June 17th, 2019

calm calamity 6 tips for destressing your mind in distressing timesCourtesy graphicELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The holidays were a joyful time for many people and now that the holidays have passed, it is important for people to de-stress from all the festivities. 

With that de-stressing, Dr. Marshall Lewis with Southwest Guidance Center said there are a few different areas one must take care of. 

“First off, understand stress is normal and everyone has it, there's nothing unusual about it – if your life didn't have any stress there wouldn't be any motivation to do anything in life,” Lewis said. “Everyone reacts differently to stress and that's important to emphasize. For many people, getting back to a normal life and normal routine will be easier and will require only a few minor adjustments and for a lot of people it's not like that. When dealing with any type of new demand, I tend to think in terms of taking care of your body, mind and spirit and doing something for each of those three areas. Taking care of your body, that's the simplest one I think because most people know what they ought to do as far as eating properly, getting the right exercise, getting enough sleep. It's good to starting getting yourself back into those routines if they've been disrupted by the holidays in some way. If you haven't been able to start easing yourself back into your normal routine, now is a great time because the more you can do to take care of your body, the more demands you'll be able to handle so when they do come up you'll be able to better cope with them.”

Taking care of the body, Lewis said, will make it easier for one to take care of the mind as well. 

“As far as taking care of your mind, that is a little harder to do and part of that involves being aware of your thoughts and not necessarily going with every idea that pops into your head as it comes,” Lewis said. “If you're critical of yourself and keep telling yourself there are things you should be doing now that the holidays are over, where's the evidence that is in fact what needs to happen? People have all types of ideas and demands they put on themselves and sometimes you need to take a step back from all that and look at them objectively and clearly and ask yourself 'Is there really any reason to believe this, or am I just placing another demand on myself? Am I talking about something I prefer, or something I wish was true and demanding it to be true?' That's a mistake taking on those types of demands because it creates more stress for you and you actually end up disturbing yourself about things you might not actually have any control over. And something that can help you take care of your mind is maybe reading a book or spending some time with a favorite video game, but do something that's soothing to you so you can take a bit of a break from the world and just be.”

Along with taking care of the mind and body, Lewis said it is also important for people to take care of their spirit. 

“If you're a member of the faith community you can take part in those activities again if they happened to somewhat fall by the wayside during the holidays,” Lewis said. “Taking care of the spirit also involves things like gratitude – maybe the holidays were stressful because there was a lot of family visiting and it got overwhelming, but you're happy you got to spend that time with them you might not have. If you didn't have family visiting, maybe you were a little sad that's how it turned out, but maybe you have some appreciation that you got to have some time to reflect on important things. And with the holidays being done and now that you're back to work, think about the reasons why you work and do some reflection on that and be grateful for what it provides. There's a lot of things people can do. What's important to emphasize is everyone is different – some people thrive on more family contact around the holidays and somewhat more chaotic situations and then feel a bit lost after everyone leaves, and there are a lot of people who get overwhelmed with everything and feel more relieved after everyone leaves so they can have that time alone. Everyone is different and every situation is unique. But if you think about those three areas and think about what's best for your situation, it will be a great benefit to see what helps you the most.”

The next couple weeks, Lewis said, should see more clients come into SWGC. 

“A lot of what happens during the holidays is we see an uptick in crisis appointments starting a couple weeks before Christmas and then it tapers off some and then right now around New Year's it's still tapered off some and will remain that way for a couple more weeks,” Lewis said. “Then about the end of this month I expect we'll see more people. There's a bit of a storm right before the holidays, then the holidays themselves and immediately following resemble more of the eye of the storm and then in a few weeks we'll see that uptick and I would project around then is when we'll get back into more of a routine. What often happens is people experience some holiday stress, which is normal, but then on top of that, they may have tried to cope with that stress in an unhealthy way like excessive drinking or overeating, things like that. It's not just the stress from the holidays, some of it also has to do with how people handle that stress and then they feel stuck and aren't sure of what to do next, which is why a lot of them come to us as a neutral third party and maybe it's something they can't talk to family or friends about.”

For those who feel they need some extra help, Lewis said the center is open for just that. 

“It's very easy to set up an appointment here at Southwest Guidance Center, just call us and we'll get you set up for what we call an intake, which is the first session with one of our staff,” Lewis said. “You can also talk to friends or family if those relationships are there, and they are typically the ones who really notice if you're a bit off. If you're a member of the faith community you can also talk to your clergyperson, they typically offer some type of pastoral counseling. There are also school counselors who can be talked to if you're still a student. There's really a number of people you can talk to, and don't be scared to reach out to them or us, that's what we're here for. And it's unique to every situation, sometimes people are more comfortable talking to an uninvolved third party and sometimes people are more comfortable talking to family or friends who know you better. Like with many medical problems, if you catch it early, you can get it treated pretty simply and successfully, but if you let something go, it can get worse and then it'll get to the point where getting out of that hole, so to speak, is a lot harder. If you had some mild depression or anxiety but you're eking by and don't get help for it, it can get worse and the treatment later on becomes more difficult and more lengthy and possibly more complex. It's always easier to nip something in the bud and get it taken care of than to just let it fester and stew before it spirals out of control.”

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