Category: Stress

6 TIPS FOR CONTROLLING IMPULSIVE REACTIONS

Have you ever found yourself reacting to someone else’s negative behavior impulsively? Maybe a friend or family member makes a comment that triggers you and you react with a passive aggressive comment? Or a boss or co-worker sends an email that rubs you the wrong way so you answer with negative attitude?

We have all been there from time to time. But reacting without thinking can get you into trouble, or even cause embarrassment. Here are some tips on how to better control impulsive reactions.

Take a deep breath.

When we feel threatened, physically, psychologically or emotionally, we go into fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight is our survival instinct to protect ourselves by fighting (physically or verbally) or running away.  Take a deep breath to lower the emotional and chemical reaction of fight-or-flight, allowing you to think more clearly.

Pause.

Wait a few seconds before replying, longer if you’re able to. A few seconds or minutes up front saves you hours or days of a headache. Unless it’s life threatening, you don’t have to answer the person right away.

Are you reacting emotionally?

Ask yourself (during the pause) if your reaction is out of anger, irritability, hurt, or any type of negative emotion. Or is it a rational reaction.

When we react emotionally, we often say or do things that we don’t really mean. Look at the issue for what it is and try reacting accordingly.

Walk away.

Walking away is not a sign of weakness. It gives you physical space between you and the person you’re reacting to and makes it easier to pause. Plus, it helps you not hurt the other person.

If you’re reacting to a complete stranger, like another driver or a random customer at a store, it might be easier since you don’t know them. They’re complete strangers to you so who cares what they think or say. You most likely will never see them again. Ask yourself, “is this going to matter in a year from now?”

If you’re reacting to someone you interact with frequently, you might be tempted even more to react impulsively. If it’s something they frequently do that irritates you, it’s important to set boundaries with them or tell them, appropriately, how their behavior makes you feel.

Ask for clarification.

Could you be misinterpreting what someone is saying? This happens often when communicating through email or text. Don’t assume that the person is being rude. Instead stop and ask for clarification.

Do you have trouble controlling your impulses often?

I’m sorry to tell you this but not everything is everyone else’s fault. Are you over reacting?

Sometimes when you have unresolved issues or hold your feelings in, you blow up more quickly. It could be the smallest thing that a person does, such as body language, tone of voice or even specific words that could be triggering something deeper in you. Maybe the way your teacher or boss talks to you triggers the way a highly critical parent would talk to you growing up.

Recognizing if it’s “your stuff” helps you separate the person you’re dealing with and your own feelings.

 

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About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

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6 Stretches to Relieve Stress and Tension

If you’re not motivated enough to exercise I have good news. You can do several moves right from your chair, bed, and even your car when you’re at a red light.

It won’t have the same effects as exercise does, but stretching does help with relieving stress. Stretching gets the blood flowing, so it improves circulation and relieves muscle tension. Combine stretching with deep breathing and you’ll notice that it could also help to release mental, emotional, and psychological stress. Here are some simple but effective moves to try.

 

Grab one hand with the other, take a deep breath in, and lift your arms as high as you could. When you feel the stretch down your arms, hold it there for at least 10 seconds. Try to reach as high as you could. Breath out slowly. You can do this while sitting or standing  up. Like this lady…

stretching up

Take a deep breath in. Stretch out your arms as if your making a “T” or trying to tell someone how long something is. Stretch it as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your chest. Breath out slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.

stretch T

Sit up straight. Keeping your body straight, take a deep breath in,  try looking down until your chin touches you chest. Breath out slowly. You should feel your neck and shoulders stretching. Now do the opposite and look all the way up by only moving your neck. Now move your head so the your right ear almost touches your right shoulder. Do the same on your left ear and left shoulder.

worry

While sitting on your bed or couch, sit up straight, take a deep breath in and reach to touch your toes. Breath out. You’ll feel the back of your legs and your back stretching.

reaching for toes

While sitting down. Place your left leg over right right leg where the left ankle is touching the right knee. Usually how a lot of men sit. With your hands hold your left knee and ankle. Keeping your back straight, take a deep breath in, and try leaning forward as far as you can. You will feel your hip stretching. Now repeat on the other side.

hip stretch

Stand up straight with legs shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath in. Pretend you’re going to sit down. Hold your body in a squat position. Breath out slowly. Hold it for as long as you can.

squat

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

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Managing Stress For The Holidays.

Running around, spending money, traveling, cooking meals you don’t normally make, seeing family members…all of these things can make this time of year very stressful. But it’s not supposed to be. The end of the year is a time of reflection, planning future goals, and spending time with loved ones. Remind yourself that this is a positive time by following some of the following tips.

  • Remember to take time for you by setting aside some quiet time. It can be as little as 2-3 minutes. Drive home alone the long way, or letting the hot water run a little longer when taking a shower.
  • Plan ahead. Things don’t always go as planned but it’s still a good idea to plan out your day and tasks.
  • Focus on the things you have control over. Let go of the thing you can’t.
  • Keep a “To Do” list on your phone. Have a list for things you have to do as well as one for things you have to buy.
  • Ask for help. If you have trouble asking for help, that is something to work on. You’re only one person and should delegate tasks to others. Kids like to be given “jobs” so put them to work.
  • If you’re stressed about money or just don’t have it, remember the saying “it’s the thought that counts”. Believe it or not thoughtful gifts are priceless since it shows you put effort into it. If you’re in a relationship, get a Card from the dollar store or just make one with a personalized message of how much they mean to you. You can even get flirty with top 10 reasons I love you. Or creating an album/scrap book of pictures. Doing thoughtful things will also help you feel the love and lower stress.
  • Think of 5 things that you truly feel grateful for.
  • Volunteer or help out a family in need.
  • TAKE A DEEP BREATH
  • Keep things simple. Don’t put more stress on yourself than you have to. There’s no need to cook a buffet of food all by yourself, or feel that you have to buy a gift for all your guests (even ones you don’t normally see).
  • Remember that you are supposed to be enjoying time off, being with people you love. Stop and reflect on everything you’ve been through this year, and survived. Remind yourself of the things that are important in life. When you do, it’s easier to let go of the small things that in the bigger picture, don’t really matter.

About the author

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Bethlehem, PA area.

 

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Simple Ways To Exercise Without Going To The Gym.

We all hear about how good exercise is. It not only takes care of you physically but socially and emotionally. But how can we find the time to exercise when we’re so busy? The good news is you do not have to join a gym to get a good work out. You just have to get your body moving and raise your heart rate.
Here are some fun and simple ways to fit in exercise into your daily routine in order to improve your mood. Of course make sure you’re healthy enough to do some of these.

  1. While watching TV, hold a plank for 30 seconds.
  2. Since you’re already on the floor, do 10 push-ups.
  3. Try to always take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  4. Go on YouTube and look for a workout routine that’s less than 10 minutes, then follow along.
  5. Stretch your body as soon as you wake up and before going to bed.
  6. Follow a Yoga Video.
  7. Go for a 20 minute walk in your neighborhood.
  8. If it’s too cold or your neighborhood is not good for walking, walk around the mall. (Don’t shop, just walk around the mall as if you were running late)
  9. Park far away on purpose.
  10. Play. Tennis, racket ball, basketball, baseball, swimming, wii fit, xbox Kinect games, etc.
  11. Download a pedometer app on your phone to keep track of how many steps you take a day. Try to go for 3500 steps a day. Fitbit does this already.
  12. Dance!
  13. Play in the snow. Have a snow ball fight.
  14. Lift Dumbbells. No Dumbbells? Lift cans of beans or half gallon of milk.
  15. Rough house with kids and/or partner.

Try to do at least 2 of these suggestions every day. Have fun with it and you’re more likely to do them.

About the Author.
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA.

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25 Coping Skills

Here’s a list of coping skills to try when you’re feeling really stressed out, worried or depressed. Try to do at least 2 things on this list every single day.

  1. Talk to one person about your feelings. Supportive friend, family or therapist.
  2. Have a “lazy” day or hour where you do NOTHING.
  3. Go for a walk in nature or a quiet environment.
  4. Help someone out by volunteering somewhere or help someone who you know needs help.
  5. Do a random act of kindness, on purpose.
  6.  Write out what you’re thinking as if you’re talking to someone. Then destroy it.
  7. If you don’t like writing, record yourself instead. Like a video diary.
  8. Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for and write at least 3 sentences of why you’re grateful for that thing. Think bigger than your life, like being grateful for having the sight to read these words, or that your family does not do arranged marriages.
  9. Color/paint/draw/doodle.
  10. Listen to music.
  11. Create play lists for different moods.
  12. Take a bubble bath.
  13. Take a hot shower. Before turning off the water, turn the water as cold as you can stand.
  14. Clean/organize your environment; room, house, desk, etc.
  15. Play/cuddle with a pet.
  16. Search “guided mediation” on YouTube and listen to one.
  17. Watch a funny movie or video.
  18. Create a vision board with pictures of things that you would like to do and have.
  19. Play games. Video games, board games, or games on your phone.
  20. Take a nap or just make sure you get enough rest.
  21. Read something that makes you feel good.
  22. Pamper yourself, like doing your hair or painting your nails.
  23. Watch your favorite movie or TV show.
  24. Write down or think about 5 good things you have going for yourself. For example, if you hate your job, at least you have a job. If you don’t have one, think about your strengths that will get you one, such as being responsible or being a hard worker.
  25. Create and stick to a daily schedule. Scheduling out your day will give you a routine and a sense of accomplishment.

 

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in  Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

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