Keep calm and carry on: How to deal with stress

Keep calm and carry on: How to deal with stress

by Kiera Vargas
Stripes Europe

Monopoly is one of my least favorite games to play. The thought of “do not pass go, do not collect $200,” and having to go to jail sounds fun to some, but not to me. Having to pay extra taxes, sit out a turn, or sell property actually resembles real-life stress so much that I would rather never play the game again. A little stress can make us more productive, but too much can send us into a downward spiral. The trick is to find ways to cope when the stress becomes too much to handle. 

Stress is a fact of life. It never leaves us — whether good or bad it is always there. Stress is trying to juggle a deployment, a child who may have difficulty at school, a child with a medical condition, periodical disagreements with your spouse, extra duties at work or daily living tasks (like grocery shopping). 

We have to take care of others and ourselves because no one is immune to stress. I recently encountered a young woman sitting in her car crying. She resembled me and others I know who have reached their limits. The young lady and I ended up chatting. I listened to her talk about unfortunate circumstances that made her feel defeated and overwhelmed, and I immediately wished that we as a society did a better job of addressing stress and its effects. We must remember people in our lives may need our support more than we think. 

Whether you feel the effects or not, the drastic change of moving overseas causes stress long after the last box is unpacked. Luckily, there are many ways we can cope with it. Find a hobby that is relaxing and fulfilling. Locate a therapist you can turn to when things feel chaotic beyond what you can handle. Make friends locally who can provide a shoulder to lean on — someone who will lend a hand with child care, errands and other commitments when times get tough. 

Remember stress affects children, too. Children are resilient, but parents, educators and family members must take time to notice that “students stress out about their home life, grades, admittance to their reach school and acceptance among peer groups,” according to Tikela Weldon, a counselor at High Point Central High School in High Point, North Carolina. Parents must remember that children thrive on schedules, just as infants do. And much like babies, adolescents whose schedules are thrown off will experience stress. They may also cry out for help in various ways as they try to adapt. 

To assist students, Weldon works to “find the root cause of the stress,” teaches “breathing techniques,” and “explains the detriments of stressing.” With all the changes military children endure, Weldon warns parents to take into account stressors, such as “anxiety, eating disorders and other health concerns,” that may “affect grades and attendance.” 

Just as students stress about grades, employees stress about their work. According to Courtney Rhodes, a senior legal recruiter consultant for Wells Fargo and co-owner of professional development company Rucker Rhodes, stress can negatively affect job performance. Rhodes has found, “The commonalities of the bad stress clouding clients’ lives are always fear and uncertainty. People stress over what could happen if they are unsuccessful and the possible consequence of being unable to take are of their families.” 

Rhodes gives pointers to clients, such as remaining calm by “taking deep breaths to focus” and “meditating often.” She also urges individuals to seek help and find positive people in their lives who will help them stay on track to accomplish goals. Lastly, Rhodes says if we “exchange stress for confidence, we will always be successful.” 

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