In this article I will outline very efficient stress management strategies and general self-help for stress.

People feel stressed for several reasons: firstly, they may experience conflicts and traumatic experiences of loss, which inflict massive amounts of stress on their lives. In most cases this type of stress subsides as time passes and life slowly returns to normality. However, there are many people who suffer from chronic stress that is not caused by any acute trauma or conflict. It is this chronic stress that we will be looking at in this article.

Why are people chronically stressed? Most people would think chronic stress is due to having too much work and too little time. In my experience the answer is not quite as straightforward. Yes, people who are stressed often have a diary bulging with urgent appointments with very little space between them. And if they are not at one of these meetings their personal life is chock-a-block with a massive amount of things which do not allow for a minute’s rest. Mind you, I am not talking about single mothers with five children who has to have two jobs to make ends meet. I am talking about chronically stressed people who work normal job hours and have normal-sized families. Why is it that so many people feel incredibly stressed in such a situation? In order to find the answer we have to look a little deeper than time management and organisation tools.

In my work as a Buddhist therapist I have noticed that there is one thing that many people fear like nothing else – this one thing is…..drums, please….empty time. The thought of spending even a single hour with nothing to do – no telly, no phone, no internet, no reading, no conversation nor anything else fills many people with an intense dread. I remember when I approached my first one-hourly meditation session 30 years ago – I was so afraid that I thought I would die! And it wasn’t even a still meditation – there was singing and music in it – and still I was terrified!

Ever since I have seen a similar fear of stillness in virtually all of my clients and meditation students. And it is the fearful avoidance of empty time and silence that is one of the main reasons why so many people are stressed. In an never-ending attempt to fill even the last minute of the day with activity and entertainment there is just no room for breathing left. There simply is no time to relax.

Our fear of stillness and emptiness can take many forms – there is the fear that we are useless and not needed by anyone else, fear of being forgotten and fear of loneliness and boredom. Usually, all these fears are rather unconscious if we are chronically stressed. However, if we would attempt to be completely alone and without any distraction for even one whole weekend these fears would become very apparent.

But no worry, in order to find effective stress management strategies we do not have to spend whole weekends by ourselves. However, it would be good to make time for stillness and silence for 20 to 30 minutes each day. You do not have to learn to meditate and you do not need any elaborate spiritual practice for this half hour. Just sit quietly by yourself and notice what is going through your mind. Notice particularly, all the reasons that come into your mind why sitting quietly for half an hour is ‘a waste of time’, ‘useless’ or whatever else you may tell yourself to avoid doing it. All you need to do is to envelop yourself with a feeling of love and goodwill just like a mother would send love to a child who has trouble settling down. Doing this is the most effective self-help for stress.

Once you become accustomed to quiet time you will fear it less and you may even start to like it. But most importantly, you will now become able to drop some of your overly stressful activities. You will not need them anymore in order to avoid the fear of quiet time. You are now much more comfortable with inner and outer space and so you can allow the possibility of empty time on your daily schedule. As you do this your feeling of being stressed and hurried will disappear.

For a more detailed and expanded explanation on how to manage with stress and self-help stress management strategies please refer to my book The Five-Minute Miracle.

Author's Bio: 

To receive Tara Springett's FREE eBook and more advice on self-help go to Tara Springett M.A is a fully qualified and authorised Buddhist Therapist and Teacher and self-help book author.