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Author Topic: Resources for helping to deal with stress  (Read 362 times)

PerditaPickle

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Resources for helping to deal with stress
« on: August 30, 2019, 06:57:13 pm »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?

I'm aware of lots and lots of relaxation methods, breathing techniques, the AA serenity prayer.

I've got lots and lots of guided meditations, MP3s, podcasts, the Little Book of Calm, etc.

I know exercise is really great at combating stress, if one is physically able enough to do any (which I sadly am not).

I contemplated shutting myself in a private office at work today and screaming into a pillow.

I had a good chat with a friend, including commiserations and a laugh even, on the journey home from work this evening but then it was all spoiled when I thought my internet banking credentials were comprised and had to spend an hour on hold to my bank, getting more and more distressed all the while.

I'd love to find something that is effective for those times when I am too overwhelmed to even contemplate sitting down to meditate/breathe/whatever.  It's like I'm too keyed-up to even keep my limbs still enough to try any of that stuff.

I might try my trick of writing some keywords related to my current stressors on a sheet of toilet tissue and then shredding & flushing it.

I think I'm asking for a magic wand, please Mr Ollivander!

But seriously if anyone knows any resources I might not have heard of as yet I'd be interested to learn, and I'm even prepared to invest in a paid product or app at this point (provided it's not too excessively expensive that is).

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2019, 08:05:31 pm »
But seriously if anyone knows any resources I might not have heard of as yet I'd be interested to learn, and I'm even prepared to invest in a paid product or app at this point (provided it's not too excessively expensive that is).

I'm assuming that getting rid of the stressors themselves is not an option. (If it is, even if just for some little things, go for it. Getting rid of even a minor annoyance, like replacing an uncomfortable pillow, can help reduce overall stress.)

One method for handling being 'keyed-up' that works for me is music: starting with something fast-paced that matches my current energy, and gradually stepping down until I'm listening to Enya or something.

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2019, 09:30:40 pm »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?

One of my favorites is obvious and trite: looking at pictures of kittens on the internet (or video, especially if there's purring to listen to). For those who don't care for kittens, the internet also has lots of cute pics of puppies, bunnies, foxes, meerkats, etc. My shrink is not big on baby animals, but instead favors nature scenes.

Oh, and astrophotography; I love beautiful astropics.

Adding the above parenthetical reminded me that I also like various 'relaxing sounds' tracks - thunderstorms/rainstorms are especially soothing to me, but I also enjoy brooks/rivers/waterfalls and birdsong.

I can give links to examples on request, but they're not hard to find.

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2019, 09:34:39 pm »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?

Agreeing with Sefiru here. (And Sunflower, who posted while I had this open...)

It sounds like you have good options for when you can stop and catch your breath, but not so great options for right in the moment.

If you're working with a therapist (or something similar), this is a great question to ask them - someone who knows you, who can see physical tendencies, etc. can make specific suggestions about some things that might help with that part.

Stuff you might consider trying:

- Keep a list somewhere immediate-access with a list of things you can do right now (i.e. do not take specific items or space). Some people do this as a card in their wallet, some people do a background on their phone, or something on their phone they can pull up with a tap or two. If you do the wallet, they make lamination self-stick sheets that help protect a card.)

- I have a playlist called "for bad days" which is just what it sounds like - music that reliably either puts me in a good mood, or at least gives me fortitude to go on. Usually I only need to do a song or two to get myself into a place where I can make the next set of choices better.

- You mention having a hard time keeping still - can you find a private space (bathroom stall will work if you have to) and try shaking that out? By which I mean shaking all that buzzy energy down to your hand or your foot and then away from you.

The other thing I do is when I've already had a bad day, rearrange the evening so that I have time to decompress. It's not always possible, but it helps keep things from cascading downhill most of the time.
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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2019, 06:36:50 am »
I'm aware of lots and lots of relaxation methods, breathing techniques, the AA serenity prayer.

Half fill a pan with water put it on the stove and when its boiling watch the steam.

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« Last Edit: September 01, 2019, 03:31:16 pm by SunflowerP »
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2019, 06:43:32 am »
I'm assuming that getting rid of the stressors themselves is not an option. (If it is, even if just for some little things, go for it. Getting rid of even a minor annoyance, like replacing an uncomfortable pillow, can help reduce overall stress.)

One method for handling being 'keyed-up' that works for me is music: starting with something fast-paced that matches my current energy, and gradually stepping down until I'm listening to Enya or something.

Thanks for posting, and you're right about getting rid of minor annoyances where possible (and of course larger stressors if that's possible).  It can be hard when a whole variety of stressors from all different directions unexpectedly comes at you in quick succession, sort of a snowballing effect.  I'm not a big one for music usually but it's certainly worth thinking about making a playlist in preparation for future occasions when this 'snowballing' effect happens.

One of my favorites is obvious and trite: looking at pictures of kittens on the internet

Definitely!  Always makes me smile (so long as I don't inadvertently come across any videos where there's an animal in distress in the mix).  My actual cats helped yesterday too, came and sat on me for a couple of minutes one after the other - I wasn't able to sit still long enough, really, but they were a nice few minutes.  Kit cats must've sensed my distress I think.

I also make use of nature photos as backgrounds, screen savers and so on as they've a calming effect on me just generally.  And I've a wonderful 1 hour ocean sounds MP3 from the MyNoise website Jenett recommended recently (which I can't recommend highly enough!) which I listen to on a loop at work when necessary (usually for at least one hour out of each day, though my ear bugs unfortunately go in & out, in & out when I'm being sought after for colleague questions and customer phone calls).  Thanks for posting, too.

If you're working with a therapist (or something similar), this is a great question to ask them - someone who knows you, who can see physical tendencies, etc. can make specific suggestions about some things that might help with that part.

Stuff you might consider trying:

- Keep a list somewhere immediate-access with a list of things you can do right now (i.e. do not take specific items or space). Some people do this as a card in their wallet, some people do a background on their phone, or something on their phone they can pull up with a tap or two. If you do the wallet, they make lamination self-stick sheets that help protect a card.)

- I have a playlist called "for bad days" which is just what it sounds like - music that reliably either puts me in a good mood, or at least gives me fortitude to go on. Usually I only need to do a song or two to get myself into a place where I can make the next set of choices better.

- You mention having a hard time keeping still - can you find a private space (bathroom stall will work if you have to) and try shaking that out? By which I mean shaking all that buzzy energy down to your hand or your foot and then away from you.

The other thing I do is when I've already had a bad day, rearrange the evening so that I have time to decompress. It's not always possible, but it helps keep things from cascading downhill most of the time.

Thanks, as always, for your reply.  No therapist at present, unfortunately.

I do have a set of stretching exercises which I will usually do (in, as you say, the bathroom stall while at work) - adding the shaking it out technique to the beginning of this 'routine' would probably be a really good option.

I wasn't able to find time to do the stretches yesterday before finishing work as I was too much in demand from colleagues & customers and was finishing early to take advantage of a lift home (due to a rail strike here yesterday).  With hindsight, of course, it would have been beneficial to say to hell with the demands and take 15 minutes to do the stretches anyway as it might've helped things not to snowball quite so badly yesterday afternoon/evening (and I might have had more resilience later in the evening when fearing my online banking credentials were compromised & to deal with that situation better).

The quick reference list is also such a good idea - I actually made up a tiny pocket sized notebook for my husband for his anxiety some time ago, with a different idea on each page (sounds wasteful, but it was so that if one idea didn't seem helpful in the moment and was therefore off-putting to him he could keep flipping through until he found something that might help).  I could do it on my phone, or even clip it to the reverse side of my work ID card, which obviously has to be on me at all times at work!  Then even if my panicky brain forgets about it, I should be able to catch sight of it by chance at intervals throughout the day.  Simple, but sounds effective!

Half fill a pan with water put it on the stove and when its boiling watch the steam.

Thanks for your suggestion - another simple one but could be quite effective at times.

Thanks again, everyone!   :)


ETA punctuation
« Last Edit: August 31, 2019, 06:47:52 am by PerditaPickle »

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2019, 02:14:57 pm »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?



My stress buster of choice is cross stitch! I used to do an awful lot when I was in financial services  It kept my hands and brain busy which stopped me worrying about the decisions I'd made that day and whether they were right.

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2019, 09:58:49 pm »
I'd love to find something that is effective for those times when I am too overwhelmed to even contemplate sitting down to meditate/breathe/whatever.  It's like I'm too keyed-up to even keep my limbs still enough to try any of that stuff.

When I'm overwhelmed and anxious is absolutely the worst time for me to meditate. I mediate daily, but only when I am calm.

For the moments of high stress and anxiety, I find it better to focus on movement.  Intentional full body movement works best for me - walking, yoga or tai chi.  When that's not possible, I try to go for something that's repetitive and focused rather than fidgety - crocheting, hand-sewing, prayer beads.
 
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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2019, 03:29:45 am »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?

ASMR. (There's also a good article here on sleep.org - https://www.sleep.org/articles/what-is-asmr/)

Two of my favourite ASMR youtubers are Gentle Whispering and ASMR Tingleplay (formerly ASMRmania). "Tinglehead" is a nickname given to people who enjoy listening to ASMR recordings. :)

I find it's a great way to calm down and just be in the moment.
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Starlight

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2019, 03:54:38 am »

It sounds like you have good options for when you can stop and catch your breath, but not so great options for right in the moment.


Simply taking deep breaths helps. When we're stressed our bodies automatically go into shallow-breathing mode, so making ourselves take deep breaths is a way to calm down the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight reactions).

There's also the 4-7-8 breathing technique - inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, exhale for a count of 8. But even if you can't hold for a count of 7 (or hold the breath at all), the breathing technique is still going to help. There's something about the exhale being longer than the inhale that helps the body to de-stress.
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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2019, 03:35:44 pm »

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2019, 03:54:47 pm »
Simply taking deep breaths helps. When we're stressed our bodies automatically go into shallow-breathing mode, so making ourselves take deep breaths is a way to calm down the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight reactions).

Excellent advice, but I do want to add (because a friend of mine was confused by this for years! - so I know it can confuse people), that 'deep breaths' means specifically slow (or slower, anyway) diaphragm breaths (there is a Wikipedia article on this, whose factual accuracy is disputed - and there does seem to be a lot of woo in it - but the intro paragraph describes what I mean reasonably well), not just turning one's shallow rapid anxiety-breaths into huge rapid gulps of air.

Coincidentally, Perdita, I started my day today with the first (and so far only) episode of a new podcast that consists almost entirely of the podcaster's cat purring loudly, that I stumbled across via my Twitter notifications. I'm feeling pretty laid-back and relaxed, and I don't think it's unrelated. OTOH, I see you have in-house feline therapy, and more than one therapist, so someone else's cat purring is probably redundant. You could, though, make a recording of your own cats having a good purr, that you can have with you on a suitable device!

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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2019, 11:02:42 pm »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?

Something that my husband and I are going to be doing starting tomorrow AM is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron (I think), namely the daily tool of doing morning pages. Basically, from what I've read thus far, when you wake up, you go right to writing a longhand stream of consciousness for three pages. If you can't do that, you write, "I don't know what to write here." repeatedly until it fills three pages. I'm doing it mainly for support for hubby, but from what I've observed, when he did it for several weeks/months before getting off the habit due to work (and a change in his meds), he was much calmer, more focused, and able to go through the negative stuff life threw at him easier.

This time around, we're both going to do it, and I hope that it'll help me out as well dealing with some crap at work...
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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2019, 05:44:38 am »
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Re: Resources for helping to deal with stress
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2019, 05:46:56 pm »
Anyone have any effective resources for dealing with stress (and other, related undesirable emotions)?

I'm aware of lots and lots of relaxation methods, breathing techniques, the AA serenity prayer.

I've got lots and lots of guided meditations, MP3s, podcasts, the Little Book of Calm, etc.

I know exercise is really great at combating stress, if one is physically able enough to do any (which I sadly am not).

I contemplated shutting myself in a private office at work today and screaming into a pillow.

I had a good chat with a friend, including commiserations and a laugh even, on the journey home from work this evening but then it was all spoiled when I thought my internet banking credentials were comprised and had to spend an hour on hold to my bank, getting more and more distressed all the while.

I'd love to find something that is effective for those times when I am too overwhelmed to even contemplate sitting down to meditate/breathe/whatever.  It's like I'm too keyed-up to even keep my limbs still enough to try any of that stuff.

I might try my trick of writing some keywords related to my current stressors on a sheet of toilet tissue and then shredding & flushing it.

I think I'm asking for a magic wand, please Mr Ollivander!

But seriously if anyone knows any resources I might not have heard of as yet I'd be interested to learn, and I'm even prepared to invest in a paid product or app at this point (provided it's not too excessively expensive that is).

I have high anxiety and a low stress threshold in addition to other mental ailments for which I am medicated and in therapy.

The therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, so I do thought records to track evidence for and against core beliefs to come to a more balanced thought.

I had a hellish vet trip today, and my cat became car sick and had an accident in the carrier.  I already have driving anxiety, and I don't like transporting Crowley, my cat, in the car.

In those moments and in others like them, in which thought records are not feasible, I pray to my Tiger (one of my "good angels," as I fondly refer to them, whatever they are). Sometimes I will simply say, "Help me, help me!"

And I simply surrender to the anxiety, fears, the stressful emotions whatever they are.  I let them wash over me until they are exhausted or otherwise transformed.

I can't fight it, so I go with the flow and turn my mind to little acts of devotion and short prayers of exclamation.  These are referred to in Catholicism as aspirations or, traditionally, ejaculatory prayer, but I use this method in my own spiritual context.

I do not "offer up" suffering in the sense that suffering is somehow a good thing.  However, I do surrender to the suffering and offer my devotions in their midst in the hope that I can make of them something good to give.  I developed this approach to prayer and suffering in dialogue with a Catholic friend.
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