MARILYN HAGERTY: Colorful lights, Christmas music... and stressA UND psychologist offers some times on taking the edge off stress. One tip: Set realistic goals.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
She gave me an Andes mint.
Then Stephanie Freed asked me to slowly chip off a small corner at a time and eat each one slowly. I was to savor each minute corner.
The idea, I guess, is that you can savor small bites of a Christmas cookie. And you don’t need two or three at a time.
In this jolly season, there is a tendency to overdo — get stressed out. And I asked Freed, a psychology resident at UND, if she would talk to me about stress.
After our visit in the Memorial Union, I went away with some new perspectives. In the first place, stress is not really good or bad. It is not negative.
Freed says, “Just relax.”
The point, she said, is not to avoid stress. Just be mindful of it and do one thing at a time. Expectations that are too high just lead to trouble. And this leads to disappointment and distress, she said.
New Year resolutions soon to be swirling around us should be something you can control, Freed told me. Not what other people expect.
“If you say you are going to work out every day, your expectations may be unrealistic. Your goal should be something you can control.” She suggests making goals small but accomplishable.
Anxiety depends on how you see things, she said. And it’s hard here in the Midwest because being passive tends to send a mixed message.
She talked of relieving stress by being realistic. People don’t tend to communicate expectations. But there is more than one way to solve an issue. Asking for help is one thing people find hard. It’s well to give others the benefit of doubt.
Don’t stress out; ask others for what you need. You need to do some self care.
She reminded me that we are not in the past or the future. We are living in the right now. When things get too stressful, you can give yourself a “time out.”
Freed gave me a list of the top ten strategies for wildly effective stress management. The ones that stick in my mind are:
• Reward yourself by planning leisure activities. It helps to be looking forward to something.
• Remember a 20-minute walk has been proven a better tranquilizer than some prescription drugs.
• Look for the humor in life when things don’t make sense.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or (701) 772-1055.