Dealing with Stress in Times of Uncertainty
Lately a lot of events have taken place across the world that could leave anyone, even the most laid back person, a little on edge. Earthquakes, tornadoes, the war on terrorism; and if that isn’t enough, hurricane season is right around the corner. Having anxiety in times of uncertainty is understandable, but worrying about things you have no control over isn’t doing any service to you either. Below are some techniques that can help you deal with stress in times of uncertainty. These will keep you physically and mentally healthy.
Deep Breathing Technique – You can do this anywhere (traffic, a tense meeting) and you don’t need any equipment. Take a deep breath through your nose to the count of six. Make sure that your belly distends so the air goes all the way into the base of your lungs. Hold the air in for a count of six. This allows the oxygen to go through your body. Release the air through your nose for a count of six. Repeat 4 to 6 times, at least 3 times per day.
Pay close attention to what is bothering you, and then ask yourself – “Is this my business, someone else’s business or God’s business?” If it is something you truly have control over (taxes), decide what you can do to alleviate the stress and do it. If it is someone else’s business (a relative’s drug problem), let them handle it. You might ask if there is anything you can do to help. However, if it’s not yours to handle, don’t try to. Lastly, if it’s God’s business (hurricane, terrorism), realize that there is nothing you can do to control it and that worrying about it won’t improve the situation.
Preparation – You can’t control events like terrorism or natural disasters that are out of your hands, but you can prepare for them. Have a home kit of supplies in case of a disaster or emergency – water, batteries, radio, food, etc. Pick a place for your family to meet in case phones are out of service.
Know your sources of stress – One of the first things that you need to do when you begin thinking about stress management or stress reduction is to appreciate what creates stress in your life. One way to do this is to get out a piece of paper and write headings that correlate with various aspects of your life: your home life, your job, your family, your relationships, your hobbies, etc. Under each heading, write down the things that create stress for you whether it’s your boss, your commute, not feeling satisfied at work, a family issue or any number of other things. In order to start creating solutions, you have to truly understand what the problems are. As your problems and stressors become clearer, it will be easier to set goals and establish boundaries that will reduce your level of stress.
Gratitude Journal – It is impossible to feel stress and gratitude at the same time. When you stop focusing on what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do have, you will immediately feel more peaceful. That is the beginning of your attitude of gratitude. As you continue to write in your gratitude journal, the attitude of gratitude will become natural to you and you will experience less stress in your life and more freedom. There is no specific way that you have to write in your journal. You can write long descriptive paragraphs about your activities of the day and what you appreciated about them. You could make a journal that just lists the things your grateful for a year, choose a preset number or leave it open to write as much or as little as you want that day. Your main goal is to be in a state of mind that reflects gratitude as you write in your journal. The best way to be successful in keeping a journal is to create a schedule and stick to it. The more often you write in your journal, the more likely you are to continue doing so.