Steps to Managing Stress
Here are some things that you can do to get control over yourself in a crisis so that you can be effective in dealing with it.
- Break down the "Big Job" that you are facing into small components. To deal with a crisis situation and not be overwhelmed, you may need to look at the situation from a different perspective. What do you need to do to deal with the situation? You may need to make a list of the different "work assignments" you need to accomplish each day. You may need to carry this list with you or post it someplace where you can keep track of it, and even go to the point of checking things off when they are done. Handling a crisis involves structuring your time and your life. This process will give you a sense of control over the situation. The list will also give you clear feedback as to what you have accomplished and what still remains.
- Become more aware of your surroundings. This involves slowing down your pace and your conversation. It means observing more of your surroundings and reorienting yourself to a slower and more relaxed pace. Slow down, look and listen.
- When you feel overwhelmed. temporarily remove yourself from the situation with which you are dealing. Once you have allowed yourself to relax and your muscles to rest, you will be able to seek better solutions to the problems that you confront.
- Maintain a reasonable diet. Three "good" meals a day are important for all of us, especially during difficult times. A number of research studies have suggested that individuals who have three meals a day, especially breakfast, live longer and healthier lives. Avoid junk food and try to eat a balanced diet. This is important. Listen to your body. If you attend to your body's reaction to food intake, you will see the importance of regular and balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly and moderately. This may be hard with a disability. Be creative. This is especially important when you are dealing with a difficult situation. Exercise can be a way of burning off the anger and tension that you are feeling. Again, research has suggested that those that exercise on a regular basis, meaning two to three times a week for at least thirty minutes at a time, tend to live longer and healthier lives than those who do not. Don't neglect these things because you are upset by the crisis. But don't overdo exercise. Moderation is the key.
- Give up your addictions. It is especially tempting during a crisis situation to smoke more, use more medications, or to drink more. Unfortunately, drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, and some tranquilizing medications can produce a sense of well-being, and to some degree depress the body's normal reaction to stress. However, the use of such drugs to produce these affects ultimately can be quite damaging to you physically and mentally. I am aware that the decision to give up smoking during a crisis situation is probably not the best time, but it certainly is a time to smoke less and to avoid the use of alcohol and the excessive use of medications. This is not to say that tranquilizers or sleeping medication should not be used, but they generally should be used for only short periods of time. Most of us are capable of learning to control our sleep patterns and our level of tension without having to rely upon medications to do this for us.
- Take time off from work if at all possible. I know you are saying, "I just can't take a vacation at this time" but it may be important to take time off from work and actually get away from it all for a few days. Try to plan these in such a way that they are long enough and frequent enough to allow you to really relax and change your routine and pace. Dealing with a crisis is tough work. If you ever needed a vacation, you probably need one now.
- Avoid being your worst critic. Avoid being a perfectionist. Put your best effort into whatever you are doing, then relax and try not to worry about the results. Perfection implies unrealistic expectations and perfectionists are difficult to live with because of the excessive demands that they make on themselves and others. Striving for perfection also encourages procrastination. Most perfectionists have difficulty getting things done. If you don't do anything, you obviously don't make any mistakes. This is not the time to avoid situations. It is a time to confront situations and deal with them. You need to be your best ally, not your worst critic. Stop keeping score! You are only human. Do the best you can and get on with your life.
- Learn how to relax. This, for most people, is a tall order. Here are
some exercises for you to learn that can help you to gain control of your
body so that when you tell yourself to relax, you will be able to relax.