Coping with STRESS

During this recession, which seems to be going on forever, this is a most frequent concern of the people I see, those I speak with at social activities and strangers I read about online. Sometimes it seems as if we create our own stress, whether it be consciously or unconsciously.  Other times I see that it occurs as a result of businesses and it makes no difference whether it is for or not for profit.  People are being set up to be fired and this is becoming all to common. So what do you do?

  1. No matter what just know that your problem is NOT the end of the world.

2. Write down what you now need to accomplish to solve this problem. Take responsibility first for what did happen, what was going on in your life at the time and what can you do differently now to change the circumstances if possible – or to make your life more better.  Making your life more better means it is probably time to do something new.

3. Meditate, pray, stay in touch with your spiritual teacher. Whatever is ailing you this is not a time to blame the Gods for your problems.   Remember this issue that is causing your stress is a lesson in life.  We aren’t here on Earth for a good time but to become stronger and better humans. Once in a while we are put through very serious tests that really push us to the limit.  As Nietzsche said, that which does not destroy us will only make us stronger.  I would add, and better people for having gone through it successfully.

4. Eat healthy.  During stressful times this is not a time to eat desserts and then make jokes about how it is stressed spelled backwards.  Stress can be a signal from your body saying “Remember I’ve been telling you that we need better foods inside here.”

5. Exercise.  Even if you’ve been fired and can no longer afford the gym, you can still take a walk, jog, and in cold weather areas you can do yoga inside your house. A few pieces of equipment such as barbels, exercise balls, or workout videos – if need be are cheaper than a membership. Or look on-line for a workout routine and practice this.

6. Sleep.  Get a good nights rest but if you can’t sleep due to the stress here are some tips:

  • Take a bath in a few drops of lavender oil (or use the baby wash with this fragrance), sprinkle a few drops on your pillow too.
  • Keep a journal by your bed and write down what you need to do the following day – so you won’t forget.  If you wake up in the middle of sleep and can not return to rest, due to racing thoughts, write them down in your journal.  Write your dreams down in the journal.  Whatever is keeping you up or won’t let you sleep.
  • Read something relaxing before bed.
  • Get some tapes or a CD and listen to this before bed.  A friend I know listens to lectures – this puts them to sleep.  I recommend soothing music, classical, sounds of nature, anything that does not have lyrics, only instruments or natural sounds.
  • Do no use the Internet at least two-three hours before bed time.  I find this causes disturbances in trying to get to sleep because your mind is being so active.

7. Think about your spending habits and how they can be decreased substantially.  Don’t enter into any new contracts unless you absolutely must.  This means downsizing your living space and signing a new contract is okay but don’t consider buying a new car, house, or whatever else expense.  This new stress might have occurred because you were NOT meant to do this dream you were planning on right here and now.

8. Turn to family and friends. Yes people are going to “feel sorry” for you and that is what they are there for.  During stressful times this is when you find out who your real friends are and which family members are the most reliable.  When we don’t allow our friends and family to help us during stress, we are not allowing them to give to us.  This is extremely harmful and even emotionally abusive to them. Really good friends and family members want to feel needed.  They don’t want to be taken advantage of but they do enjoy giving.  If they are giving, it allows them to feel as if they are being a good person.  If you don’t want to take advantage of someone tell them “I need your help but I don’t want you to feel as if I am taking advantage.”  If they respond by saying “What can I do to help,” you have a conversation started.  If they say “I can’t do this but I can do that,” let them.  It will release a lot of your pressure. Don’t get caught up in the fact that they said “I can’t do this.” It is their life and they are setting limits with you.

9. Organize your day.  Especially if you have lost your job, but in any type of stress that is going on in your life, keep a schedule of what you will do each hour of the day.  Don’t forget meal breaks and “coffee” breaks.  If you are not good at doing this in your head, write it down on some paper.

10. Focus on a phrase.  Get an inspirational quote that moves you and keep that nearby so that you can focus on this every day.  When you have learned the lesson of the quote and moved on in your life, get another one.

11. Let it go.  Whatever caused the stress, at some point you have to shut the door on the issue.  By this I mean:

  • If it was a boy/girl friend, you need to stop calling, texting, emailing, etc… and begin to mourn the loss and move forward.
  • If it was a job loss, you have to settle whatever the issue was with the termination, lay-off, or quit and begin to forgive and forget.  I strongly believe that unless you forgive them for what they did to you, you won’t be able to move forward.  I don’t mean forgive in a Bible way, I mean learning something from the situation and don’t focus on the hate.
  • There are so many scenarios to consider here.  The main idea is learn something from the stress and move forward.  Whatever you do, DON’T try to hang on to controlling the stress as if it did not happen, or trying to turn the situation around to pretend it never happened.  If an event happened in your life, it was for a reason.  It was time for you to change your life.

12. Don’t turn to drugs or alcohol, or any other addictive substance.  This does not solve any problems, it only makes them worse.

13. Don’t turn against your partner (or children) and abuse them physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially.  This is your lesson and even if it effects both of you, you need to handle it together and individually.  It is your body, not theirs.  It is your life, not theirs. If they aren’t able to cope with you as a couple, this is a new task added to your crisis but at the same time, it is part of the whole. More decisions to be made.

The stress you are dealing with will not go away until you take responsibility for it and follow these steps to get through it.  Seeing a psychotherapist is of course a very important person to work with during this difficult time but talking about it isn’t enough. I always give my clients homework to do because it is not enough to get it off your chest, you have to continue focusing on yourself throughout the week.   This is the only way things will change or get better.  If I see people not doing the homework, not following the steps above, I don’t see any change in their lives. If I see people committed to getting through the issue, they do the work, they follow these steps and their lives begin to improve.

The choice is up to you.  The lesson was given to you because you were able and ready to handle it.  You WILL get through this and you WILL come out on the other side, a better person.  BUT first you must cope with the stress and these examples are a good way to get started. And remember NEVER give up!

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2 thoughts on “Coping with STRESS

  1. Excellent tips. I’ve found myself extremely stressed lately with school and numerous personal issues. I’m looking forward to taking your advice and seeing what difference it makes.

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