Article Contributed by Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW
During this COVID-10 pandemic, everyone’s stress has increased. Just how much depends not only on circumstance but on coping skills. There are better and worse ways to handle stress, including skills you can learn and practice which will help you reduce psychic and physical tension, become a better problem-solver, and feel more optimistic about the future. Here are three easy techniques.
- Mind your self talk
Tell yourself not how you feel, but how you wish to feel. Instead of repeating, “I’m so overwhelmed, I can’t take it any more,” say, “I’ll handle this challenge just fine” or “Everything will turn out alright.” If you focus on the negative, you will feel negative. If you soothe and calm yourself, you will relax. So, listen to your self-talk and make corrections as necessary.
- Manage uncertainty
There are things you can control right now and those you can’t. Stop thinking in all-nothing terms as in, “This is hopeless and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Take the steps you can to stay healthy, care for yourself and others, and keep life as normal as possible. Recognize that uncertainty does not necessarily mean that bad things will happen. It just means that you don’t know right now what the future will bring.
- Focus on the future
A technique called leap-frogging involves not thinking about an upsetting upcoming event but on how much better you’ll feel when it’s over. Rather than dwell on how awful life is now, put your mental focus on how wonderful it will be when it’s back to normal. That may take a while, even a long whle, but hold the vision of it in your mind. By envisioning a happier time, you will automatically feel better.
Put these techniques into practice and you’ll learn how to manage your thoughts. It’s not magic, just a magical combination of intention and attention.