coping

Manage Your Stress Better!

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Who isn't stressed? Right?! Especially around the Holidays!

Does your day look something like this? Drop off the kids, go to work, pick up the kids, go Christmas shopping, mail cards to family, cook dinner, get family pictures taken.....Aahhhhh!!!

So how do you stop the madness? Ideally, we'd all cope with stress successfully by using the techniques we know will ground us and make us calm. But for some reason, I can never remember what those are in the moment. Anyone else have this problem?

Our body's response to extreme stress or a threatening situation is fight, flight, or freeze. Fighting with your boss, kids, or partner is probably not the best way to get what you need. Freezing will help you think momentarily about what your next move should be.

But I want to talk to you about flight- When we're in a stressful situation either we've got to change, or the environment has to change. When a situation is too stressful, it's difficult to change our behaviors or habits. So when you're first working on coping skills to better manage stress, change your environment!

- Walk away from the immediate stressor

- Take space in another room or office and turn off the lights.

- Take a walk outside for 10 minutes to slow down your thoughts.

The more practice you have in stressful situations, the more you will understand the control you have in them. Once you've regained some of that control, implementing stress management techniques will feel more like a positive choice your making, rather than further adding to your stress. Some techniques to try when your stress in on overload:

- Think of this: "Is my head in the same place as my feet are?" Be present!

- Fold in half with knees bent and do the waterfall.

- 3-Second Breaths: deep breath in (inhale over 3 seconds) and exhale (for 3 seconds). Repeat 10 times.

These grounding techniques will help you slow down, collect your thoughts, and strategize for success in whatever your stressful situation is.

What has worked for you in the past? Share your skills below!

Acceptance and Change

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In psychotherapy, we often speak of self-love and acceptance as modalities to move on from our past and parts of ourselves we are unhappy with. For instance, a therapist may suggest that someone who is now clean and sober accept this aspect of who they are and the choices they made when they were drinking. However, people who are motivate to change likely aren't satisfied with themselves in some regard, and are looking to make a positive change. So, working towards self acceptance while trying to initiate change is very difficult.

So how do we do it?!

Originally developed by Marsha Linehan out of the University of Washington, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has proven to be an effective modality in achieving self-acceptance and simultaneously creating positive change. In a nutshell, DBT incorporates Buddhist mindfulness techniques in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy to promote acceptance and generate change.

DBT was initially developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder. However, research also supports positive outcomes for using DBT with people diagnosed with mood disorders (anxiety/depression/bipolar), trauma survivors, substance use disorders, and those engaging in self-injurious behaviors.

DBT uses 4 modules to facilitate this process:

1. Mindfulness: observing yourself and your environment non-judgmentally (acceptance).

2. Distress Tolerance: recognizing and accepting negative situations instead of avoiding or becoming overwhelmed by them (acceptance).

3. Emotional Regulation: Identify obstacles to changing emotions, and use mindfulness to learn about emotions (change).

4. Interpersonal Effectiveness: learning assertiveness and interpersonal problem solving that preserves relationships (change).

 

So what techniques can you take away from this and practice today?

-Ground yourself; use deep breathing and meditation to stay present.

-Self soothe when stress; using music or other activities you enjoy.

-Improve communication; use "I Feel" statements to better share your emotions.

What works for you? What's your go-to coping skill? How do you share your feelings with others? Comment below!