Harvard Releases New Report On Stress Management

Stress Management - Approaches for Preventing and Reducing Stress, by Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical SchoolFrequently late?
Often angry or irritated?
Unsure of your ability to do something?
Not enough time for stress relief?

A new report by Harvard Medical School, Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress, “can help you identify your stress warning signs and learn how to better manage stressful situations.”

According to the publisher, Harvard Health Publications, “While some stress is inevitable, when your body repeatedly encounters a set of physiological changes dubbed the stress response, trouble can brew. Stress may contribute to or exacerbate various health problems, including these: high blood pressure, suppression of the immune system, headaches, insomnia, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.”

But, the good news from the new report is that “it’s possible to dismantle negative stress cycles.”

The report contains “a variety of tools you can use to accomplish that task,” its editors say. In addition, the report includes a “four-page portable section that walks you through a variety of quick, easy stress relief techniques.”


Following is the Table of Contents of the new Harvard Report:

  1. Understanding the stress response
    • What is stress?
    • The positive side of stress
    • The toll of stress on your body and mind
  2. Stress in your life
    • The major life event stress scale
    • Recognizing the early signals
    • Unhealthy responses to stress
  3. How to prevent and manage stress
    • Producing the relaxation response
    • Breath focus
    • Body scan
    • Guided imagery
    • Mindfulness meditation
    • Proper nutrition
    • Exercise
    • Cognitive restructuring: You are what you think
    • The role of positive psychology
    • Communicating better
    • Social support
    • Nurturing yourself
    • Journals: Easing stress the write way
  4. The different faces of stress
    • Gender and stress
    • Age and stress
    • Caregiving and stress
    • Work and stress
  5. How stress affects the body
    • Stress and cardiovascular disease
    • Stress and cancer
    • Stress and high blood pressure
    • Stress and the immune system
    • Stress and asthma
    • Stress and gastrointestinal disorders
  6. SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Your portable guide to stress relief
  7. Resources
  8. Glossary

Tips for Stress Relief – From the Report

Following is an excerpt from the report, made available by the publisher, which provides some suggestions for stress relief made by the Harvard authors:

“1. Frequently late? Apply time management principles. Consider your priorities (be sure to include time for yourself) and delegate or discard unnecessary tasks. Map out your day, segment by segment, setting aside time for different tasks, such as writing or phone calls. If you are overly optimistic about travel time, consistently give yourself an extra 15 minutes or more to get to your destinations. If lateness stems from dragging your heels, consider the underlying issue. Are you anxious about what will happen after you get to work or to a social event, for example? Or maybe you’re trying to jam too many tasks into too little time.

2. Often angry or irritated? Consider the weight of cognitive distortions. Are you magnifying a problem, leaping to conclusions, or applying emotional reasoning? Take the time to stop, breathe, reflect, and choose (see “Deflate cognitive distortions,” page XX).

3. Unsure of your ability to do something? Don’t try to go it alone. If the problem is work, talk to a co-worker or supportive boss. Ask a knowledgeable friend or call the local library or an organization that can supply the information you need. Write down other ways that you might get the answers or skills you need. Turn to CDs, books, or classes, for example, if you need a little tutoring. This works equally well when you’re learning relaxation response techniques, too.

4. Overextended? Clear the deck of at least one time-consuming household task. Hire a housecleaning service, shop for groceries through the Internet, convene a family meeting to consider who can take on certain jobs, or barter with or pay teens for work around the house and yard. Consider what is truly essential and important to you and what might take a backseat right now.

5. Not enough time for stress relief? Try mini-relaxations (see page XX). Or make a commitment to yourself to pare down your schedule for just one week so you can practice evoking the relaxation response every day. Slowing down to pay attention to just one task or pleasure at hand is an excellent method of stress relief.”

The report was prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Herbert Benson, M.D., Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Mind/Body Medical Institute Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Aggie Casey, M.S., R.N., Director of the Cardiac Wellness Programs, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Associate in Medicineat Harvard Medical School.

The report, is available for purchase online ($18.00 for PDF, $20.00 for print copy, $29.00 for both) from Harvard Health Publications: Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress.

More Information

For more information on stress management for caregivers, see the HelpingYouCare® resource pages on OurTimeForCare™ – Caregiver Self-Care, Stress Management, Inspiration & Humor, including:


Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare®. All rights reserved.


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