--Original published at Isabella's Psychology Blog
Evaluating Stress Management Websites
Stress is a part of daily life. Many people struggle with dealing with stress. Fortunately, there are stress management strategies. Many stress management strategies are published online along with other stress management advice. Websites hosting information about stress management have different target audiences. Using real stress management techniques from psychology, three websites with different target audiences will have their stress management content evaluated.
Help Guide Website
Help Guide is a website which tries to help people with a range of mental and emotional problems. The website’s target audience is people with mental and emotional problems. Stress is one of the website’s main topics. Stress Management is a subtopic to Stress. This subtopic has three authors, Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, and Robert Segal. (Robinson) Lawrence Robinson is a senior writer of Help Guide and has over twenty years of writing experience about health and fitness. Melinda Smith has a masters degree in psychology and is the editorial director and senior writer of Help Guide. Robert Segal has a masters degree in educational psychology and is the executive director of the website Help Guide. Based on the authors of the subtopic of the website I find the subtopic to be very credible. Most of the authors had a master degree in psychology, and all authors were important people in the Help Guide company (About Us).
The subtopic of Stress Management is made up of seven tips for stress management. Tip one is to find the stress; done by evaluating yourself by keeping a stress journal and access ones habits and attitude. The second tip is using a technique called the 4 A’ which stand for avoiding stress, alter situations, adapt to stressors, and accepting some stressors are unavoidable. Each of these four steps is broken down into smaller steps which are easier to complete. Being active is the third tip. The site recommends thirty minutes of exercise a day but recognizes even small activities can help relieve stress. Connecting with other people is the fourth tip; the website even recommends ways to build relationships. Tip five is to make time for yourself and to have fun. Improving time management skills is the sixth tip; done by not over-committing, prioritizing tasks, getting help, and breaking up tasks. The seventh tip is to live a healthy lifestyle through diet, abstaining from harmful substances, and sleeping. Then the final tip is to relieve stress at the moment (Robinson).
The first tip was good advice since it is half of problem-focused coping. Problem-focused coping is getting rid of stress by changing the stressor or our response to the stressor. So by identifying the stress, one is part way done with changing the stressor and our response to it. Tip two is very close to changing the stressor since it includes altering situations. Then adapting and accepting stressors one is changing their response to the stressor. Improving time management skills is a problem-focused-coping since time management helps eliminate stressors (Myers 406-437).
The third tip of being active was great advice since exercise helps alleviate depression and anxiety. Even a short walk can create two hours of feeling better. Connecting with other people is good advice since a support system of people can help with stress management. Making time for yourself is a valid stress management technique since relaxing reduces depression, anxiety, and even headaches. Relaxing at the moment requires calming down through relaxation techniques. Then sleeping and eating well are also good for living a happy life since it makes the body healthy (Myers 406-437).
American Heart Association Website
The American Heart Association is a famous organization dedicated to helping people fight against heart disease and stroke. When it comes to fighting heart disease one of the important things a person has to do is manage stress. The American Heart Association put stress management as one of its main topics. The Stress Management topic page has a couple of articles and two infographics. After looking through the stress management articles and infographics, most of the stress management information on the website are summarised in the article “3 Tips to Manage Stress”. None of the website content had an author’s name, but the information is considered credible because it is published by a credible company (Stress Management).
The stress management advice the American Heart Association gives is separated into three different steps: positive self-talk, immediate de-stressors, and stress relieving activities. Positive self-talk is being nicer to yourself and thinking optimistically. Immediate de-stressors are counting to ten, take deep breaths, go on a walk, meditate, sleep on non-urgent stressors, take a break from the stressor, break down large problems, listen to relaxing music, hug someone, and workout. Stress relieving activities are being creative, read, connect with others, play sports, listen to music, meditate, and self-care (3 Tips).
The American Heart Association was focused mostly on emotion-focused coping. Emotion-focused coping is attending to the emotional needs created by the stressor but ignoring the stressor. Stress is eliminated by aerobic exercise, relaxation, meditation, and active spirituality. Immediate de-stressors and stress relieving activities closely related to meditation, relaxation, and exercise. Positive self-talk is also useful for stress management because it makes a person more like an optimist. Optimism is good for stress management because optimists are happier and react better to stress than pessimists (Myers 406-437).
Positive Psychology Website
Positive Psychology Program is a website which provides stress management resources ranging from paid courses to blogs. The website’s target audiences are people trying to become more positive and people becoming educated in positive psychology. One of the topics of positive psychology is stress management. One of the available articles about stress management is “62 Stress Management Techniques & Tips To Prevent A Burnout” by Amba Brown. Amba Brown is a credible author since she has degrees in both psychology and sociology. She has also authored books and presented a TEDx talk about major life transitions (Brown). These major life transitions are stressful times since even happy life changes cause a person stress (Myers 406-437).
The stress management content on the Positive Psychology Program website starts by defining stress management and stress in general. Then the article goes into information about stress and burnout. Next, the article goes into the “62 stress management techniques” it had collected from various resources. Some of these techniques even have videos to go along with them. The first set of technique given are understand stress, identify stress, recognize stress, recognize stress strategies, takes self-care, and ask for help (Brown).
Most of these techniques are problem-focused coping, which is reducing stress by changing the stressor directly. The only exception is taking self-care which is emotion-focused coping, which reduces stress by ignoring the stressor to focus on the emotional needs caused by the stressor (Myers 406-437).
The second round of techniques used three categories of stress management strategies which were action-oriented, emotion-oriented, and acceptance-orientated. Action-oriented approaches are being assertive, reduce surrounding noise, manage time, say no to others, and calming thoughts. Emotion-oriented approaches are giving yourself positive affirmations, challenge negative emotions, and use the ABC’s method. The ABC method is recognizing adversity, react with positive beliefs, and accepting the consequences of the adversity. Acceptance-oriented approaches are having a healthy diet, exercising, meditating, build resilience, talk to others, and get a good night’s sleep (Brown).
In psychology, there is (action) problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. Action/problem-focused coping is reducing stress by changing the stressor. The website used good examples that fit the definition. Emotion-focused coping is reducing stress by ignoring the stressor and focusing on the emotional reaction. Trying to be more positive and accepting of the stressor like the website suggested focuses on the emotion side of stress done by emotion-focused coping. Acceptance is not a coping strategy, but it is made up of many useful stress management techniques. Meditation, exercise, and relaxation are three of the four major concepts that reduce stress. Social support gives people calm and open heart therapy, where one can talk to others about stress. Eating healthy and sleeping well make the body healthy and reduces stress (Myers 406-437).
The third set of techniques is for stress management at work by setting realistic deadlines, take breaks, create a work-life balance, and going to therapy. Then the final set of techniques is to perform de-stressing activities like breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music, giving yourself hand massage, then focus on each of your five senses for a minute each. (Brown)
The advice in the third and fourth set of stress management techniques was also useful. Setting realistic deadlines was problem-focused coping, and then most the rest of the techniques were emotion-focused coping. Giving yourself a hand massage and focusing on each of your senses for a minute are not methods of relaxation I am familiar with when it comes to reducing stress. Since I have never heard of these stress management techniques anywhere else, I do not recommend these two methods of relaxation for stress management (Myers 406-437).
Based on my evaluation of the three websites I found them overall useful and full of good stress management techniques. There may be a few weird results like giving yourself a hand massage, but there was also very good advice. Useful stress management techniques are repeated more frequently than the rare questionable stress management technique.
Links to websites:
“3 Tips to Manage Stress.” Heart.org, American Heart Association , June 2014, http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/3-tips-to-manage-stress.
“About Us.” Help Guide, Help Guide, www.helpguide.org/misc/about-us.htm.
Brown, Amba. “62 Stress Management Techniques & Tips To Prevent A Burnout.” Positive Psychology Program, Positive Psychology Program, 23 Feb. 2018, positivepsychologyprogram.com/stress-management-techniques-tips-burn-out/.
Myers, David G. ”Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing” Exploring Psychology, 10th Edition. Worth Publishers, 2016. [Chegg].
Robinson, Lawrence, et al. “Stress Management.” Help Guide, Help Guide, Sept. 2018, www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm.
“Stress Management.” heart.org, American Heart Association, http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management.