Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coping Mechanisms

So . . . my life is crazy right now (but only for 4 more weeks!) I'm planning my Utah wedding to my Texas-dwelling fiance from my apartment in Indiana while working three jobs and finishing the last semester of my Master's degree. I mentioned in my last post that I may have had one or two breakdowns. This week, I want to address my recently developed anti-breakdown coping mechanisms. I developed a plan for myself this week, and it was  . . . surprisingly effective.

Let me say first, that normally, I am not prone to this awesome breakdown-filled lifestyle. I am prone to stress, though, and when I have multiple things to be stressed about, it builds up to epic proportions that sometimes result in some wonderful meltdowns about really important things like the Netflix queue. Think of these as preventative emergency coping mechanisms. :)
  1. Identify what causes you to get worked up. What sorts of things are upsetting or stressful to you? How do they get blown out of proportion? If it's something solvable, make a plan to solve it. If you can't do anything about it, decide how you will deal with that too. (For instance, all semester, I've stressed quite a bit about moving to Texas, and people ALWAYS want to talk to me about it. I know it will be fine when I get there, but when I talk about it, I think about plenty of reasons why it might not be. I've finally started saying, "You know, I appreciate your excitement, but I can't think about this right now. Can we talk about something else?" That way, I avoid telling them about all of my fears - and dredging them up again for myself.) I spent this week shutting down internal and external conversations about the things I couldn't do anything about yet, and making concrete plans to successfully deal with the things that can be done now. 
  2. Identify what makes you feel better. I actually made a physical list last week of what makes me feel better when I'm upset. (Getting up for a drink of water. Going for a walk or a drive. Watching Pushing Daisies or Buffy or Doctor Who. Flirting with my fiance over Skype. Eating Oreos.) If I have a list of options in place, I know exactly what I should do when I feel myself starting to get upset, and I don't have to figure it out when my judgment is clouded by an overabundance of stress adrenaline.
  3. Tell someone calming about your stress and your plan to cope with it. Figure out whether there are ways this person can help you to stop the impending overload before it comes to tears. Having someone to talk your stress level down over ice cream is invaluable. 

You, too, can cope with your stress, whether it's finals or holidays or children or whatever other curveballs life throws at you. A little planning goes a long way.

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1 comment:

Nathalie Shorten said...

This is very great advice. We spend so much time obsessing about what we cannot do anything about,especially as women since we're more emotional than men, especially since we have to cope with hormones on top of everything else. Sometimes we should be more like men. It's done, over with, MOVE ALONG...