothing to correct the condition.
- Many people are afraid of being perceived as selfish if they engage in stress-reducing activities that benefit only themselves. The truth is that self-sacrifice may be inappropriate and even damaging if the person making the sacrifice is unhappy, angry, or physically unwell.
- Many people believe that certain emotional responses to stress, such as anger, are innate and unchangeable features of personality. Research has shown, however, that with cognitive behavioral therapy, individuals can be taught to change their emotional reactions to stressful events.
It is essential to remember that reducing stress and staying relaxed clears the mind so it can initiate appropriate actions to get rid of the stress-ridden conditions.
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD