by Kristy Como Armand
It would be difficult to find anyone who didn’t feel the past two years have been uniquely stressful, particularly in Southwest Louisiana, where we have faced not only the pandemic, but a series of natural disasters. Many residents have been in high stress situations dealing with the aftermath of storm damage for over a year.
“Stress is part of life and there are no magic buttons to eliminate it,” says Keri Forbess-McCorquodale, MS, CEAP, LPC-S, LMFT, President of Solutions Counseling & EAP. “But there are things you can do to stay motivated during stressful times. Taking control of your reaction to stress is the first step toward managing it.” She offers the following suggestions to better manage high stress situations:
Identify the Type of Stress
“Categorizing the kind of stress you’re experiencing can help you lessen your chance of becoming overwhelmed,” says Forbess-McCorquodale. “When stress becomes overwhelming, anxiety can take over and possibly compromise your decision making.” She explains the different types of stress:
Time Stress – When you worry about time or a lack of time. For example, a report is due and you know you can’t complete it in time.
Anticipatory Stress – When you’re stressed about something that’s coming up. For example, watching the weather channel predictions days before a hurricane makes landfall.
Situational Stress – When you feel as though you are not in control. For example, having a loved one go through something traumatic.
Encounter Stress – When you have uncomfortable interactions. For example, encountering a reckless driver which causes road rage.
Use your Support Circle
“Whenever you ﬁnd yourself in very stressful situations, reaching out for any kind of help is beneficial,” says Forbess-McCorquodale. “We all saw how our community came together after the hurricanes of 2020 to get our community functional again. That kind of support helps to alleviate stress. It’s helpful to reach out to those you trust to help you with whatever it is you may be facing. You never know who might have the answer you’ve been looking for.”
Track your Progress
It’s common to become focused only on the end goal or outcome when facing major stress. Forbess-McCorquodale says falling into this type of “all or nothing” thinking can be dangerous because you don’t give yourself any credit for the progress and success you’ve made along the way. “This can quickly lead to burnout. By tracking your progress, you can set intermittent goals and celebrate completing each one. You’ll feel the stress leaving your body as you are meet each goal.”
“I know this is easier said than done,” says Forbess-McCorquodale, “but it’s important to be honest with yourself. When something else is asked of you, take a moment before responding. If helping is just not feasible then it’s okay to tell someone no, you can’t help them out at this time. Saying no isn’t selﬁsh, it means you’re honoring yourself and your commitments.”
Practice the Big Three
There’s a reason eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep always appear on prevention lists. “These three habits are the cornerstone to a happy, healthy life and their impact on stress is no different,” says Forbess-McCorquodale.
If you need help to better manage the stress in your life, call Solutions Counseling & EAP at (337) 310-2822 to schedule an appointment.