Stress happens, but it doesn’t have to ruin your day or your life.
As a parent, you know all too well that no two days are alike. Kids can be unpredictable and wily. They have good days and bad days — just like you. However, kids don’t always have the skills to handle emotional or difficult situations in the best ways. This can lead to them acting out or making questionable choices, which can cause you stress.
Your family is just one aspect of your life where stress happens. Your job can also add to your anxiety and worry, as can issues happening with your friends and throughout the world. There is a difference between stress and anxiety but both influence how you approach your day and how you react to situations.
Neither stress nor anxiety is particularly fun to deal with, and they can feel like they consume your life and have taken over your body and mind. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid stress, but you can find ways to cope that will keep you cool, calm and collected.
Remind Yourself the Situation Won’t Last Forever
When you are in the throes of stress and anxiety, it seems like nothing else exists. You are so focused on the issue at hand and how it has taken over your life that you forget there is anything else. Reminding yourself that this situation won’t last forever and can be overcome will help you reduce your stress and anxiety.
Knowing things will end — even if it’s not soon — will give you a chance to breathe, relax and maybe even look at the problem from a new angle.
Divert Your Thoughts
As mentioned above, when you are stressed or anxious, it’s difficult to think of anything else except for what is making you stressed and anxious. You replay the scenario through your mind and wonder if there was something you could have done differently, or you keep thinking about what you need to do and how you are going to accomplish that task. You may even blame yourself and feel like you did something wrong.
The only thing these thought processes accomplish is making you feel more stressed and anxious, yet they are often difficult to turn off. It’s like a broken record playing over and over in your head, leading to negative thinking and often making you feel worse. However, being able to divert your thoughts will help you break this cycle. Below are a few different methods you can try.
Focus on the positive. Remind yourself that you are strong and resourceful and you’ve successfully handled situations like this before. This time is no different, and you have the strength, courage and determination to handle anything life throws your way.
Take inventory of the things you are grateful for or have accomplished. Focusing on all the things that are good in your life will divert your focus from the negative. Even if it’s something as small as getting out of bed and taking a shower, that was still an accomplishment to celebrate. Try to list at least five things every time your thoughts threaten to focus on your stress.
Ground yourself in reality. When dealing with stress and anxiety, you are often stuck in your head with your thoughts. Take the time to focus on your surroundings and the things outside of you. Use the 54321 mindfulness trick to accomplish this. This will help stop your thoughts from spinning out of control.
Sometimes the best way to deal with stressful and anxious thoughts or situations is not to think at all. Take a moment to distract yourself with music, your favorite TV show, gardening or cleaning — anything instead of thinking and fretting about the situation. This won’t make the issue go away, but it will give you a break from the emotional turmoil and perhaps give you insight on a different way to solve the problem.
When it comes to deciding what music to listen to, pick something that will make you happy and relaxed. If that includes soothing sounds or a meditation CD, that’s fine. However, if you want to listen to your favorite band and sing every word to every song, that works too. If you want to listen to something with screeching guitars and lots of bass, that’s your prerogative — pick something that will help you feel less stressed and anxious.
Take Deep Breaths
Part of anxiety is feeling short of breath or breathing too fast. In either case, you feel like you have lost control of your body and that you are going to pass out or possibly die. This leads to more anxiety, creating an endless cycle of feeling terrible.
Slowing down your breathing and taking deep breaths that expand your stomach and chest will help alleviate your breathing issues and calm you down. Counting to four while inhaling and then counting to six while exhaling will also give you something to focus on and think about instead of your stress. Now may be a great time for you to consider aromatherapy. Practicing this breathing technique when you’re not stressed or anxious will make it easier to accomplish when you are.
There’s no denying that the benefits of exercise are far-reaching — including the ability to lower stress and anxiety. Taking some time each day to work out will make you healthier, happier and better equipped to deal with stressful situations.
Talk to Someone
No one ever said you had to go through your situation alone. Talking to your spouse, a family member or a friend about your stress and anxiety could help reduce the issues. They may even be able to give you some advice on how to deal with the situation, further reducing your stress.
If your anxiety and stress are bad enough and make it hard to live your life normally, you may need to consider talking to a professional. A psychologist or counselor who specializes in stress and anxiety may be able to help you get to the root of your issues and find ways to cope so that these troubles don’t take over your life.
Take Control of Your Stress
Stress is part of life. It’s not the exciting, fun part of life, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating, either. Sadly, there’s no way to avoid stress, but there are ways to deal with it that will keep you cool, calm and collected.