Coping with Stress
Q: I recently got a promotion and my day consists of putting out fires all day long – super stressful. Any suggestions?
A: Yes. One simple daily practice that you can do right at your desk to minimize your stress, involves inhaling and exhaling. Most people breathe from the chest, aka shallow breathing, the kind of breathing your body associates with fight-and-flight. Breathing from the diaphragm (aka belly breathing) is better as this relays a message of relaxation to the body. And it only takes a few minutes of correct breathing to calm your nervous system.
Below is a quick exercise from Web MD to help you with this:
- Sit with your shoulders, head and neck supported against the back of your chair (or if possible, lie on your back with a pillow under your head and knees).
- Breathe in through your nose, let your belly fill with air.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
- Take three more full, deep breaths.
Q: My primary care physician said stress can be good sometimes. Is she right, and what does that even mean?
A: She is correct, “good stress” does exist. It usually refers to a life affirming event that’s also a radical change in one’s life, which often activates stress hormones. Good examples of this are getting married, having a baby, starting a new job, getting a promotion or moving to a foreign country – all positive happenings, but also radical changes.
Q: My youngest child, a teenager, has a very difficult time dealing with stress, much more so than her older siblings. What should I do?
A: There are a lot of ways to help with stress. As I wrote above, breath work is a good place to start. Below are more suggestions:
- Encourage your daughter to talk about how she’s feeling and ask if there’s anything in particular causing her more stress than usual. Even if it’s just regular teenage stuff, it’s healthy for her to share her feelings. And if she’s shy about sharing with you, connect her with a trusted counselor, friend or pastor.
- Make sure she’s exercising regularly, eating healthy, and getting ample sleep.
- Make sure she’s not using alcohol or drugs to “cope,” as these are destructive and could lead to depression and other mental health issues.
- Make sure she gets a physical. Sometimes, a person has an underlying physical issue that’s masquerading as ‘regular stress.’ An example of this would be a thyroid issue.
- Make sure she makes time to have fun with her friends and family. As they say, laughter is the best medicine!
This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit www.vnatc.com.