Stress is like a lot of things in this life: at the right times and in the right amounts it will help you more than anything you can imagine; but if it's too intense or lasts too long, it will kill you.
So the trick with the stress response is to learn how to use it.
The stress response is a profound physiological event. Your heart pumps faster. Your arteries carry more blood to your muscles, heart and brain. You're stronger and quicker. Your pain threshold goes up. The blood flow to your extremities is reduced. What's going on? What's going on is that you're facing a threat or a demand for action that is going to be hard and your body is giving you the energy and strength to do what needs to be done.
But if you don't take action and do what needs to be done; if you avoid doing what has to be done; if, instead of taking action you try to think yourself out of it or go on vacation or self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, you're going to get sick and be in a world of hurt.
So it turns out that the first principle of stress management is:
Never Seek Comfort Or Avoid Discomfort
Because, if you seek comfort, you won't do what needs to be done, the stress response will still be there, the energy in it will be trapped in your body and you'll get sick. And, if the stress response stays with you for a long time, you'll get very depressed and desperate.
The hard part is figuring out what it is that has triggered the stress response because, often it is a threat or a demand for action that is so difficult that you don't even want to know about it.
Al Galves is a psychologist who will teach you how to figure out what is triggering the stress response and use it to take the action that needs to be taken or deal with the problem that needs to be dealt with - or decide not to deal with it and do other things to manage your stress. Through reading his book Lighten Up: Dance With Your Dark Side (in press - to be published in January, 2007) and attending his workshops, you'll learn how to turn stress into a tool and keep it from hurting you.