Keeping Stress Under Control in a Crisis

Reviewed May 26, 2016

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Summary

  • Avoid extreme thinking.
  • Stop "rehearsing" negative thoughts.
  • Use "thought" stoppage.

After or during a crisis, you may sense that your stress levels have been rising. Although you want to focus on work and productive routines, you may find it hard to deal with the crisis as well as all of your personal responsibilities.

Manage stress levels with these tips

Avoid extreme thinking. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “Since the crisis, my life is going downhill,” you are practicing extreme thinking.

Extreme thinking is not only gloomy, but it also is inaccurate. Try replacing every extreme thought with something more realistic.

For instance, you could say: “This crisis is horrendous, but I will find ways to make my life better because of it.”

Stop “rehearsing” negative thoughts. Remember that the quickest way to bring on full-scale depression is to repeat the same negative thoughts over and over.

Imagine that every negative thought you repeat over and over is like using a shovel to dig yourself into a depression. Instead, reflect on positive thoughts and ideas every day and use positive wording in conversations with others.

Use “thought stoppage.” If grim thoughts and images fill your mind, try wearing a rubber band around your wrist. When a thought you want to get out of your mind appears, flip the rubber band hard and say, “No!” Then focus on something more pleasant. After two or three days of doing this exercise, you should find that you are able to steer your thinking away from disturbing thoughts.

Emergency responders often use this technique in getting over a critical event that resulted in a grim scene they can’t forget. While this will not work on general stress or vague feelings of worry, it will help you to stop thinking about a specific thought or image that keeps playing in your mind.

Find “control buttons” to control stress levels

Place all of your worries into different “baskets.” Do not lump all of your problems—money worries, job concerns, or marriage problems—into one giant basket. If you do, you will feel overwhelmed trying to deal with them all.

Manage your problems in bite-size pieces. Split each problem into small chunks. For example, if you have money worries, ask yourself: “How can I make one minor improvement in my finances every week for 10 straight weeks?”

Address the crisis, but keep boundaries around your personal life. You will want to do what you can to resolve the crisis.

However, resist linking too many personal problems and private thoughts to the crisis. In other words, don’t use the anxiety associated with the crisis as an excuse to neglect personal goals. Getting caught up in a crisis can help you avoid addressing important issues that you needed to deal with before this all came about. Focusing too much on the crisis will only hinder you from living productively.

Make all future decisions with caution instead of fear. Although you can learn from the ordeal you went through, don’t let fear of another crisis paralyze you. Learn, grow, and press on.

By Judi Light Hopson
Source: Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress by Judith Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson, RN and Jeff T. Dyar. Prentice Hall, 2000; Life Strategies: Doing What Works/Doing What Matters by Phillip C. McGraw, PhD. Hyperion, 2000.
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Avoid extreme thinking.
  • Stop "rehearsing" negative thoughts.
  • Use "thought" stoppage.

After or during a crisis, you may sense that your stress levels have been rising. Although you want to focus on work and productive routines, you may find it hard to deal with the crisis as well as all of your personal responsibilities.

Manage stress levels with these tips

Avoid extreme thinking. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “Since the crisis, my life is going downhill,” you are practicing extreme thinking.

Extreme thinking is not only gloomy, but it also is inaccurate. Try replacing every extreme thought with something more realistic.

For instance, you could say: “This crisis is horrendous, but I will find ways to make my life better because of it.”

Stop “rehearsing” negative thoughts. Remember that the quickest way to bring on full-scale depression is to repeat the same negative thoughts over and over.

Imagine that every negative thought you repeat over and over is like using a shovel to dig yourself into a depression. Instead, reflect on positive thoughts and ideas every day and use positive wording in conversations with others.

Use “thought stoppage.” If grim thoughts and images fill your mind, try wearing a rubber band around your wrist. When a thought you want to get out of your mind appears, flip the rubber band hard and say, “No!” Then focus on something more pleasant. After two or three days of doing this exercise, you should find that you are able to steer your thinking away from disturbing thoughts.

Emergency responders often use this technique in getting over a critical event that resulted in a grim scene they can’t forget. While this will not work on general stress or vague feelings of worry, it will help you to stop thinking about a specific thought or image that keeps playing in your mind.

Find “control buttons” to control stress levels

Place all of your worries into different “baskets.” Do not lump all of your problems—money worries, job concerns, or marriage problems—into one giant basket. If you do, you will feel overwhelmed trying to deal with them all.

Manage your problems in bite-size pieces. Split each problem into small chunks. For example, if you have money worries, ask yourself: “How can I make one minor improvement in my finances every week for 10 straight weeks?”

Address the crisis, but keep boundaries around your personal life. You will want to do what you can to resolve the crisis.

However, resist linking too many personal problems and private thoughts to the crisis. In other words, don’t use the anxiety associated with the crisis as an excuse to neglect personal goals. Getting caught up in a crisis can help you avoid addressing important issues that you needed to deal with before this all came about. Focusing too much on the crisis will only hinder you from living productively.

Make all future decisions with caution instead of fear. Although you can learn from the ordeal you went through, don’t let fear of another crisis paralyze you. Learn, grow, and press on.

By Judi Light Hopson
Source: Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress by Judith Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson, RN and Jeff T. Dyar. Prentice Hall, 2000; Life Strategies: Doing What Works/Doing What Matters by Phillip C. McGraw, PhD. Hyperion, 2000.
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Avoid extreme thinking.
  • Stop "rehearsing" negative thoughts.
  • Use "thought" stoppage.

After or during a crisis, you may sense that your stress levels have been rising. Although you want to focus on work and productive routines, you may find it hard to deal with the crisis as well as all of your personal responsibilities.

Manage stress levels with these tips

Avoid extreme thinking. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “Since the crisis, my life is going downhill,” you are practicing extreme thinking.

Extreme thinking is not only gloomy, but it also is inaccurate. Try replacing every extreme thought with something more realistic.

For instance, you could say: “This crisis is horrendous, but I will find ways to make my life better because of it.”

Stop “rehearsing” negative thoughts. Remember that the quickest way to bring on full-scale depression is to repeat the same negative thoughts over and over.

Imagine that every negative thought you repeat over and over is like using a shovel to dig yourself into a depression. Instead, reflect on positive thoughts and ideas every day and use positive wording in conversations with others.

Use “thought stoppage.” If grim thoughts and images fill your mind, try wearing a rubber band around your wrist. When a thought you want to get out of your mind appears, flip the rubber band hard and say, “No!” Then focus on something more pleasant. After two or three days of doing this exercise, you should find that you are able to steer your thinking away from disturbing thoughts.

Emergency responders often use this technique in getting over a critical event that resulted in a grim scene they can’t forget. While this will not work on general stress or vague feelings of worry, it will help you to stop thinking about a specific thought or image that keeps playing in your mind.

Find “control buttons” to control stress levels

Place all of your worries into different “baskets.” Do not lump all of your problems—money worries, job concerns, or marriage problems—into one giant basket. If you do, you will feel overwhelmed trying to deal with them all.

Manage your problems in bite-size pieces. Split each problem into small chunks. For example, if you have money worries, ask yourself: “How can I make one minor improvement in my finances every week for 10 straight weeks?”

Address the crisis, but keep boundaries around your personal life. You will want to do what you can to resolve the crisis.

However, resist linking too many personal problems and private thoughts to the crisis. In other words, don’t use the anxiety associated with the crisis as an excuse to neglect personal goals. Getting caught up in a crisis can help you avoid addressing important issues that you needed to deal with before this all came about. Focusing too much on the crisis will only hinder you from living productively.

Make all future decisions with caution instead of fear. Although you can learn from the ordeal you went through, don’t let fear of another crisis paralyze you. Learn, grow, and press on.

By Judi Light Hopson
Source: Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress by Judith Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson, RN and Jeff T. Dyar. Prentice Hall, 2000; Life Strategies: Doing What Works/Doing What Matters by Phillip C. McGraw, PhD. Hyperion, 2000.
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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