Dr. Rachel Goldman, PhD

Stress happens, or as I often say Life Happens. Life happens and unfortunately, we live in a society of high stress. Now, let’s not forget the last two years. We have a pandemic on top of our regular day to day stressors. So, you may be wondering: what can I do to help manage my stress?   

1. Accept that there will be things out of your control. It’s important to remember that even though there are things out of our control, there are also things IN your control. We can’t always control others or what is going on in the world, but we CAN control our thoughts and our reactions. Our thoughts, emotions and behaviors are all linked. So, by changing the way we think and act, it can affect the way we feel. 

2. Take a time out. When we become sad or emotional, we can easily act out of that emotion in an impulsive manner. Perhaps we will say or do something that we will later regret. So, first when we feel stressed or emotional, the key is to take a mini time-out, or pause to breathe. 

3. Evaluate your current coping tools.  We all have go-to coping mechanisms, which are strategies we use to manage problems and emotions in our lives. I encourage you to take a moment and think about the ones that you use. Are they helpful? Do they make you feel calmer and more relaxed?

4. Expand your toolbox.  The reason for having more than one tool in your toolbox is because different situations may require different tools. You need options. As you read this, stop and think for a moment about some ideas – movement, hydration, breathwork, or talking about it are a few examples. It’s important to fill your own personal coping toolbox with things you actually see yourself doing. 

Stress and relaxation are two completely different, and opposite, physical states that our bodies cannot be in at the same time.  Taking a few deep breaths will help our body return to homeostasis and feel more relaxed. Then, once we have a clear mind, we can think about the tools that we have in our toolbox, or our list of coping mechanisms, and choose accordingly. ​​

So, the next time you are feeling down or stressed, remember what is IN your control and what is not in your control.