Everyone experiences stress at some point or another. Some may say, “oh it’s not that big of a deal, just calm down,” but unfortunately, it’s not easy, or even possible, to just “destress” on command. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help cope with stress, and make it easier to handle.
Things to remember…
- Although feelings and thoughts can be scary or frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful themselves.
- What you are experiencing very well may be an exaggeration of your normal bodily reactions to stress (especially if you are prone to panic attacks)
- Do not fight your feelings, or try to “wish” them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will become.
- Do not add to your panic by thinking about what “might” happen. If you find yourself asking “What If”, tell your self, “So What!” Albert Ellis, founder of Rational-Emotive Therapy called this “Musterbation”.
- Most of what we worry about when we catastrophize never ends up happening
- STAY IN THE PRESENT! Notice what is actually happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
“I can tolerate uncertainty for short periods of time. The situation I am in is only temporary and it will soon be over. My motto is ‘this too shall pass’”“I am doing the best I can. I allow myself to be imperfect and the mistakes I make are merely learning experiences. I am willing to learn new things throughout my life.”“I am resilient and resourceful. I have MANY strengths but when I need help, I can draw upon others strengths and explore new options.”“I will continue to feel fear but instead of being paralyzed by fear, I can allow it to motivate me to try new things. When I work through my fear and keep moving, I can build confidence in my abilities”
- remove yourself from the situation
- practice deep breathing and relaxation
- go for a walk
- take a bubble bath
- use humor to deflect tension
- pay with your pets
- discuss the situation later when feeling calm
One thing I have often found with patients who smoke, is they explain when they are stressed, and the need to go calm down, they go outside and smoke. One of the reasons people use this so often as a coping mechanism, is because you’re leaving the situation, and you are taking deep breaths. You don’t take quick shallow breaths when smoking a cigarette, you breathe slow and deeply. Well, there are 2 things on the list right there. Not that I am advocating smoking, I believe you can do these things without smoking a cigarette, but this is sometimes one of the reasons people with anxiety have such a difficult time stopping smoking.
- If I look for other’s strengths, I will find them. If I look for others’ shortcomings, I will find them
- Allowing myself to appear vulnerable is the first step towards establishing intimacy. Sharing my vulnerabilities allows others to share their own.Intimacy is based on trust. The person who pretends to be perfect, cannot be trusted.
- I choose to be responsible for my own behavior, but I cannot chose how others behave towards me. I can persuade, over guidance, and hope that others will respond to me favorably, but other people’s behavior is not my responsibility.
- I look for “win-win” outcomes, rather than “win-lose” or “lose-lose” outcomes. In other words, I strive for outcomes in which I get my needs met and the other person gets his or her needs met as well. “Win-Win” outcomes are about cooperation and compromise, not about competition.
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.