What Can I Do to Reduce Stress?
Nine ways to survive a crisis.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Often a critical incident can make an ordinary task seem overwhelming or too complex. Completing a project, for example, may seem too difficult. You can “partialize” a task by breaking a project up into smaller, more manageable chunks, Instead of focusing on the entire job, stay keyed in on completing each chunk.
Acknowledge your feelings. The first thing is to recognize your feelings. It’s a cliché, but true, that “feelings are not right or wrong, they just are". Pretending that you don’t feel afraid, anxious or sad does not mean that you are not feeling that way. Keeping your feelings in may result in more serious emotional, psychological or even medical problems. It is best to find safe, appropriate and healthy way of expressing and releasing your feelings. Your feelings are never a reason to hurt yourself or someone else.
Take your time. When you are stressed-out you may find it hard to focus on normal and routine things, so allow yourself plenty of time to complete tasks. This will reduce any self-imposed time pressure. Schedule tasks to include built-in time to take a break or to double check accuracy. Allowing plenty of time will prevent you from making mistakes and allow you complete your projects.
Get away from it all.There are times that you want to and should get away temporarily from whatever is causing the stress, if you can. You might escape by taking a short trip or losing yourself in a book or movie. There is nothing better to change your perceptions, refresh yourself and strengthen your inner resources to deal with life’s problems than a mini-vacation.
Share your burden. Feelings can be a heavy weight on you. Lighten that load by talking to a family member or close friend that can be a support to you. Other sources of support can be found among clergy, professional counselors or psychotherapists and community-based support groups. You may want to have a friend or family member stay with you for a day or so, if you are feeling especially vulnerable.
Relaxation, meditation and visualization. Permit yourself the luxury of relaxing. Numerous self-help books and audio discs instruct you in ways to relax and meditate. One common way is to sit quietly and focus your attention on your breathing, freeing your mind of other thoughts and exhaling for a longer time than you inhale. This slows your breathing and heart rate and relaxes the body. Spend time in meditation or prayer. Allow your mind and body time to slow down and relax. Close your eyes and visualize yourself at a favorite relaxing spot like a lush mountain meadow, a deserted beach or next to a babbling brook in a cool green forest.
Stick to normal routines. To the best of your ability maintain a normal schedule and routine.Try to avoid making major life decisions while you are under duress caused by stressful circumstance. Make daily decisions as you are able; this will give you a sense of control over your life. Be realistic. If major decisions must be made ask for the help of a trusted advisor, or see if those decisions can be postponed. Stick to regular routines for sleeping, meals personal care etc. Try to participate in your normal social and recreational activities, if you’re able to.
Stay within your capabilities. Some problems are beyond our control. If something cannot be changed, learn to accept it for what it is. For things within your control, remember that change takes time. Resist the urge to fix the unfixable. Think about the words of the Serenity Prayer which says, in part:”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time”
Nutrition and rest. Insomnia and loss of appetite may cause physical, emotional, and mental symptoms, such as fatigue, mood swings, poor memory and lack of focus. In times of stress you may not feel like sleeping or eating, but it is important to take good care of yourself by eating healthily, getting plenty of rest and keeping yourself well hydrated by drinking fluids. Moderate exercise, like walking or jogging might help too. Refrain from using alcoholic beverages, of course, do not abuse drugs of any kind.