By Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent, Hopkins County, [email protected]
I had a particularly stressful week with work-related and extraneous issues. Many people are experiencing difficulties during these unusual times that may seem overwhelming. How do you deal with the unavoidable stress of life?
Dr. Robert Jeffress provides daily inspirationals and one particularly hit home for me. Titled “The Foundation for Choosing Relaxation Over Stress”, he stressed spending some time every day doing something you enjoy. If you want to get through a stressful day, make sure you have programmed into your day some time to do something to look forward to – a hobby, a sport, reading a book, watching a television program, baking, etc. Just knowing that you are going to get to spend a few minutes doing something you want to do can help relieve the stress of the day.
There needs to be that time every day in your schedule–it might be seven o’clock at night, or it might be later–that is a finish time. This is when you say, “Maybe I haven’t washed every dish, I haven’t cleaned every garment, and I haven’t made every phone call or written every email that needs to be written, but I’ve hit the finish line for today, and I am going to pick it up tomorrow. Now I’m going to do something I enjoy.”
Most importantly, how do you choose relaxation over stress? How we begin our day and how we end our day governs our stress level throughout the day. For me, automatically waking up in the wee morning hours (just for the record, I am NOT a morning person!) has proved to be my best time to pray – for family, friends, our nation. I don’t get out of bed – I simply pray. It’s a quiet time, with no distractions. When I wake up a few hours later, I’m ready to face the day. Yes, I still have stressors that come my way, but realizing that I have a choice in handling that stress makes all the difference.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension also offers suggestions.
- Take care of yourself — This approach will help you cope with the stressors. Eat healthful foods, get plenty of rest, take some time to relax each day and know your personal limits.
- Seek support — Reaching out to people allows you to talk with others about the experience. Seek out individuals you trust, and spend time with family and friends.
- Maintain routines — If possible, stick with your normal routine. This can help provide a sense of normalcy as well as help you maintain your usual social contacts at school, work or other places you usually go every day.
- Engage in physical activity — Physical activity can be an excellent stress reliever for many people – Walking, cleaning a closet, working in the yard or garden.
- Limit exposure to news coverage. It is normal to want to stay updated. However, you may be able to lessen your feelings of distress by limiting the amount of time you spend watching or listening to media coverage of an event.
- Seek trusted sources of information. Information may come from the Centers for Disease Control, local government officials or from your family doctor. For the most accurate information, search sites maintained by local, state or federal governmental agencies.
- Avoid using drugs and alcohol. Such substances only provide a temporary “numbing” of feelings from distress and can lead to additional problems.
- Be understanding of yourself and others. You may need to be more patient than usual with coworkers, family members or children.
And remember, “This, too, shall pass.”