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Coping Skills to Help Reduce Stress in Difficult Times.

I know many are probably looking for coping skills that they can turn to in difficult times.
– Learning how to share your attention between work and your kids. – Staying focused on your work even though you have a lot on your plate – Financial stress -Health concerns- Relationship stressors.

These are all things that alone can cause a lot of stress. When you’re dealing with a few of them at the same time,  it’s a recipe for feeling overwhelmed.

It’s important to recognize your own signs. How do you know you’re starting to feel really stressed? For some, they get irritable quickly. For others, they shut down and don’t want to be around people.

Once you recognize your signs of stress, it’s important to be proactive and reduce stress levels in order to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Chronic stress weakens the immune system, therefore being vulnerable to getting sick. These coping skills are not cures but instead help you reduce stress in order to think more clearly and help you focus on problem-solving and solutions, instead of staying stuck in feeling like you have no control.

Here are some common coping skills that have helped a lot of people:

Deep Breathing.

The first thing that usually changes with our emotions is our breath. Our breath is very powerful. When you’re feeling high stress, your body releases adrenaline, sugars, cortisol and other stress hormones that prepare your body to run, fight, or freeze because it thinks you’re in danger. But you’re most likely not in danger. All of that energy has nowhere to go. That’s when you begin to feel fidgety, shaking, your heart starts racing and other symptoms as a result of this stress response. To calm down this chemical reaction in your body, take 5-7 deep breaths, minimum, focusing on exhaling longer than your inhale. This floods your blood stream with oxygen and as you exhale, you release those stress hormones and reduce your heart rate.

Move your body.

For the same reason above, your body is flooded with stress hormones. You can release some of that stress and tension by moving your body. You can:

Dance

Go for a walk

Stretch

Exercise

Play

Focus on what you want.

What we focus on grows. If you keep thinking about your problems you’re only going to be focused on the problem. Instead, focus on solutions by focusing on what you do want. Then break it down into small steps. What’s one little step you can take to work towards a solution?

What we focus on grows, like a snow ball effect. Ask yourself, what am I focusing on?

Focus on the good.

In a journal or just in your mind, make it a habit to everyday focus on what you’re grateful for.  Even during hard times, do you have supportive people, do you have a place to sleep, did you eat a meal, are your loved ones safe, etc.

If you only get your information from the media you would believe that the whole world is falling apart. As old ways of thinking and doing things are no longer working, the world is going through a transformation. There is always light and darkness, good and bad. Make sure what you’re observing is more balanced and not just one sided.

Change your environment.

Sometimes being stuck inside or stuck in a routine can put you in a funk. If you can get away for a change in scenarie, great. But if not, think small.

If you’re working from home, can you sit outside? Can you work from Barnes and Nobles or a local coffee shop?

Trying going to work and home a different way.

Plan something to do this week by looking up free or low cost local events.

Have friends over and cook/bake something for them.

The point is to change up your routine and do something different.

In life the only two things we truly have control over is HOW WE RESPOND to people and circumstances and the WAY WE LOOK AT THINGS. No matter what life is throwing at you, you have control of yourself. Recognize when you’re starting to get highly stressed, physically calm down in order to think clearly, and focus on the things you have control over.

About the Author.
Liza J Alvarado is a Bi-lingual professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents and Adults in Pennsylvania.

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