Stressful situations – what to do and what not to dotweet
Managing stress and stressful situations is is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and of course the way you deal with problems but until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control and you will not be able to take charge.
Stress making you reach for the bottle?
Many behaviors that increase in times of stress are actually very negative. These could be taking drugs, sleeping pills or pain medication; turning to alcohol; taking up or increasing a smoking habit; overeating or just as harmful under eating; withdrawing from friends, family and activities; sleeping too much or sleeping badly (insomnia); taking out your stress on others; procrastinating; or escaping by lying on the couch for hours watching TV. These habits are not going to help but will actually make the stress worse.
Stuck in traffic?
Commuters who regularly get stuck in traffic jams when driving can experience as much as a 64% hike in their general stress levels. One way to cope is to keep repeating a calming mantra to yourself – perhaps a bit like saying a prayer or reciting the rosary. Adapt what you say to your own particular spiritual or religious beliefs. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station or enjoy some alone time.
Feeling particularly miserable?
Laughter is a great way to cure the blues. If you cannot get together with friends who you know will make you laugh, then watch a comedy movie or a stand up comic that you enjoy to get the laughter going and to release a whole host of hormones and chemicals that can only have a positive effect on your misery. Your stress will be reduced, your blood pressure will drop, your immune system will be boosted and most of all your depression will be lifted. You also need to learn to laugh at yourself for additional benefits.
Are you pregnant and stressed?
All the more reason to find a solution for that stress because babies who are born to stressed mothers can arrive earlier than they should and could be underweight.
And once your baby is born?
Babies however young can be very perceptive to emotional displays by their mothers and could be emotionally affected for years to come. Be aware of this and try to keep the environment stress-free for both you and your baby. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress especially when you are a new mom. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself at this, and other times, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
How to ease the stress?
- Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate. For example, learn how to say “no” by knowing your limits and stick to them; avoid people who stress you out; take control of your environment; avoid controversial topics such as religion or politics if you get upset over them; pare down your to-do list by distinguishing between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”
- Copy the British and enjoy a soothing cup of tea whenever the need arises. Even better is to follow the South African habit of brewing a cup of Rooibos tea which is widely used to enhance a feeling of well being while supporting the immune system and combating stress.
- Another stress reliever is to take up a repetitive task at such times – go out into the garden and start digging over the flower beds; pull up all those weeds; take the time to sit quietly and do some knitting; or say over and over again “I want to feel calm”.
- If you have the opportunity of getting into some warm water (a pool or a jacuzi or even the ocean) do this and just float in the water. This ignites the body’s relaxation responses while helping to lower the stress hormone levels. If you are warm, relaxed and floating, you will soon feel better.
- You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. Exercising regularly is another key way to reduce and prevent the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.
- In addition, eat a healthy diet as a well nourished body is better prepared to cope with stress. At the same time, reduce caffeine and sugar.
Finally, get enough sleep because good, regular sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.