I was talking with a friend recently about life stages. He said somewhat jokingly, “I thought when I got out of high school things would be good, college would be without problems, when that wasn’t the case I thought once I finished college things would be easy, I would have a job and life would be easy, and now I realize that there are adult problems!”

He is right. At all stages of life we are going to experience stressors. Many people experience similar stressors including illness or death in the family, relationships with family, work environments, or managing time. Not all stressors are negative events, however. Some events in a person’s life cause stress and unsettling emotions but the reason is something positive. This is called eustress. Some examples of this could be planning a wedding and the merging of two families, training for an athletic event, or even the holidays.

As my friend realized, stress is going to occur whether it is “good” or “bad.” So, how are effective ways to deal with it? A professor of mine used to say, “this too shall pass.” There is a lot of truth in that. It seems like the current situation will never end and that you will never be without feelings of stress for the rest of your life. But indeed it is important to remember, “this too shall pass.” But that leaves the question, “what can be done during this passing of time?”

There are a number of stress management techniques that people have used and found effective. Some people look to friends in time of stress. I strongly recommend this. It is important to have people to confide in, to share life with, who are not going to judge you These are people that have your best interest in mind. It is nice to know you have someone “in your corner.” Another thing that can be helpful if you are going through stress, is to learn something new (assuming your stress is not coming from lack of time.) Possibly learning about a new subject, family history, or even a new instrument.

If stress does come from too much on your plate it could be important to clean it off a little and spend some time alone. Some time in prayer or meditation can be calming, although hard to practice in the beginning if you are used to doing something every minute, it can be helpful.

Seeing a counselor can help with stress in that you have someone to listen who is coming from a neutral stance to give you some guidance. The counselor can be a calming presence when your feel like you are in the eye of a storm.

When stress comes remember, “this too shall pass” and there are techniques to get you through.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

 

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