Dr. Paul Standal helps his clients identify sources of stress while educating and coaching them in strategies for coping with stress.
STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH CHRONIC STRESS
Below are some suggestions for coping with chronic stress in your life:
1. Stay in the moment, in present time. Stay away from regretting the past or worrying about the future. Practice mindfulness. Meditate for ten to twenty minutes per day.
2. Be realistic and base your decisions on facts and not catastrophic thinking. Base worry on reality, rather than on a terrifying fantasy your imagination has concocted. Analyze the problem and take corrective action.
3. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities, learn to say NO! Practice the old Kenny Rogers hit in The Gambler: “Know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.” Learn when to hold on and when to let go. Give in occasionally and be flexible.
4. Shed the urge to be perfectionistic, a “Superman” or “Superwoman.” No one is perfect, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others.
5. Use visualization and rehearse to manage stressful situations more successfully.
6. Keep a pad by your bed so you can write things down that you think of in the middle of the night. It is easier for you to go back to sleep if you know you have written down your concern.
7. Avoid becoming overwhelmed with a project by obsessing over one thing. Break down and prioritize your tasks and tackle each one separately.
8. Find a hobby and interact with friends. These will give you the resources to deal with stress.
9. Live a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, adequate rest, regular exercise, limiting caffeine and alcohol and by balancing work and play.
10. Don’t try to cope alone. Reality-test your worry. Ask someone who should know if your worrying makes sense, or if you have exaggerated the problem.
11. Allow yourself to feel and express your feelings. Crying or anger is OK.
12. Go easy with criticizing yourself or others. You may be expecting too much.
13. Don’t watch too much TV or other print or online media, newspapers, etc. The mass media lacerate us with upsetting stories. If you do not consciously limit the amount of media news you consume, you will overdose on worry. Remember that 99.99 percent of the time the world around us is ordered and safe. NEWS only happens on those rare times that disorder occurs. Do not fall into fear and pessimism.
14. Avoid catastrophic thinking, generalizations or projections and practice talking to yourself in a reassuring way. Don’t settle into worry, regret or catastrophic worry. When you feel it wrapping itself around you, disengage by delaying, distancing or distracting. Get up and walk around, take a shower, write a letter, talk to a friend. The longer you let worry last, the harder it is to escape. Re-examine the evidence and use positive affirmations.
15. Practice progressive relaxation and relaxed breathing.
16. Add structure to your life where you need it and whenever you can. Many everyday worries are related to disorganization. What have I forgotten? Will I get there on time? Lists, reminders, a daily schedule are concrete bits of structure that can reduce the amount of time spent in destructive worry.
17. Every attempt we make to resolve the “problem” by changing something outside of ourselves will be unavailing. It might temporarily ease the situation, but the “problem” will not be released permanently until there is a change of consciousness.
18. Finally, SEEK HELP as needed and remember that nothing lasts forever, not even stress.
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