Contributor: Jane Ehrman, MEd Health Educator with the Center for Lifestyle Medicine
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Whether you face problems at work, troubles with your loved ones, or issues at school with your children, they all share something in common: stress.
When we are faced with a crisis, no matter whether it’s related to family, health, finances, work or a relationship, it can consume our thoughts, drain our energy, and get us spinning in the stress cycle.
When I’ve gone through a crisis, I’ve noticed that I hold my breath to keep my emotions down, my mind racing with all the worst-case scenarios. I’ll even get the bitter taste of adrenaline in my mouth. This frame of mind makes it difficult to get anything done. And when we feel like this, the decisions we make aren’t usually the best either.
5 tools to help you cope
Next time you find yourself in a crisis, try using some of these five stress relief tools to help you cope better. Practicing these techniques should help you think more clearly.
1. Breathe. Consciously breathing slowly and deeply keeps us present, oxygenates the brain, increases mental clarity and slows thoughts to a functional speed.
2. Make time for quiet, reflective thinking and deeper relaxation. Research shows that you’ll problem solve more creatively, have greater insight into your issues and create a better plan for dealing with them.
3. Stop ruminating. If you tend to rant and rave, take 10 minutes every day to do so. But here are the rules: You only get 10 minutes for this, and when your time is up, move on! There’s also no borrowing on tomorrow’s time. When stress-filled thoughts pop in to your mind, breathe to refocus and move on.
4. Include exercise, sufficient rest and healthy eating in this process. All of these healthy habits affect your energy and ability to successfully work through any crisis.
5. Use mind-body tools. Techniques like breath work, imagery, passive relaxation and autogenic training can help you fall asleep or get back to sleep.