Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stress And Your Down Times

By Rene A Lacape

The Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Scale is used to quantify stress by using a point system for the different types of stressors in life. Death of a spouse is the most stressful event, ranking 100 on the scale. Divorce is at 73, marital separation at 65, jail 63, death of a close family member 63, personal illness or injury 53. Happy occasions like marriage can also rank high on this scale.

While it's not feasible to measure our stress level every time we encounter stress, we could learn something by looking at the scale. You might not want to simultaneously commit yourself to two high stress events at the same time such as divorce and buying a new house. Or wait some time after getting married to get a new job. Being aware of what events bring high stress can help you plan with awareness so you don't get overwhelmed.

You can write a list of stress causing events on a list and paste it on a place where everyone in the family can see it. Now, you'll have a frequent reminder of life's struggles and how every family faces the same battles. It may prove to be a consolation in times of great pain and suffering.

Another important thing to do is to verbalize your feelings about a stressful event. Talk to your mate, your parents, a friend, or your pastor. If you feel as if there's simply no one to confide in, ask your family physician for a referral for a good therapist. Talking about your feelings is an important part of the healing process, and will enable you to deal with the stress much more efficiently.

Another way to understand the stress you're facing is to write it down. Use a diary and write down your deepest feelings. It can be a calming exercise and can be used to solve problems as well. Dealing with stress can take many forms. Reorganizing your personal files, taking a warm bath, by doing something to relax your nerves, you'll realize that setbacks are something that's temporary while life goes on.

Now that you're familiar with the stress scale, let's form a more pro-active approach. For starters, if your marriage is not improving with counseling, perhaps it's time to consider preparing for divorce. Also, if your father is in the hospital and suffering from a major illness, try your best to do all you can for him before he dies. What you're doing here is preparing for catastrophe. While it's stressful to think about such calamities, it can also help you handle life's traumatic events.

Another important strategy is to simply "take it slow." Don't hurry when making major life decisions, particularly when you are faced with a crisis. Recognize that most things in life do not require instantaneous decisions. You have the luxury of time, so use it to your full advantage. In the end, you'll be happy that you've taken the time to think things through, rather than making rash decisions. If you're in a "calm mode," you'll also be better able to handle the stress of difficult situations.

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