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Stress: Coping in Difficult Times

Think freely and with an open mind. We all feel stress and anxious at different times in our lives.

We all feel stress and anxious at different times in our lives. We all feel stress and anxious at different times in our lives. We all feel stress and anxious at different times in our lives.

While some have learned various methods of coping, others seem to encounter varying degrees of difficulty in managing their stress level at some time or another.

Stress may come as a result of mental or emotional pressures. You may feel overwhelmed with life at times.

The disconnect begins with a real or perceived demand placed on your brain or physical body. We may also feel stressed when multiple competing demands are placed on us.

We are faced with an unpleasant stimuli and we feel incapable of holding the reigns. We try valiantly to hang on but may become unable to and just let go, retreating into ourselves.

The Two Types of Stress:

  • Acute stress
  • Chronic stress

Acute Stress:

Acute stress has its origins in the fight-or-flight response. It is the body’s signal of imminent danger that alerts us to the presence of a threat and prepares us to fight or to take flight.

Chronic Stress:

When the stressor remains for longer periods of time, it may lead to issues with your health. This ongoing stress can may produce symptoms, such as, SOB, headaches and insomnia. The chronic-stress responses are sneaky and subtle than is the acute-stress response, but the effects may be longer lasting and way more problematic.

Stress can be triggered by sudden emotional change, e.g. loss. A change in your living situation, your health and your world, e.g., the Coronavirus.

Manage Stress By:

  • Getting enough rest
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Use guided imagery
  • Recognizing factors that trigger stress
  • Keeping a diary, things seem much less threatening when you see it written down
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Laughter
  • Music
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Physical activity, eg. yoga, exercise
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Limiting caffeine & alcohol
  • Avoid illicit drugs, these may make stress and anxiety worse
  • Get a change of scenery e.g., take a walk
  • Medication therapy
  • Develop hobbies

Deep breathing − Breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for about 3 seconds. Exhale slowly out your mouth. Close your eyes, if you can, and concentrate on controlling and slowing down your breathing.

Guided imagery − Close your eyes and picture a safe, peaceful scene. Choose some place you love and where you feel safe. Concentrate on the details of the scene and remember how you feel when you are there.

Progressive relaxation − Sit or lie quietly. Start by making a group of muscles tense or tight and then relax them. Tense your muscles for at least 5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat. Then, move to another group.

Laughter − Laughing helps lower stress. Try watching a comedy on television. Tell funny stories. Share jokes, books or laugh with a friend.

Music − If you love music like I do, this is a surefire way to allay feelings of stress and anxiety and help you to relax. If you play an instrument, now is a good time to give it a go.

Massage − We all know the joys and benefits of a good massage, get a back rub from someone you feel safe with just bask in the presence of their companionship.

Meditation − Do a familiar activity that calms you and helps you clear your mind. If a walk or a run helps you to feel calm, do so in a safe space.

Take a 10-second break − You may feel very stressed but not able to leave where you are. If so, close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 seconds, e.g., on an airplane.

Yoga or other forms of martial arts− These slow and purposeful body movements coupled with deep breathing, serves to take your focus off the stressor and can help you feel better.

Limit caffeine, alcohol and illicit street drugs – these substances can all cause some stress and anxiety, so avoid them when and if possible.

Finally medication therapy – talk to your healthcare provider about what medication options are available and may be effective for your situation, while still allowing you to remain a productive member of society and try to be an active participant in your care.

Please comment and share any other tips you may have for dealing with stress, especially during this stressful time.


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