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Keeping your cool during stressful times

21st March 2020. Reading Time: 8 minutes 1433 page views.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment with the spread of the Corona COVID19 virus.  People are having their hours reduced, small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, many staff have taken to working from home and some people have lost their jobs.  While this is stressful, over coming months we will be expected to stay at home with our families in close confines.  This in itself presents its own set of challenges.  

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment with the spread of the Corona COVID19 virus.  People are having their hours reduced, small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, many staff have taken to working from home and some people have lost their jobs.  While this is stressful, over coming months we will be expected to stay at home with our families in close confines.  This in itself presents its own set of challenges.  

How to deal with stress

  • Confide in a friend. Someone that will listen to you. They can be a member of the household, a friend or even someone at work. It is hard to put yourself in such a vulnerable state but it is important to talk.  While we may be practicing social distancing, there are many ways to stay connected with the outside world.  Video call friends and family members.  There will be many people feeling the stress of the current events that you can talk to.  While we may be physically isolating ourselves, it is important not to mentally distance ourselves.
  • Mental health has a connection to physical health. Make sure you are eating a healthy balanced diet. Exercise is not only physically beneficial, but it can be mentally therapeutic as well. Take the stress out on the weights machine or focus it on the treadmill.  There are a lot of fast and easy exercise routines you can do from the comfort of your home.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. These are a coping mechanism and not a solution to your problems. 
  • Get some sleep. How many hours of sleep are you really getting each night? Exhaustion can amplify feelings of stress and anxiety. It is recommended that the average adult get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Seek professional help. There are many programs available that can assist you. Contact us today and we can help!

Be present with your family and friends. Spend quality time working on your bond and closeness with your family.

This is the type of event that your children will remember for the rest of their lives.  How do you want them to remember this experience?  With extended time at home, use this as an opportunity to reconnect and bond with your family.  You don't normally get this time together and your children are not young forever.  Make the time you spend as a family count. 

1. Building relationships with your children builds their self esteem

Children who spend quality time with their loved ones generally have self-confidence. They are more sociable because they sense that their parents value them. Also, kids with self-esteem find it easy to build relationships.

2. Creating bonds

Spending time with family strengthens family ties. Also, families who enjoy group activities will develop strong relationships and handle stressful situations with ease. In this busy day and age, it is a luxury for parents to spend time with their children. Making time for the family will allow you to teach your kids valuable life lessons like kindness and fairness.  While you may be limited in where you can go out as a family, there are plenty of activities you can do at home.  Play games in the backyard or sit down and have a board game night.  Make some popcorn and put on a movie.  

3. Nurturing positive behaviours

Consequently, kids will start to develop positive behaviours because loved ones influence them. Research has shown that children who ate regular meals with their families performed better in school. Furthermore, adolescents who spent more time with their parents tended not to abuse alcohol. This is a great opportunity for you to role model positive behaviour with being responsible with alcohol yourself. While it may be tempting to have a drink while you do your work from home, it can quickly spiral out of control.  Maybe ask yourself: Do I need another drink? Do I need a drink now? Maybe have that drink later in the day rather than early. Do not use excuses to justify bad behaviour. If you children see you are stressed and lashing out, they themselves are likely to do the same.  Lead by example. (Showing our boys how to become good men). 

4. Creating memories

Another reason for having family time is to make memories. Children share more about their lives in these situations rather than if you ask them ‘What happened in school today?  Use your group activities as a time to check in with your children and see how they are feeling.  Reassure them during what is a time of uncertainty for them as well.  The need to feel they are loved and that they are safe.

5. Healthy Lifestyle

Spending a lot time of home can lead to a lot of unhealthily eating habits.  With colder weather coming, it also means there are less opportunities to go outside and exercise.  Don't use this as an excuse to eat poorly the entire time.  Your children will generally eat what you eat so as much as possible it is good to ensure a healthy eating routine.  Try and go for a walk together or if you have to stay indoors, think of some fun exercises you could do together.  Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress.

Knowing your triggers

Of course it is not always going to be easy.  With the stress of reduced or no income coming and having to live in close quarters with one another for a long time, there are bound to be disagreements.  It is important how you handle these situations and not place the blame on the other person.

Over the last 20 years of working with men and facilitating men’s behavior change programs often I have heard men say after they have had an explosion, “man I would not have lost it, if she didn’t press my buttons” or “I would not have lost it if they did not triggered me..”. The problem with using these statements you are suggesting someone else is responsible for your triggers and you are justifying your behavior. Remembering if your anger outburst scares or intimidates someone; it’s a form of abuse. In this article the term “my triggers” and “push my buttons” are the same.
The first thing we need to realize is no one “presses my buttons” or “pushes my buttons”.
Rather than handling anger issues after the fact, or after the “Explosion” it is far better to prevent
an abusive outburst from happening by recognising when you are in the “Build Up” phase.
To avoid the “Explosion”, one would have to be intentionally aware of triggers that cause us to erupt. Therefore, to cut off the “Build Up” process in its early phase, a good understanding of your own triggers is essential.

Triggers are unique to each person

There are many ways we can be triggered, and these triggers are usually different from person to person based on individual life experiences. For instance, if you were bullied significantly during your childhood, your triggers will be intense towards someone who is controlling or threatening.

Here are common triggers to driving the Build-Up phase:

By knowing your triggers, you may anticipate your “Build Up” and therefore avoiding an angry outburst.
Triggers are ways that someone can experience a complete emotional hijacking. In some cases; adults who have had certain volatile childhood experiences can become very explosive when those situations are recreated in their current lives.

Identifying our triggers

It is important for us to realize what our triggers are and to be aware of what issues in our lives promote a high alert and drive us to react to the situation; generally, it is associated with one’s threat to power and control over a situation or over others. Once we identify our triggers, it is beneficial to determine why these triggers cause such an emotionally charged response. It may be helpful to write a list of your triggers as you begin to recognize them and the ways you have dealt with them in the past so you can be prepared to take control of them and choose to respond to them in a more positive proactive way which puts a stop to your “Build Up”.

You can anticipate your Build Up by understanding the underlying reasons for your triggers; this will allow you to anticipate potential abusive explosions. When we understand our triggers, we can sit with the “Build-Up” (the “hot seat’ moment) and provide an intentional response, hopefully aborting the episode. If we are attuned and aware of our triggers, we are better able to predict our own response and make Choices not to react in an abusive manner.

This means that we will be:

  1. Observational about what is going on to trigger us, and
  2. Take measures to talk ourselves into a more acceptable response that will allow us to be in control of how we are reacting to the situation. This means the need to challenge our thoughts and possibly implementing a Time Out strategy.

Being more in charge of your reaction during the Build-Up comes from the self-control you maintain in recognising your Build Up signs and in knowing and understanding your triggers. Managing your thoughts and emotions enables a better opportunity for a positive response rather than an abusive reaction.

A solution that could help:

It may sound somewhat simplistic; our world would be a totally different place if we were aware of what triggers our abusive outbursts. Then, we can put a strategy in place, like “Time Out” that would permit us to rethink and to make Assessments, Choices and Execute the Choices which keep us in a much calmer place.

Would you like to become the master of your triggers? Download a copy of our trigger worksheet by clicking this link:

Trigger Worksheet

If of course you do find you are becoming overwhelmed, there are resources available to you.

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