Life Is Not An Emergency


Sometimes we”™re looking too far ahead and we begin to worry about how we are going to get there while other days we”™re creating too much stress by saying yes, too often. We find our plates completely full. Whatever the reason, we”™ve got to slow down and breathe.

Kristine Carlson

Too many commitments and not enough time. It does come about by saying yes too often. Looking out to the future can create dissonance by making the current journey out of step with that vision of the future.

I really struggle with patience which is another way of saying that I find it very challenging to slow down. My personality is such that I expect to get everything that needs to be done in a day, well, done. If life throws a curveball, then I react poorly. I get angry, frustrated and guilty. All at the same time.

I have been experiencing an extended period of stress over the past few months. In looking at the literature, there are a number of things that can help manage and reduce stress. I need to incorporate a few of them into my daily life. This list comes from the Canadian Mental Health Association:

There is no one right way to deal with stress. The tips below are common strategies that are helpful for many people. Try them out and see what works best for you. Remember to look at both short-term and long-term solutions when you”™re dealing with stress.

Identify the problem. Is your job, school, a relationship with someone, or worries about money causing stress? Are unimportant, surface problems hiding deeper problems? Once you know what the real problem is, you can do something about it.

Solve problems as they come up. What can you do, and what are the possible outcomes? Would that be better or worse than doing nothing? Remember, sometimes solving a problem means doing the best you can””even if it isn”™t perfect””or asking for help. Once you”™ve decided on a solution, divide the steps into manageable pieces and work on one piece at a time. Improving your problem-solving skills is a long-term strategy that can help you feel like you”™re in control again.

Talk about your problems. You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. Loved ones may not realize that you”™re having a hard time. Once they understand, they may be able to help in two different ways. First, they can just listen””simply expressing your feelings can help a lot. Second, they may have ideas to help you solve or deal with your problems. If you need to talk with someone outside your own circle of loved ones, your family doctor may be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you may have access to one through your school, workplace, or faith community.

Simplify your life. Stress can come up when there are too many things going on. Learning to say no is a real skill that takes practice. Try to look for ways to make your to-do list more manageable.

Learn helpful thinking strategies. The way you think about situations affects the way you respond to them. Unhelpful thoughts, such as believing that everything must be perfect or expecting the worst possible outcome, can make problems seem bigger than they really are.

Learn about stress management. There are many useful books, websites, and courses to help you cope with stress. There are also counsellors who specialize in stress. There may be stress management courses and workshops available through your community centre, workplace, or school.

Start on the inside. Practices like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or breathing exercises can help you quiet your mind and look at problems from a calmer, more balanced point of view. With time, these practices can help you manage your response to stressful situations as they come up.

Get active. Physical activity can be a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. Activity could be anything from taking up a new sport to walking. The most important part is that it gets you moving and you enjoy it””it shouldn”™t feel like a chore. If you experience barriers to physical activity, try talking to your doctor or care team for ideas.

Do something you enjoy. Making time for hobbies, sports, or activities that you find fun or make you laugh can temporarily give you a break from problems. Listen to music, read, go for a walk, see a friend, watch your favourite movie, or do whatever makes you feel good. This can give you a little mental distance from problems when you can”™t deal with them right away.

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