Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Learning to cope with stress

One of my triggering factors in past relapses of depression seemed to be stress and strain. I am a bit of a perfectionist. So my expectation of myself can be rather high. Unknowingly I put a lot of stress on myself to get a piece of work done well. I will also experience more disappointments when I can’t do well or things do not turn out the way I wish it to.

I also have difficulty being assertive and so am often caught in very difficult and stressful situations and yet not able to find a way out. I have problem saying “no” and feel obliged to take on more than I can handle.

When I am manic, I also misjudged my ability and tend to do more or take on more projects than I can manage.

When stressed, I will experience physical symptoms such as jaw pain. I often mistakenly thought it was toothache but repeated visits to dentist revealed no tooth decay. Dentist suspected that I clenched my teeth when I am stressed. I am not conscious of this but he said this is typical of his patients who suffer from stress or depression and they clenched their teeth unknowingly.

I also began to experience tension headache recently when I am stressed or strained. I will also experience extreme exhaustion.

I am coping by using the following:

1) Try to keep to a regular hours or routine to ensure that I get enough sleep every day.

2) Learn to be more aware and recognize early symptoms that I am being stressed up. The jaw pain and tension headaches are warning signs that I can’t ignore anymore. In the past, I can endure them by just taking pain-killers for months, but now I know these are warning signs and I must do something about the situations in my life.

3) Pray and seek God’s grace, wisdom and strength. Once I recognized that I am being stressed up, I will pray and seek God’s grace to cope. I will pray for wisdom to handle the situation I am in better so that I may glorify God and serve Him in it, and not cause further harm to my health or worsen my symptoms.

4) I learn to plan and be more organized. I learn to draw up long-term and short-term plan with the reminder that God willing He will enable me. Setting long-term or short-term plans help me to work towards some goals. I used diaries or calendars to help me with these. Once I put these down in writings, I can develop more realistic goals and be more ready to work towards them.

I keep track of appointments in a diary so that I do not missed them especially my mother’s medical appointments and my own.

I also sought to keep my room and my house more organized by categorizing my things and storing them in respective places. Not being able to find some of my things can at times be a great stressor. Being more organized at home helps me to find my things faster and is less stressful.

5) I try to lower my expectation of myself, others and situations. I learn to be contented with lesser things. I learn to forgive myself and others when things don’t work out the way I wished they would. I learn to be kinder to myself and to others when we failed. I learn to look to God and not to self or others because we will always fail and we have many weaknesses. But God is unchangeable.

6) I learn to communicate. I learn to share with others my struggles or difficulties. I learn the value of brain-storming to find solutions to problems. I learn to ask for prayers and counsels whenever necessary.

7) I learn to relax and slow down or take breaks whenever necessary. When I feel tired, I learn to listen to my body and take a rest. I tried to take short breaks in between my tasks. I have a habit of sitting for hours doing my tasks. I am often very engrossed. Wrong posture and lack of rest or breaks can bring about stress unknowingly. I learn to take small breaks to drink or stretch myself.


My Coping Strategies:

1. Looking to God

2. Accepting the diagnosis

3. Medical Helps

4. Balance lifestyle

4a. Exercise

4b. Omega-3 fish oil supplements

5. Research and readings

6. Mood tracking and Journalling

7. Learning to cope with stress and challenges

8. Leisure, hobbies and recreations

9. Support Network (family, church, friends, etc)

10. Counselling / Talk Therapy

11. Correcting faulty thoughts patterns

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