How to deal with life’s stresses

Published by rudy Date posted on January 6, 2009

How does one handle stress coming from a bossy employer, a philandering husband or unhappiness with life? Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Stress Situation 1: Arguments With Spouse

Dr. Jessy Ang, a psychiatrist from the University of Santo Tomas, gives these practical tips on how to deal with marital problems.

• First, give your partner some room to relax first when he or she comes back from work. Let him watch TV first or tinker with his gadgets for around 30 minutes before launching your offensive.

• Second, agree on some ground rules before engaging. Rule number 1 is to not bring up past mistakes. (“You always nag me and don’t support me.”) Rule number 2 is to not involve relatives and mothers-in-law in the argument. They’re off the topic. (“Your mom always looked down on me.”)

• Third, once the rules are set, gently list down one or two issues you’d like to solve. Ask your partner to help you using this mini problem-solving technique. What steps can we make to solve this? Is there something I don’t know about?

• Fourth, never use the word “you” when discussing, always use “I.” For example, “I am disappointed because of what happened. I feel bad about the situation.” When you start using the word “you,” the argument heats up. (“You never allow me.” “You always do this.”)

• Fifth, when one party begins to raise his/her voice, it’s time to call a “Time-out!” A time-out can last from an hour to a day. Respect the other person’s feelings until he/she is ready to talk again. Whew, what a life!

Stress Situation 2: Dealing With A Bossy Employer

Another eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Lee, gives the following advice when dealing with a difficult employer.

• First, list down the things you want to say to him. You can write down your feelings on paper to release the brewing tension.

• Second, look at your boss’ complaints from his point of view. Maybe he’s just stressed. Maybe he’s not really angry at you but at his life (mad at the world). Next, try to find an appropriate time to open up to your employer. Try to make him see you in a positive light, like what you can offer to the company. And if he’s still raving mad, you can humor him saying, “Sir, you look more handsome when you’re not angry.”

It’s really difficult, but try to find the good in every bossy boss.

Eight Stress-Reducing Tips

1) Identify the things that bring you stress. Sometimes, just finding out what stresses you already dissipates the stress. At least, you now know in your mind what you’re angry at or about.

2) Share some responsibilities. A shared burden is lighter for you to carry. You may even develop a new friendship in the process. Just make sure the other person also gets something in return for helping you out.

3) Find some humor even in the worst situation. Try to find a silver lining in every seeming disappointment. (“Well, I didn’t think he was husband material anyway.”)

Verbalize and release it. Say, for example, “I am so afraid to make this speech.” Talking about your fears will help you release it, and you can then refocus yourself.

4) Do things little by little. Don’t deal with a gargantuan problem in one sitting. Just make these teeny-weeny steps. A Japanese philosopher believes you can change the world by making little baby steps. Ask oneself, “What little improvement can I do to help my community? What little thing can I do to make my husband happy?” The key word is “little.” It gets you going in the right direction and it’s not stressful because it’s just a little, right?

5) Say, “So what, I don’t care!” This “devil may care” attitude helps you postpone your stress until you are ready to deal with it another day. Schedule a worry time. Tell yourself, “I’m going to sleep and forget about the problem. I’m going to deal with the issue at 11 a.m. tomorrow.” We must understand that there are times our body is weak in dealing with stress and there are times we are strong. If you get hit during your low point (you’re tired, it’s late in the evening, you’ve got other problems), tell yourself that your weakness is only temporary. You will beat that problem at the right time.

6) Get into a healthy mindset. Research shows that people who effectively handle stress have three things in common: a) They consider life a challenge; b) They feel they have a mission in life and are committed to fulfilling it; c) They don’t feel victimized by life but believe that setbacks are only temporary. In short, they have a positive outlook.

7) Do the things that relax you. For example, listening to music, lying in a dark room, taking a siesta, reading humorous books, watching a funny movie, talking with a friend, fixing up your house, taking a warm bath or just plain doing nothing. Health tips to relax you include avoiding coffee, doing aerobic exercises, breathing slowly and deeply in and out, and thinking of something peaceful and happy.

8) Finally, our best strategy for stress reduction is — helping other people. Just helping someone sicker, weaker or poorer than you will help you rethink your priorities and put things in the proper perspective. Happiness and richness are relative. And with all the blessings you are receiving, you can be happy today. Take care!

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E-mail comments to drwillieong@gmail.com.

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