Prayer For Stressful Situations
How To Manage Most Stressful Situations To Find Peace
June 11, 2016 by Patricia Weber
How To Manage Most Stressful Situations To Find Peace
On a previous post, I mentioned a time when my 88-year-old mother was in an ambulance on the way to the emergency room from long-term care.
Where is the joy in that?
In an inconceivable situation this, I’ve found that to stay in the moment or be totally present is possible even if you cannot find joy. Pausing when I took the call, for just 8 seconds to breathe deeply in and out, (by the way not even noticed by the nurse) I was able to speak calmly and ask questions about her condition.
Peace in the moment is all I wanted, not necessarily joy.
My online blogger friend Phoenicia commented, “That would probably be the last thing most people would do at that moment.”
Being joyful always is humanly not possible with every situation of each day. Depending what a person might do in a similar situation in 8 seconds of breathing, can either help ease stress if there is any – or increase any negative emotions.
Certainly not every day is as stressful as another. Nor is any one day as predictable to the level of joy. But when it isn’t easy to find joy, I often at least want to find peace.
What did I do during those 8 seconds?
CC BY-ND by Helga Weber
I prayed for God to give me calm. And there calm was.
My current goal as a Christian is to pray continuously. For me, this is to talk with God in some way with every significant move I make.For example, as I opened my Word program to write this blog, I stopped to pray that my mind be ready to express how prayer helps me, in a way that would please God.
When I pull up to a gas station to fuel my car, I thank God both for my lovely, reliable car and the low prices of gas.
In my email box, there arrived ten easy prayer reminders. The post has excellent ideas that are triggers for prayer. After my daily morning routine I usually make coffee for my husband and I. Now I stop and ask God that he would fill me up with what I need for the day.
Every day I do my best to add a new prompt because this is my heart’s desire.
Prayers can be in songs
Maybe you don’t want to be tied to a particular prayer? While I enjoy knowing what the Bible says you can find prayers everywhere!
A few years ago I left my go-to-church to seek out a new one. In visiting 27 different churches in traveling distance I found at all, there is singing of praise and prayer. There is one church in town where singing is only acapella!
Eventually, I settled on a church to become a regular attendee.
Some of what I next want to relate to you is uncomfortable for me, being more open than usual about some of my personal history. If just one of you reading can benefit as you might be going through a tough time in any way, then it will be worth it.
For one full year, my praying and seeking God intensified because of two situations in our family. False accusations escalated to legal authorities which could have destroyed peoples’ lives.
I know I prayed three or more times a day on bended knees. Every hour seemed an eternity and sometimes I’d run out to a Catholic church, my childhood upbringing, to feel even closer to God.
Each situation seemed to feel intolerable to the degree of me praying more than I can ever remember.
Even with a counselor to talk with once a week, for half of that year, stress was unbearable at times.When my husband had open surgery at a young age of 40, I learned that music, in general, is proven to be healing.
Each day I found a little more peace in both prayer and music. Both traditional and contemporary Christian music became the station quickly to turn to on my radio and all devices.
Some on had the lyrics to read along on days on my computer.
Prayers can be in words
Because alcoholism is in my family, when I was in my 30s I found AlAnon https://www.al-anon.org in my hometown. It was there I learned the Serenity Prayer. In the days as I actively worked that program, I would start the day with it:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
You don’t have to have a religious identification to pray. There were often agnostics and atheists in the groups I attended.
While even some atheists are known to pray, their brain doesn’t necessarily experience things the same way. They are however having a conversation with someone, though not God, they visualize.
Praying can also combine with other modes of seeking peace.
In Christianity as in Buddhism, prayer and meditation are often completed together. Either process starts with communication with God followed by quieting of the mind and body. The method is called the Centering Prayer in Christianity and has influence from Buddhism.
There is even an app for the Centering Prayer! Yes; I have it, and I use it often.
In this and the previous blog post, we covered always be joyful and pray continuously as a way to:
For me regardless of the size of the challenge, or in following my personal desire to continue to grow in my relationship with God, these days I find myself doing what the 1 Thessalonians 5:17 verse says: Never stop praying.
Next related post will center on gratitude as a means of having more daily peace.
Do you combine prayer with meditation?
10 Tricks Successful People Use to Stay Calm in Stressful Situations
Last Updated on June 18, 2019
No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.
Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.
Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”
A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.
In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.
From Making Reminders to Building Habits
A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.
For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.
This is a good thing because if you’re anything me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.
The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.
Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!
The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.
Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.
But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?
The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.
The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders
A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.
For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get your house.
But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)
Scroll down to continue reading article If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.
For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself) can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.
These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.
For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.
How to Make a Reminder Works for You
Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.
Desktop software Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.
Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit.
Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.
My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.
Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.
I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do Sandy quite a bit.
More About Habits
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
Coping With Stressful Situations
Sometimes a stressful situation just lasts a moment — getting through a school play audition or making the foul shot that could win the game.
But life also can bring situations that might keep us stressed for a few days, weeks, or months. Even if we're not always thinking about this stress, it can be a background soundtrack playing in our lives.
If you're most people, you've faced these kinds of lasting stressful situations. Feeling unprepared or unhappy about the situation increases the stress. Stressful situations can wear us down over time. Finding ways to deal with them can help us grow strong.
Build Good Coping Skills
How well — or how poorly — we get through a stressful situation depends a lot on us. How we deal with stressful situations makes all the difference.
Here are some steps you can take to cope with a stressful situation.
1. Understand the Situation
- Take some time to think about the situation you're facing. Try to describe your situation in a sentence or two. What's stressful about this situation for you right now? It can help to write down your thoughts. For example: My family just moved, so I switched to a new school in the middle of the year. The stressful parts are not knowing anyone, missing my old friends, and dealing with all new schoolwork.
- Notice and name the feelings you have about the situation. Accept your feelings — it's understandable to feel the way you feel, given your situation. It can help to write down your feelings, too. For example: I feel lonely and sad because of missing old friends and my old school. I'm mad that we had to move, especially now. I'm worried about keeping up in math and social studies. I feel left out because I'm the new kid. I guess anyone would feel this way if they were in my situation.
- Learn more. Learn all you can about the situation you're dealing with. This might include reading about it, talking to others, or finding out what others in your situation have done and what to expect. Learning helps you feel more confident and prepared — plus it reminds you that you're not the only one who has gone through this.
2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
A positive attitude helps stop you from being dragged down by unhappy feelings. A positive attitude also boosts the problem solving that a stressful situation requires.
A positive attitude helps us see the possibilities within a situation, while negative thinking narrows our view.
- Don't dwell on the negative. Don't get stuck dwelling on negative feelings — or focusing on the bad aspects of your situation for too long. Your power lies in how you react to — and cope with — the situation you're facing. Be aware of any negative thoughts ( “I can't do this”), and replace them with more encouraging words. This is the time to believe in yourself. For example: Others have switched schools before and come through it. I know I can manage this.
- Notice and appreciate life's good stuff. Be sure to notice some positive things in your life, too. Yes, even now. Each day, think of three things you're grateful for. Gratitude helps fuel a positive attitude and keeps problems — even the big ones — in perspective.
3. Take Action
- Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. Think of actions you can take to improve any part of your stressful situation. For example: I can talk to the guy who sits next to me in social studies class. I'll ask if he'll share notes and study with me. That could help me make a new friend — plus catch up in social studies.
- Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. Ask for help or advice. Be with people who believe in you, make you laugh, and help you feel good about yourself. Sometimes just a listening ear helps a lot. It helps you know that someone understands and cares about what you're going through.
- Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high. Be sure to eat nutritious foods and minimize junk food. Get daily exercise and sleep. Do something every day that helps you relax — whether it's yoga, a soothing bath, cooking, playing with your pet, taking a walk, listening to music, or playing your guitar.
Stressful situations can test our strength, for sure. Whatever you're facing, it can help to think through the situation, accept the emotions you feel, and keep a positive attitude.
Focus your efforts on what you can influence, get support, and care for yourself.
All these things can help you cope with your situation, lessen the stress, and help you come through feeling strong and confident.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2016
10 Common Stressful Situations & How to Deal With Them
Stress is inevitable, but you must understand that stress is essential for survival. The “fight-or-flight” mechanism built into you, allows you to respond appropriately to danger.
It’s all part of a chemical reaction that occurs in the brain.
The problem is when there are too many stressors at one time or the body is constantly in an anxious state, it causes both physical and mental health problems.
Americans Are Stressed Out
In 2015, the American Psychological Association did a study on stress. On a scale of 1 to 10, they found that Americans are about a 5 when it comes to being stressed out. That number is significant because that means almost half of the population is in a constant state of stress.
This is, no doubt, why the use of antidepressants is up over 400% in the past two decades. Stress can kill. So, here are 10 of the most common stressful situations and how you can cope with the pressure that comes with them.
1. Death in the Family
There is nothing worse than losing your loved one. This is an emotionally devastating experience. Never suppress your feelings. You must learn to express your emotions appropriately. Avoiding your feelings can prolong the grieving process. You may feel anger and injustice or even question the meaning of life.
These things are normal. Mental Health America suggests that you don’t judge yourself or how you feel. Rather, you should surround yourself with people who are in the same situation or who has been through something this. Find someone to talk to that you can be open and honest with. Most of all, find creative outlets to occupy your time.
2. Losing Your Job
Losing your job may cause panic. If you have no savings or 401k to fall back on, then you may really be at a loss. This significant rejection can lead to depression, so it’s important that you process the loss and move on. You must find another way to make money.
According to Erica Cirino from Health Line, the longer you are unemployed the more psychological unease you will have. Just with a death, you will ly experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Start pounding the pavement looking for another job. You may want to consider career changes or going back to school too. Also, don’t be afraid to take a lesser paying gig until you find the one you want.
Some money is better than no money.
Moving is chaotic and a big cause for stress. Whether you lost your home or your job transfers you doesn’t matter. Relocating from one place to another brings about major challenges. The fact that you may be in a new house or city can be overwhelming.
If it is moving to a new town that bothers you, Dianne Schmidt from The Spruce suggests you make a list of all the exciting things to do in the city. Find something to look forward to after the dust from the move has settled.
4. Having Difficult Conversations
Confrontation is never fun nor is it easy. But remember honesty is always the best. Don’t beat around the bush, just put all your cards on the table. Ryan Howes Ph.D., from Psychology Today, suggests that you stick to the point, and you must back it up with evidence. If you are in the right, then you should take comfort in that.
Things may be messy for a while, but getting something that is eating you off your chest is better than letting it affect your health.
5. Being The Victim Of A Crime
Being the victim of a crime causes both physical and psychological trauma. You may have cuts, bruises, or broken arms and legs, but the real pain is internal. The outer damages will heal, but the mental pain will last a while. To get through this discomfort, take care of yourself. If you need to sleep, let yourself sleep.
Victims of Crime suggests you join a support group and find comfort in others. Re-establish your normal routine as soon as possible. If you recognize signs of PTSD or other mental disorders after the incident, get professional help.
6. Dealing With a Serious Illness or Injury
While the physical repercussions of the injury are usually apparent, the psychological ones are not so easy to spot. You may feel isolated, have the fear of re-injury, and deal with a low self of esteem. Find a way to stay connected with the sport while you heal. Even if you just become a spectator, it’s still giving you something to look forward to.
Talk to someone. The fear and loss you have experienced is great. Dealing with a new reality often takes some professional assistance.
When you say, “I Do,” you think it will be forever. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 2,400 divorces every day in America. Remember, the only thing worse than being single is being married to the wrong one.
Find some friends that are also single. Support groups are a good outlet, and you need to get back out in the dating world too. You can go out as friends, you don’t have to make it serious. The companionship is what you will miss most.Don’t isolate yourself and allow the feelings of anguish take over. Force yourself to get the house and keep going.
If you’re going through a recent divorce, this video from lifestyle blogger Lavenda gives some great insights into the five stages of divorce and how to cope.
8. Having a Child
There is nothing more beautiful than a baby. The birth of a child is a magnificent event. However, it is one that is also filled with great stress. The household will be torn upside down, and you probably won’t get much sleep for a while. The biggest thing with a new child is asking for help when you feel overwhelmed.
You should rest when the child is resting. Ask others to step in and help out when they can. Baby support groups online can help with tips and tricks for dealing with newborn stress. If you can afford it, hire someone to help a few days a week. It will make you and baby happier to focus on feedings and sleep.
Since 90% of couples say their marriage declined after the birth of a child, make sure to nurture that relationship too.
9. Having Financial Difficulties
Seeing a zero balance in the check book is horrifying. When your paychecks get cut, you need to make up the money some other way. Try getting a part time job, even a paper route could help out. Sell some things on eBay and other online outlets.
If your home is in foreclosure, there are numerous programs out there that can help. Talk to your mortgage lender about doing a loan modification. It may save your home. If the process is too far along, then focus on finding a new place to dwell. Financial problems are not fun no matter what the cause.
Being faced with financial losses can be unbearable. There are many community organizations that can help you. Job and Family Services and Community Action are places that can help with the first month’s rent and deposit. If your income has taken a hit and you lost your home, seek resources in your community.
10. Legal Issues
Being arrested, accused of a crime or going to jail is a cause of stress. You can always get free counsel no matter what the crime. The court is required to give you representation, without cost, if you are indigent. In these situations, it’s best, to be honest with everyone, including yourself.
If your legal difficulties were caused by a substance abuse problem, there are also many programs, including some court appointed ones, that can help you conquer this addiction.
Being Proactive With Stress
No matter what life throws at you, it is better to have a plan rather than to let the anxiety and fear control your life.
Try to find solutions to the problems rather than fretting and worrying about the outcomes.
Did you know that many of the things that you fear won’t even happen? Your body and mind don’t need any extra stress. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow. Learn to live in the moment.
8 Ways to Handle Highly Stressful Situations
“Sometimes when people are under stress, they hate to think, and it’s the time when they most need to think.” – William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
Truly, there is only one guarantee in this lifetime, and that is there are no guarantees. From the time that you wake up to the time your bed hits the pillow at night, any number of difficult and stressful situations can occur. At the risk of sounding cliché, it is how you respond to these situations that makes all the difference.
It can be difficult to remember the importance of our response when the drastic happens; you’re laid off, the car breaks down, money is tight (sometimes really tight), your job is stressful…any number of these things can happen to any of us. Let us remember to respond quickly and rationally if we should encounter any of these situations.
1. Remember that nothing (and no one) can “make” you feel anything
Your reaction to the situation is just that…your reaction. How you feel about and ultimately deal with a situation is your choice. There is no way to control the actions of others, but you can control how you respond.
One important aspect of this is to understand when a situation is uncontrollable, such as a bad economy, sickness, or something else. When the uncontrollable happens, we must accept it as is.
There is a big difference, however, between accepting the situation and giving up. Acceptance is important, but so is coping effectively. In choosing to be effective in how we react, we significantly reduce stress.
Remember this and utilize some of the pointers that follow.
2. Replace attitude with gratitude
The attitude that we have towards stressful situations has a definitive effect – positive or negative. A negative attitude is often the automatic, default mechanism that can have an adverse effect on our mental, physical and even spiritual wellbeing.
Instead, consciously attempt to replace this negative, default reaction with gratitude. For example, when you find yourself backed up in traffic, change your perspective.
Think about things to be appreciative for – family, friends, work, health, faith, or something else. Look around for things in nature to admire and appreciate – trees, sunshine, or a pleasant view.
When you make a conscious attempt to place gratitude ahead of negativity, you’ll find your attitude changing.
In the midst of a busy, hectic, stressful day, it is very easy to forget about taking care of your emotional and physical wellbeing. When your boss is acting a dictator or you are late on a project, it’s very tempting to allow this negativity to take over your day.
Instead, try to use the down time at work to relax and rejuvenate. When you have a break, take a few minutes to step away from everything and let go. Do some breathing exercises, read, or send a quick text to a loved one.Spend your lunch time doing something enjoyable and forget about the negative that happened before. Remember, relaxation doesn’t require a significant amount of time.
It’s what you do with this time that ultimately makes the big difference in your mindset.
4. See the big picture
When you are running late, forget something, or something else unexpected happens, it is ly to be of little consequence. However, your “fight or flight” response hardwired into your brain will release stress hormones that makes this event seem much more significant than it actually is.
Remember to evaluate the stressful situation from an overall, rational perspective. Ask yourself “Will this situation really matter in the long-term?” or “How important is this to my life? Is it really more important than my mental and physical wellbeing?” Most times, the answer will be no. If this is the case, simply move on and adjust accordingly. It’s not worth your time and energy.
5. Learn some “stress stoppers.”
As mentioned, encountering stressful situations has a big effect on your mind and body. The American Heart Association recommends these “stress stoppers” for different situations.
– Count to 10 before you speak.
– Take three to five deep breaths.
– Walk away from the stressful situation, and handle it later.
– Go for a walk.
– Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” if you made a mistake.
– Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late.
– Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter of phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at one time.
– Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving.
– Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor.
– Consider meditation or prayer to break a negative cycle.
6. Positive self-talk
We all talk to ourselves throughout the day. Most of this talk is internal and will vary in accordance with the situation encountered. The default reaction when we encounter a difficult situation, task, or event sometimes leads to negative self-talk. This negative self-talk only serves to increase stress and makes resolution of the problem more difficult.
Instead, practice using positive self-talk to calm down and control stress. Here are some examples:
“I can’t do this…” becomes “I’ll do the best I can.”
“I hate it when this happens…” becomes “I can easily handle this; I just need to think…”
“Nothing is going right today…” becomes “I’ll just take it step-by-step…”
The important thing to remember is to practice this transition. You can ly expect some internal resistance to a change in mindset, but you will see a positive change if you persevere.
7. Take one step at a time
When I was in graduate school studying for my Master’s degree, I was often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work to be done. When one research paper was complete, there was another one right around the corner. Then an exam…then a group project…and so on. But the focus was not on the next paper or exam; it was on finishing and just being done with it all.
It was a tremendously stressful time, and an advisor offered some advice: “Remember this corny adage: ‘How does a marathon runner finish a race? One mile at a time.’” Marathon runners are in tremendous shape, practice year-round, and have tremendous self-discipline. Even so, a marathon runner can experience excruciating pains and difficulties in finishing a 26-mile race.
Sometimes we need a small shift in mindset. Too often, when faced with a difficult task we jump to the finish instead of facing one obstacle at a time. It’s much easier to narrow our focus, complete one task, and then tackle the next one.
8. Ask for help
With all of the tips, hints, and advice about dealing with stressful situations, this one may be the most important. Depending on the scale and longevity of the stress encountered, it may become necessary to ask for help.
It is important to understand that there is no shame in asking for help. Please don’t allow pride, discouragement, or stubbornness to dissuade you from seeking assistance, of whatever kind, when it’s needed. There are people who love and care for you unconditionally, and are there for you no matter the situation.
Your friends and loved ones don’t care what the problem is or its magnitude; all they care about is helping you to see it through. Sometimes, we need to allow the good people in our life show how much they care for us.
Join the discussion: How do you handle highly stressful situations? Add your favorite tips and advice in the comments below!
Round Table: Handling Stressful Moments Without Prayer
Today’s round table discussion is a question for parents who don’t subscribe to a specific religion. How do you handle those moments when you feel helpless or frustrated as a parent, and the stress piles up to the point you feel as if you are going to snap?
It seems that often the reply parents seeking help get is to pray: trust in God, give over your troubles to God, etc. As non-theistic parents, handing over our troubles to an invisible friend isn’t a helpful suggestion. So, we asked our writers to tell us what they do in those pot-boiling-over moments. Please share your favorite techniques in the comments.
Well one thing I always try to do is prevent myself from getting stressed.. As in, I always ask myself if something is worth freaking out over. A lot of stress is stuff parents create for themselves, I find. So, stage one is prevention. But if stress happens I just walk away for a bit if I can, make myself some hot chocolate or something that and wait for bedtime. Oh, glorious bedtime!
The short answer is I put myself in time out. I am not particularly good at staying calm and no amount of “take a deep breath and count to 10” seems to help me (probably because that would require remembering to do it when I’m feeling so overwhelmed that I can barely remember my own name, let alone a cliche of a calming technique).
What I have learned to do over the years to do for everyone collective well-being is to disengage and remove myself. I don’t always catch myself before I yell, but I am usually able to get past that initial boil-over, apologize, make sure everyone is physically safe, and take five minutes to step away and get myself under control.
If only we could apply the one minute per year of age guideline to parents too. That would equal a decent nap!
Walk away. Unless there’s an imminent threat of real harm to person or property, I try to step away and get some space. My son is a soft-hearted guy, and the simple act of me stepping away in frustration is often more than enough.
Now that all said: I readily admit it’s not as easy as it sounds; the impetus to win, to control, to be right and maintain status is terrifyingly strong. I’ve certainly had moments when I didn’t walk away, and I really, really wish I had. Then it’s time to adult-up and apologize.
I’ve made mistakes as a parent, but being accountable is one of the best (and hardest) things I can demonstrate for my kids.
I try to convert frustration to fun and confusion to cheer. This is something that I learned recently from my significant other. If you can change a tense moment to a silly one, it’s worth a shot. If it’s really not possible, I try some empathy or what Brene Brown calls perspective taking.
If I can try to understand where they are coming from or why they are being challenging, I can generally respond in a calm and more understanding way. Even if their reality isn’t my reality, it’s still real for them. Lastly, I try to prevent these moments as much as possible.
Usually tantrums and outbursts are caused by something that can be controlled.
Does someone need a Snickers? Is someone left out? Did someone not get a nap? Are we in a really difficult place for them to manage (the mall on a Saturday?)? If I can foresee these things potentially happening and address their needs before a meltdown, I spend less time muttering “for the love of all that is holy will you please shut up!” under my breath.
I don’t have a good answer to this question because there are so many moments daily where I feel everything goes spectacularly wrong at once and I don’t alway deal with them well. For now, avoiding them is my best tool. Scheduling around naps and food helps.
Rehearsing the day by talking (or singing) about what my toddlers can expect, or making a social story if it’s a bigger event ( moving to a new house, going on vacation, visiting the dentist).
A bag of meltdown tools, a toddler carrier, bottle, and small toys comes with us almost everywhere, and is a huge help.
But, in those moments when everything is going to pot, I stop talking. Nothing I say is going to help, and being quiet means not adding to the volume and chaos. I take a deep breath, and sometimes just taking that moment is enough to let me express myself gently.
Other times I still speak crossly (which I later regret), or walk away to have a longer time alone. The kids use “calm down moments” or “take a break” when they are overwhelmed, so I use those phrases when I explain to them that I need to walk away for a bit.
I’m still looking for more (and better) ways to handle these stressful moments.
I’ve cycled through several coping methods over the last decade for when wrangling The Hellions has pushed me right past Wit’s End and started barreling towards Breaking Point. When I was new to the job I had a tendency to lash out, yell and stomp and gnash my teeth, hoping to scare sanity back into the universe.
I think we can all figure out how well that worked. Now I have two contrasting methods. One is to take myself the equation. My kids are old enough to handle most non-life threatening situations on their own. Unless something is on fire I step away from the conflict and give myself some space to cool off.
Count to ten, take a bathroom break, head to the backyard and make some putts at the disc golf basket. The truth of the matter is that most kid centered conflicts will work themselves out in 10-20 minutes all on their own.It takes energy to be upset over the little things that most kids squabble about, energy that will sputter out after a few moments.
When benevolent neglect is neither working nor wise, for situations that absolutely require my intervention, I make a concerted effort to make myself small, get down on their level and talk to them calmly and respectfully. I’ve found that meeting children closer to their own height, joining them in their world so to speak, but treating them as an equal at the same time, goes a long way towards getting them to listen.