Health for Life - De-stressing
Healthy Ways of Coping with Stress
Journey of Hearts
A Healing Place in CyberSpaceTM
Reactions to Stress 

Who isn't impacted by stress these days? The demands of work, of home, or spouses, of parents and children all take a toll as do the pressures to "keep up with the Jones," making more to support a life-style we have be taught to adopt or aspire to achieve. 

So much of what I have seen in an out patient setting is stress or depression related. People feeling panic and anxiety attacks mimicking heart problems becauese of the stress they are having with their boss or co-workers, or spouse. Others who are depressed and experiencing intestinal disturbances or insomnia because they are in jobs or situations that they do not like. 

The answers aren't easy. Often times it takes being able to look at the situation, and deciding if there is anything I can do to change it, it is worth it and if not, can I deal with it, or do I have to get out. One of the best quotes (prayers) that I have found for dealing with stress is that of the Serinity Prayer.

God, grant us grace  
to accept with serenity  
the things than cannot be changed, courage to change 
the things which should be changed,  
and the wisdom  
to distinguish the one from the other. 
Reinhold Niebuhr
Healthy Ways of Coping with Stress  
    1. Find a quite place and go there, frequently if needed. 
    2. Write in a Journal.   
      Writing down feelings or emotions, gets them out, down on paper, and is a way of being able to look at things more objectively. You may get some good insights from seeing the problems on paper.
    3. Pound a pillow, your mattress with fists or a tennis racket.  
      (Please stay away from walls, I've had to cast many fractured hands from wall punching). 
     4. Scream in a pillow, in the shower, in your car (hopefully not during rush hour traffic), or in the woods. A variation of this is an American Indian ritual:  
      Go out into the woods or a place that is private.  
      Dig a hole in the ground near a tree or bush.  
      Pour all of your feelings into that hole, scream out your frustrations.  
      When you are finished, cover the hole.  
      Thank the tree (or bush) for listening and witnessing your release process.  
      Thank Mother Earth for receiving your stress and anxiety. 
      Leave feeling better about yourself and more connected to the universe. 
    5. Have a temper tantrum on your bed, mattress or couch (carefully).  

    6. Go for a long walk or run. Notice how your body is feeling, your breathing, how your legs are moving. Enjoy being out in nature.  

    7. Twist a towel (or pull between a friend or a large dog)

    8. Howl, wail, yell, scream. Laugh, cry, sing. Listen to music. 
    Whatever noise or expression seems to express how you feel.  

    9. Laugh uproariously at least once a day. Laughter is good for the soul.  

    10. Paint, draw, doodle, scribble, decoupage, create something.  

    11. Dance, skip, saunter, gallop, hop. Move in whatever way seems to work.  

    12. Stop suffering and start dealing.   Suffering is an avoidance mechanism, a way of not dealing with feelings and working through the emotions.  

    13. Do the necessary processing, in whatever form seems to work best with you.  

    14. Explore the articles on this website. 

    15. Look for resources on stress reduction, do not underestimate the helpfulness of books. One of the good books I found recently on this topic, Stopping: How to Be Still When you Have to Keep Going, by Dr. David Kundtz 

    16. Talk to someone--a friend, family member, counselor, or clergy member, even a pet or stuffed animal.

Some of the above suggestions were taken in part from Good Grief Rituals by Elaine Childs-Gowell, and modified to cover for stress reduction and combines other things that I have seen people utilize, and suggestions that I have made to my patients.
Last updated February 7, 1998
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