Stress Management

Hello, my name is Melanie Booth.

Welcome to this online session on Stress Management. I have studied stress and relaxation on two qualifying courses, that of Relaxation Therapist and Life Coaching.

I have my own business, Butterfly Holistic Services, where I give a range of massage therapies.

I like to think that a person flies free, like a butterfly, as a result of their treatments. I am also a writer of, “Melanie’s Memoirs: Bipolar and Me”, and have a second book, “Reflections of My Heart”, about to be published.

I am a volunteer at the Recovery College, having run holistic and relaxation courses there for almost 4 years. I like to give something back and the Recovery College has aided and helped me in my development.

The Four Stages of the Stress Cycle

Stress can create both physical and mental difficulties. Physical includes headaches, muscle strain – aches and pains, which if left untreated can possibly lead to heart attacks and strokes. Mental includes anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

The way to both physical and mental wellbeing, and the reduction of stress is to find ways to relax. Having time out for me isn’t selfish but necessary and vital if we are to function well and give out to others.

Here are the Four Stages that are occur when you experience stress:


Your thoughts, especially negative ones, can cause stress.


Negative emotions result from negative thoughts. A thought can trigger an emotion.

Chemical reactions

A thought sends impulses to the adrenal glands, which release several different chemicals to the body.

Physical Symptoms

These range from mild to strong. Greater when the emotion is intense.

By looking at this cycle, it is important to deal with Stage 1 – the thought processes and the way you think about life. This is where the beginnings of stress start. Even when a person can’t change their situation, they can be helped to change their attitude to it. (Reframing and Future Perspective).

How to Reframe a Negative Mindset and Shift Your Perspective

1. Tap into your support system.

2. Give yourself a pep talk.

3. Hit your mental “delete” button.

4. Laugh.

5. Carve out “remembering time”

6. Repeat a calming mantra.

7. Send flowers to a friend.

Here are some Examples...

Life is filled with unpredictable ups and downs that will inevitably promote stress. One suggestion is to change your interpretation of the situation for example. Consider the following scenario:

You are driving on a busy highway and Someone cuts right in front of you then slows down

How do you interpret this situation??

If you said:

“I would probably Yell, ‘IDIOT!’ at the top of my lungs.”


“I would be irritated and likely have negative thoughts about the driver.”

Then you have just initiated the “Fight or Flight” response.

Your heart is beating faster, sugar is filling your veins and in the next several hours your immune system will function a little less efficiently

If you said:

“That person must not have been paying attention, we all make mistakes.”


“I’ll be glad when I can pass, but it is no big deal.”


“I am glad that I am not in a hurry.”

Then you are stopping the stress response before it even starts.

Consider that it is possible that you do not have all the information to make a decision about the person or situation.

For example,…

What if you found out that the person who cut you off in traffic was rushing to the hospital to visit a sick relative. And he just received a beep on his pager with the message “999”. Was he slowing down because he was distracted by the news?

How does this change your interpretation?

The main goal of reframing is to refashion negative thoughts and to turn them into positive ones.

Stress might not be eliminated, but it can be managed. We all deserve better, so once we believe this, the necessary steps towards leading a happier existence, can be taken.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation Techniques: There are many different relaxation techniques that can be used to combat stress. The common threads that run through them are that:

1) they are calm

2) improve the breathing

3) relax the muscles

4) clear the mind.

It's highly recommended that anyone feeling the effects of stress practice at least one relaxation technique every day. This can be a simple as taking a five-minute break for breathing and stretching exercises, to taking part in longer periods of meditation or massage.

It is also important for all of us to take breaks during our working day, as this increases our cognitive ability, that is, our ability to reason, solve problems and be creative. Many people who say that they are too busy to take a lunch break do not realise how much their productivity decreases during the afternoon without one.


Sleep is often one of the first aspects of our lives to become affected when we are stressed but protecting the quality of our sleep is crucial to our health and happiness. If you have trouble falling asleep, wake frequently during the night, or wake early and cannot get back to sleep, I encourage these tips:

1) Reduce caffeine intake, especially after 5.00pm.

2) Reduce alcohol consumption, as it increases sleep, the lightest and least productive sleep. It also gives disordered REM (dreaming) sleep, which causes that feeling of confusion in the morning.

3) Take regular exercise.

4) Use relaxation techniques during the day and in bed.

5) Treat the bedroom as a sanctuary - no work in the bedroom! It is a place for relaxation and sleep. Have peaceful surroundings.

6) Have a wind-down ritual such as a warm, milky drink or a bath with aromatherapy oils.


Relaxation Techniques

Breathing techniques – learn to breathe correctly, from the abdomen.

Belly breathing

1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.

2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.

3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. ...

4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. ...

5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times.

Meditation (Mindfulness) and Visualisation.

Feel calm, relaxed and present in no time. This short but effective meditation will quickly help you to be calm, centred and focused.

Other Methods

Have a relaxing massage, a footbath, a pampering bath with favourite bath cream or aromatherapy oils, having a delicious meal.

Look after your body

Have a relaxing massage, a footbath, a pampering bath with favourite bath cream or aromatherapy oils, having a delicious meal.

Eat Healthily

Become aware of more nutritious eating.


Gentle exercise, walking or yoga or Pilates. Dancing, such as Zumba or Fitsteps. Can be a real stress reliever.

Be in nature

Go for a walk in a park or by the sea, gardening, smell a flower. Being close to nature can relieve stress and make us feel one and at peace.

Get creative

Do something you enjoy – dancing, gardening, craft activities, colouring.


Find ways to add laughter in your life. 
Buy tapes of comedians you like and listen to them during your day or whenever you need a boost.
 Read joke books or funny books. 
Watch your favorite comedy on television
Buy movies that are sure to make you laugh.

------ and don't take yourself too seriously ------