Stress is ubiquitous. Without it, in fact, you would probably accomplish very little. However, when it starts to cross from something that prods you to do better to something that threatens to paralyze you or affect your health, it\’s gone from beneficial to harmful, and you need to find ways to deal with it. That\’s easier said than done, especially when the source of the stress is something that\’s out of your control, so what are some strategies for managing it to prevent becoming overwhelmed?
Take a Time Out
It may not be possible to give in to the old fight or flight response, but in most cases, when you need to reduce stress and relax, it\’s possible to take some kind of time out, whether that\’s simply stopping to breathe deeply for ten seconds and think or if it means going for a walk or a run on your own for half an hour to clear your head. The key to the time out is to realize that in most cases, barring being a surgeon or having another profession or situation where split-second decision-making is everything, nothing will go terribly wrong if you take, at minimum, a few seconds to gather yourself. If you have a little more time, meditation, prayer, listening to music, or writing in a journal are also all good ways to step away for a moment and get yourself better prepared for what comes next. It can also help if you strategize ahead of time and identify where you can take some time outs if you need them.
Pay It Forward
Helping others, which often means paying it forward on behalf of others who have done things for you, is often a good strategy for dissipating stress over the longer run because it can remind you that you\’re doing some good in the world. There are many ways to approach this, including mentoring. There are also situations in which you might want to consider cosigning on a student loan. There are student loans with a cosigner available that can often have lower interest rates and may also be more likely to get approved in the first place. For students who do not have another responsible adult to cosign for them, this can make the difference in whether or not they can attend college. You should make sure that the student you are cosigning for understands their responsibility and also that you are willing and able to repay the loan if they cannot or will not.
Talking to a friend, family member, counselor, clergy person, or someone else can often help relieve your stress. Connecting with someone, even if you don\’t say much, is sometimes the most profound part of reaching out like this. However, if you are a true introvert or just a very private person who prefers to keep this kind of thing to yourself, even talking to yourself about it can help. When you notice yourself thinking or speaking about what you\’re going through in a negative way, make an effort to revise it. If you\’ve told yourself something like \”This is hopeless, and I\’ll never fix it,\” try revising that to say something like \”This seems hard now, but I\’m resourceful, and I\’ll figure something out.\”
One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is to get away entirely for a few days. In addition, some degree of disconnecting from your phone and other digital devices, as much as you are able to without jeopardizing your job and the safety of loved ones, can be helpful. Getting away might mean solitude or it might mean going somewhere with family or friends, but make sure it allows you to entirely switch gears and power down as opposed to walking into a new set of stressful conflicts.
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