Did you know that about 70% of Americans feel physical and mental symptoms of stress? Of those, only around 37% believe they are actually managing it well (American Psychiatric Association, ‘Stress in America’). When stress begins to show physical and mental signs of wear and tear, perhaps it is time to more closely examine your coping skills.
Coping or “dealing with it” is a task that some people will quickly jump to as the right way to ‘handle’ stress, anxiety and depression. While there are remarkable coping skills we can all benefit from, what matters is getting to the root of the issue that is causing the stress in the first place and then working on fixing that issue/s. But that’s for the professionals. Let’s look first at some immediate-response-techniques to moments of crisis, anxiety and depression.
- The Mental Picture: often it is our own minds that are destroying us from the inside. We allow our minds to drift to scenarios and situations that do not alleviate our stress but actually add to it. We have to take time to purposely manage our thoughts and actively replace the poor ones with positive ones. When you are in the deep throws of depression and anxiety it can be really hard to come up with positive thoughts but you owe it to yourself to work hard at this step.
- Move It: Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim – do SOMETHING physical. Your body deserves to be treated well and even though you may feel like it’s in complete rebellion against you, the fact is, its screaming out to you to take better care of it.
- Mind Your Manners: Nothing can add to your stress quicker than flying off the handle at those around you. If you need to, take a few moments before talking or responding, take a deep breath, and speak in the manner that you would want to be addressed. Talking in a calm, rational manner is also good for your heart and anxiety, minimizing spikes in blood pressure and heart palpitations which often accompany stress and anxiety.
- Eat Something: My grandmother used to be known as the ‘food pusher’. Had a bad day? Eat something. Feeling blue? Eat something. She was always there with something but the difference (and I only see this looking back), she didn’t throw the standard stress-eating foods at us. She would make us a salad, a fruit bowl, or a healthy sandwich or cup of soup. Feeding our bodies is a great way to bring about a bit of satisfaction and it gives our brains a moment to focus on something else.
- Meditate: This one is hard because if you ARE in a moment of crisis you are far from being able to calm down, breath and “go to your happy place”. And let’s face it – if we experience depression along with this that usually means our happy place was destroyed a long time ago! Take a few moments and breathe deeply, center on one object on the wall, sit up tall and allow your lungs to fill completely with air. It only takes 3 deep breaths to completing refresh the air supply in our lungs.
- Seriously, Though: Take yourself seriously and if you don’t have people around you who are taking you seriously, go find people who will. Talk with someone or just have people around you so you are not always alone. What you are feeling is REAL and IMPORTANT. YOU are a person of great worth and you need to take issues seriously. Tell people how you are doing and accept their support no matter what kind of support it is – suggestions, stories, hugs, “sorry’s” and even “holding you in prayer”. Because it all matters and so do you.
Then there is balance. Allow yourself to grieve for your loss – allow yourself to curl up in a ball and sleep all day but don’t let these become your norm. Fight it with all you have. You weren’t created to withdraw into obscurity. You weren’t designed to shut out the world. You were designed for far more and to be far better than all your haunts, all your ghosts and all your demons combined. YOU ARE A PERSON OF WORTH and you deserve to treat YOURSELF as one.
Finally, make sure you seek help. There are counselors all around us. If you are having feelings of hurting yourself please call 800-273-8255 and talk with someone today.
In Crisis? Consider calling 1-800-273 TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center.
Dial 911 for immediate assistance or emergencies.