It’s a given that stress happens, but it’s not a given that we instantly plug in positive counter-measures to cope with it. Years ago I realized that my reactions to stress, brought on by loss, financial woes, time management, confrontations, traffic, relationships, employment–which resulted in: rage, grief, lethargy, depression, insomnia, apathy, worry, and more anger—were the same reactions I’d been having for my whole life. It’s time for something different, something that works.
As a teacher, I kept telling my pupils that REAL achievement and progress couldn’t be accurately measured through exams. The best thing that education could do for them—and for me—was to change behavior, become mature, responsible, self-aware. Get control over knee-jerk reactions.
Have I acquired any coping mechanisms? Yes. Knowing that there is nothing I can do to prevent bad things from happening, here’s some stuff that sometimes works when adversity strikes in its many nefarious forms:
- Call a friend—be selective.
- Go for a walk and check out the neighbor’s gardens; look at the clouds.
- Pick a destination and go for a drive—or BART over to San Francisco.
- Go on facebook for some mindless, superficial distraction.
- Flip through gardening magazines or books.
- Read old letters.
- Select a recipe and cook something new.
- Write the woes down in a journal—let it all out.
- Watch a movie—be selective.
It’s pretty amazing that even though I know stress happens, it catches me totally unawares when it raises its many-sided warty head. So, now I’ve got some confidence that stressful situations are temporary and can be dealt with—head on, bravely, calmly. And breathe a sigh of relief when they’re over, and take some time to re-group.
[Img.Src: Teacher with pupils, 1943]