We live is an increasingly fast-paced world or, more aptly, whirl! Chronic stress and tension have become problems for many of us and can lead to serious physical ailments. While, in some cases, professional help may be called for, there’s a lot we can do to help ourselves. Here are some self-help measures recommended by the National Association for Mental Health:
Take it out. When something worries you, don’t bottle it up. Confide in some level-headed person you can trust. Talking things out helps to relieve your strain, assists you in seeing your worry in a clearer light and in finding a way you can deal with it.
Escape for a while. Making yourself “stand there and suffer” is a form of self-punishment, not a way to solve a problem. It is perfectly realistic and healthy to escape from your difficulty long enough to recover breath and balance, as long as you are prepared to come back and deal with it when you are more composed.
Work off your anger. Expend pent-up energy in some physical activity around the house, or work it out in a sport or a long walk. Anger often blocks you from being able to deal with a problem. Working the anger out of your system, and cooling it off for a day or two, will leave you much better prepared.
Give in occasionally. Even if you’re right and you know it, it’s easier on your system to give in once in a while. If you yield, you’ll usually find that others will, too. And if you can work out a compromise, the result will be relief from tension and the achievement of a practical solution.
Do something for others. This should take the steam out of your own worries, at least for a while, which may be all you need.
Take one thing at a time. For people under tension, an ordinary work load can seem unbearable. The load looks so great that it seems impossible to tackle any part of it. Decide which are the things that most need to be done, do them, and the rest won’t seem quite such a total mess.
Shun the “Superman” urge. Some people expect too much from themselves and get into a constant state of worry and anxiety because they think they’re not achieving as much as they should be. Don’t try for perfection in everything; it’s an open invitation to failure. Decide which things you do well; these are apt to be the things you like to do anyway, and giving them your major effort will probably provide you with the most satisfaction. Then, deal with the things you have more trouble with, and do them well; but don’t take yourself to task if you can’t achieve the impossible.
Go easy with your criticism. You may be expecting too much of others; it’s your own fault, then, if you feel frustrated or let down when they don’t measure up to your preconceived pattern of achievement. Acknowledge that you may be trying to make others over to suit yourself. Learn to work with, and within the limits of, their good points.
Give the other fellow a break. Competition is contagious, but so is cooperation. When you give the other fellow a break, you often make things easier for yourself; if he no longer feels you are a threat to him, he stops being a threat to you. And if you constantly feel you must “get there first,” take a minute to examine the goals you’re after. Some of them may prove trivial, and you can well afford to relax.
Make yourself “available.” You may be feeling neglected or left out – and it may be all in your imagination. Often others are just waiting for you to make the first move. Don’t be the one who always has to be asked; make some of the overtures yourself.
Schedule your recreation. Some people drive themselves so hard that they allow too little time for recreation. You may need a program of definite hours for “time out.”
Reprinted from Family Health magazine.