Trying to stay on top of everything that we have going on in our lives can bring that stress that we have up to a level that feels more than just challenging. We can start to lose our physical energy, our sharpness for thinking and very generally lose our edge. Many of the illnesses and diseases that are prevalent today are said to be furthered and worsened by stress. How do we deal with our stress?
There are many coping strategies that are used and usually we find one that fits our personality or one that we can be comfortable with and we use it to the max. These are short term ways of dealing with the real issues and while they can help short term, may actually make things worse long term.
Distraction – Or, I’ll deal with it later
Distractions are about taking breaks and doing something else for a little while. This can help you be more focused when you return, but the danger is the more you put it off with other activities, the more stressed you may become as your time to completion gets shorter.
Avoidance – Or, I might deal with it …sometime
Avoidance is like distractions on steroids. There can be so much avoidance that each act of avoidance takes up more and more time and this leads to a vicious circle of behavior. But there are all sorts of ways that we may be avoiding dealing with our feelings of stress, from illness and sleep to over-achievement or procrastination. We will discuss in more detail later.
Escape – Or, I don’t want to deal with it…ever.
Escaping is the most dangerous of the ways we may try to cope and many times this will come after dealing with it with distraction and avoidance. Some may try to escape with the use of drugs, dropping out, lying to others, even to the point of injuring themselves of attempting suicide. Escapism only compounds the problems and we still have not looked at solving the underlying issues of our stress.
No matter our age, in elementary or high school, in college or on the job, what we really need is some stress management techniques. I hope to share some with you in the coming weeks, as I study this subject both for myself and all of our students.