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How To Manage Stress: A Case Study

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MoHow   By Dr. MO   Bob is a business manager. He and his wife Gwen are 53 years old and they have been married for 30 years. Bob generally left for work at 7:00 Am and got home between 7:30 and 8:00 PM. He often ate a dinner reheated in the microwave oven alone.

Bob always brought work home to do in the evening from the office. He began to work right after he completed his meal. Gwen would eat on her own at about 6:30 PM and would usually go to bed by herself at around 11:30 PM, and she woke up for any reason she’d often find Bob asleep at his desk. They had little or no social or recreational life because Bob was either at work or exhausted. They hadn’t been on a “real” vacation in seven years.

Bob was referred to me by his family doctor and came to see me five months after the initial referral. After a first session in which we reviewed his situation, I suggested he return with Gwen. I met with them as a couple and then separately to take detailed histories and so they could raise issues they might have felt uneasy discussing together.

Gwen said that for 10 years they had experienced sexual difficulties that had started when Bob began working the longer hours. They spent less time together, their relationship had become more and more strained, their love making waned and they were having sex very rarely. Bob worried that he was impotent and Gwen thought the problem was due Bob no longer finding her attractive.

When I saw Bob alone he did not seem depressed and I decided to begin Cognitive Training with him to deal with his Stress and it’s impact on his relationship and sexual difficulties with Gwen.

I met with he couple weekly for three months, working principally with Bob. We discussed his workload, stress, his difficulty managing time, and the negative consequences that were being visited on his health, Gwen’s health, and on their relationship.

Bob realized that he had to change some basic aspects of how he was conducting his life and make some new choices. We agreed on some steps he needed to take. The first step was Bob learning the basics Momentum Mind Thinking that helped him become a more responsible and healthy thinker. The couple then proceeded to follow a Stress Beater Program I designed for them. Here it is:

1. Learn how to better manage your time. Do your work during the workday. Make this feasible by taking on fewer tasks and setting work and home boundaries.

2. Learn to be more assertive. Use this skill so that you can be more comfortable expressing your thoughts, needs and wishes, and more able to say “no”, without feeling afraid, or guilty.

3. Don’t let your daily meeting and assignment schedule drag. Book your your last appointment or meeting one hour earlier than you want to leave the office so that even if you are running behind schedule you can leave for home on time.

4. Breathe away your stress. Several times a day, slowly inhale through your nose, fill your lower lungs an diaphragm, let your abdomen expand and feel the invigoration of the full breath. The exhale slowly through your mouth and imagine you are breathing out your stress.

5. Eat dinner at home with your family. Schedule to be at home  for a meal with your wife and children at least three week nights.

6. Schedule non-work vacations. Take at least two vacations with your spouse and children per year.

As a result of using new thinking skills and following the program, Bob’s work stress was lowered, the couple’s communication improved, their sexual problems eased and marriage improved greatly. Bob and Gwen have continued to meet with me four times a year for check-ups and refresher sessions. They now do it from the comfort of their home using a simple video conferencing system.

This couple addressed a serious problem, took the steps necessary, solved the problem and by continuing their commitment over the long term, Maintaining Momentum, they are now on a long and positive journey together.

 

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