Managing stress well is key to managing many health and pain conditions and to improving quality of life for everyone.
Stress is a natural reaction to a particular kind of stimulus that is part of our bodies helpful response to a perceived threat or danger: At times we need a fight or flight reaction (e.g for leaping out of the way of an oncoming car!) However, when this perceived threat or danger is continuous or repetitive e.g. through worry (over our finances, health, family or work) or an ongoing physical demand (e.g. long hours sitting doing computer work) then it can lead to chronic stress.
Chronic stress is an almost continuous state of a low level fight or flight response.
This response can become so habitual that it can go under the radar. In other words, you don't necessarily notice or feel it. It can take a serious symptom to crop up before a person realises that they are stressed. For example, repeated head aches, back pain, anxiety, high blood pressure and a multitude of other symptoms.
So how can we tackle this without being able to change the causes of the stress?
We can learn to adjust our own response to the stimulus that is stressing us.
We can learn to notice when we are going into a stress response and go some way to preventing it by stopping the muscular tightening that occurs as part of our reaction. This has the effect of calming yourself and giving yourself the space to unwind. It becomes your deliberate response to a stressor rather than a habitual reaction.
It takes a bit of time to learn this skill but once you understand how then it's something you can use anytime, anywhere and put into effect immediately whenever you think of it.
Managing our stress response is at the core of the Alexander Technique and the reason why the technique is helpful for so many different things.