Stress Management Techniques:
Alternative Therapies 

Earth Day Yoga

Stress management techniques as we are learning a range from both mental and physical activities. 

It all very much depends on what suits your own personality the best and which you find most helpful in stress reduction in your life.

Alternative therapies or complimentary therapies are becoming more and more popular and have proved to be very successful at treating stress.

This is mainly because they have a holistic approach, i.e. they treat both the mind and the physical body, where as conventional medicine tends to focus on the actual present symptoms.

A healthy and strong body and mind is more likely to be able to cope with the daily stresses life has to throw at us.

The following list of alternative therapies is not exhaustive but they are the more popular and accessible therapies used as stress management techniques.

Only a brief description of each therapy is given as this is not the place for full explanations, it is designed to give you an introduction so that you can go on and discover the therapies for yourself.

Acupuncture and Acupressure

Useful in treating the following stress symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • Insomnia

These therapies are based on the belief that there are various energy lines which flow through our bodies. When these lines or channels become blocked due to stress, poor diet etc, your overall health is affected. To unblock these channels very fine needles are used in Acupuncture, or pressures with the fingers in acupressure are used to unblock these channels and allow the energy to flow again.

There has been some research that suggests that acupuncture causes the release of natural chemicals in the body which act like pain killers and relaxants and so causing stress reduction.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of natural fragrant oils for relaxation. This is one of the stress management techniques discussed under the stress relief techniques part of this workshop.

Ayurveda

This is one of the oldest holistic and stress management techniques in the world. It is an Indian medicine and the main belief behind the therapy is that the body is made up of five elements, earth, ether (space), fire, water and air. Which in turn make up three internal forces (doshas), which if become unbalanced due to stress or bad diet etc will cause illness.

In Ayurveda medicine several different techniques are used to help bring the three internal doshas back into balance, these are:

  • Diet
  • Meditation
  • Posture
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Herbal medicines

This is one of the stress management techniques which believes in prevention is better than cure and so Ayurveda should be incorporated into daily living to actually prevent stress from occurring at all.

Color Therapy

This therapy uses color to affect any imbalances in your energy vibrations caused by stress or ill health.

Every color has its own frequency of vibration as does every other living thing including our own bodies. When imbalance or disruption occurs in our energy vibrations, such as during stressful times or periods of ill health, it is believed that certain colors can help to re balance these energies.

Colors which help with stress reduction are:

  • Red – uplifting
  • Yellow – Helps with clear thinking and self control
  • Green – relieving nervous tension
  • Blue – calming
  • Indigo – reduces anger

The colors can be used:

  • In house decoration
  • In the clothes that you wear
  • In the colors you surround yourself with
  • In the color of the food you eat
  • Visualization

Homoeopathy

The belief behind this therapy is that natural substances which if taken at full strength would produce symptoms but when taken in a minute doses will cure those same symptoms. “Like cures like”.

It is believed that it works by boosting your own bodies healing processes. Homeopathy is prescribed according to individual symptoms, so there is not one remedy for stress as each person will experience different symptoms caused by stress. So each person will be prescribed a different collection of remedies to suit there own needs.

There are over 2000 different homeopathic remedies available and so even though you can try to treat yourself at home, ideally seeing a qualified practitioner would be a better option.

Bach Flower Remedies

Dr Edward Bach developed this alternative therapy and it was his belief that it was emotional stresses which caused physical symptoms to appear. He therefore classified seven main types of emotional problems which were in turn divided into sub categories of negative emotion. He then formulated remedies to correct these negative emotions.

As the name suggest the remedies themselves are all plant based and are usually bought in small bottles and contained in water and brandy to prevent deterioration. They can be taken directly onto the tongue or mixed with a drink.

As an example:

  • Rock rose – for extreme terror or panic
  • Cerato – for self doubt
  • Wild rose – for apathy
  • Impatiens – for irritability and impatient
  • Walnut – for stability during times of transition
  • Sweet chestnut – for when you have reached the end of your endurance

Hypnotherapy - Stress Management Techniques

This therapy is designed to relax your mind to such a level, that suggest can be made which will allow your body to heal itself, for instance that you are no longer afraid of spiders.

Hypnotherapy can be carried out either by trained therapists of with some simple self hypnosis methods. It is therefore one of the more accessible stress management techniques available.

A simple self hypnosis for relieving stress

  • Sit or lie in a warm and comfortable place where you will not be disturbed.
  • Roll your eyes up until you feel them straining and fix your eyes on one object on the ceiling
  • Whilst doing this, take a deep breath and hold it for a count of ten, then exhale fully. Repeat twice more
  • On the last deep breath relax your body and close your eyes.
  • Imagine that your body has become weightless and that you are slowly floating up.
  • Now imagine you are at the top of a hill and there are 10 steps leading down to the valley.
  • Now as you slowly move down the steps count slowly 1 to 10

When you reach the bottom think about the issue you want to solve and say to yourself positive things about it. For instance if you are very tense, you could say “I am feeling calm and relaxed, I no longer fee stressed”. “I can cope with ****** etc”. Repeat this over and over again; really feel the new positive emotions.

Remain in this state for 10 to 15 minutes then visualize yourself walking slowly back up the hill, counting 1 to 10 and when you reach the top of the hill you will feel refreshed and can open your eyes.

Therapies As Stress Management Techniques

These are just a few of the alternative therapies that are able to help with managing stress but not all of them will suit your own personality. Your local library should have lots of information about other therapies and also whether or not there are any local practitioners in your area.

› Alternative Therapies

Outside of the US? Find stress relief products in the UK and Canada.