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The History of Stress Management Therapy

Stress – it’s an unwelcome guest that has appeared in all our lives. We’ve all experienced short-term worries like a looming work deadline and longer-term stressors such as financial predicaments or personal struggles. Stress can wreak havoc on physical and psychological health, leaving us exhausted, apprehensive, and overwhelmed. So it’s no wonder that the art of managing stress has been a pursuit of humanity for centuries.

This article will explore the history of stress management therapy, from ancient practices that are still relevant today to emerging modern techniques and technology’s role in stress management.

What Does Stress Management Therapy Involve?

Stress management therapy encompasses vast techniques and practices to cope with mental pressure. This approach mitigates the adverse effects of stress and improves overall well-being. Stress management therapy provides the tools to manage stress effectively and prevent it from taking over your life. This therapy comprises traditional and modern methods. Either way, techniques help individuals relax, refocus, and gain control over their stress levels and lead happier, healthier lives.

Ancient Stress Management Techniques

When stressed, our bodies go into overdrive – racing heart, tense muscles, fast breathing. It’s an evolutionary survival response, but our ancestors knew how to activate the “relaxation response” to counter it. While we may not face physical danger as often, challenging situations can still trigger stress responses. That’s why traditional stress management techniques are still relevant today.

Ancient stress management techniques that are still effective in the modern world include:

  • Herbal Remedies

Humans have used herbal remedies for centuries to promote relaxation. They contain elements that soothe the mind and body, such as chamomile and lavender, to help alleviate anxiety and tension. They’re a safe and effective alternative to pharmaceuticals if you want to manage stress naturally.

  • Massage Therapy

person getting a massage

Massages have existed for generations in various cultures worldwide, including Egypt, China, Japan, Greece, and India. They stimulate specific organs and release endorphins that relieve tension and stress.

  • Yoga 

Yoga was initially practiced in India for thousands of years. The eight-limb practice includes breathing, diet, and mindfulness and can serve as a path to a meaningful life. In addition to providing strength and flexibility, healthcare professionals increasingly recommend yoga as a stress and anxiety relief technique.

  • Meditation

Mindfulness practices have aided stress management for years since the age of Buddha. For example, focusing on your breath for a few moments can inhibit cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase oxytocin, the happiness and love hormone. Meditation can also reshape your brain to handle life’s challenges better.

  • Saunas

Saunas have served as a form of stress relief and relaxation for centuries. A sauna session can relieve muscle tension and stimulate endorphins for a sense of calm. Moreover, regular sauna use can increase blood flow and oxygenation, improve sleep quality, reduce stress levels, and enhance cardiovascular health.

  • Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese medicine has used this natural and holistic stress management method for centuries. Despite using needles, it’s painless and can provide much-desired relaxation time. In addition, it has no side effects and can reduce the levels of stress hormones to decrease anxiety and improve your mood.

Modern Stress Management Therapies

As we continue learning about the complex mechanisms of the human mind and body, we discover new ways to handle stress and anxiety. The options are endless, from virtual reality therapy to biofeedback devices and mindfulness apps.

Let’s explore the most promising modern stress management therapies that you can try today to find your inner peace and restore your balance:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) encompasses mindful meditation, yoga, and body awareness to regulate stress. It effectively reduces anxiety and depression and improves overall well-being.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy focusing on accepting difficult thoughts and feelings and taking action based on personal values. The practice effectively eliminates symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR leverages eye movements and sounds to stimulate both sides of the brain while recalling negative experiences. It activates the brain’s healing and reduces the intensity of adverse emotions associated with such experiences. EMDR has been found effective in treating PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

  • Emotional Freedom Technique

While EMDR is a way to deal with PTSD and depression, it’s more effective for a single trauma than multiple traumas. For many people, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is more effective when dealing with multiple traumas. This technique involves tapping specific meridian points on the body while focusing on a negative thought. It is believed to balance the body’s energy and reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.

The Role of Technology in Stress Management

Technology is not typically associated with healing or stress management, but recent innovations have enabled tech to help improve meditation practices, encourage healthy sleep patterns, and motivate us to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.

For instance, your phone can become a helpful stress management resource at your fingertips. Apps like Headspace or Finch are effective in managing stress and anxiety. Stress management through games is also powerful. These immersive activities release dopamine (the happy hormone), which can help you feel good and cope with the stresses of everyday life. In addition, gaming can promote self-care, skill-building, problem-solving skills, cooperative connections, emotional awareness, and coping strategies.

Technology has also enabled the development of accessories for stress relief and sleep improvement, such as devices that track sleep and wake cycles and heart rates. These accessories can help you monitor your symptoms and proactively manage stress levels.


Stress management has progressed immensely since ancient times, and our knowledge of its causes and effects has improved. We can significantly enhance our overall well being by combining ancient practices with modern innovations.