Undoubtedly, in these difficult times that humanity is going through, keeping cool, calm and collected is of paramount importance so as to protect one’s health, to maintain one’s productivity and, of course, to enjoy a quality of life. The advice given herebelow aims at enabling you to achieve all the forementioned.
Short-Term Ways to Handle Stress
- Relax where you are. Sitting in a comfortable position, place your left hand over your navel and rest your right hand on top of your left. Breathe deeply through your nose, feeling your hands rise as your abdomen fills with air. Still inhaling, count to three and feel your chest expand. Hold your breath momentarily, then release it. Repeat four times, but stop if you become light- headed.
- Take a break. Get some exercise or fresh air, or go somewhere private and yell and cry.
- Ask yourself whether it is worth being upset over the situation. You can choose to stay calm and ignore it. If the issue is important, confront it directly, talk it out with a sympathetic friend, or write it out in a letter that you do not send.
- List all the things you think you need to do right away. Then, prioritise the list and only do the top few. The rest can be first priority tomorrow.
Long-Term Ways to Handle Stress
- Seek your own stress level. Strive for excellence within your limits.
- Choose your own goals. Don’t live out choices others have made for you.
- Become part of a support system. Look out for yourself by letting friends help you when you are under too much stress and by helping when they are overloaded.
- Think positive. Your mind sends signals to your body to prepare for danger whenever you think about possible negative outcomes and you become tense regardless of whether the event happens.
- Make decisions. You can learn to live with the consequences or change your mind. In general, any decision – even consciously deciding to do nothing – is better than none.
- Keep your expectations realistic. Do not expect perfection from yourself or others. Expect some problems reaching your goals and realise that you can solve most of them with practice.
- Accept what you cannot change. If a problem is beyond your control, you are better off accepting it for now than spinning your wheels.
- Anticipate potentially stressful situations and prepare for them. Decide whether the situation is one you should deal with, postpone or avoid. If you decide to deal with the situation, practice what you will say and do.
- Live in the present. Learn from the past and move on.
- Manage your time. Prioritising and planning can keep the demands of college/professional life from becoming overwhelming.
- Take care of your health. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and avoid alcohol and other mood-altering drugs.
- Take time for yourself. Make yourself your priority. Find time to relax – even if only for a few minutes – every day.
Written by Gabriella Philippou, Psychotherapist-Counsellor, Focusing Experiential Therapist, Trainer, Coach