Managing Stress in Times of Crisis
In this time of deep pain in the Church, you might experience complex reactions such as confusion, anger, and hurt.
These emotional stressors can impact your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. While no one can eliminate all stress from their environments, you can learn to recognize and cope with them to minimize their impact on daily life. Indeed, the solution may be as simple as changing certain routines and setting a few goals.
What, then, is the healthiest way to cope with emotional stress?
First, slow yourself down. Practice bringing yourself into the present moment versus focusing on the past or future. Engaging in deep breathing may assist with this process.
Second, try to reflect on your feelings without judgment. Such awareness can help you respond to stressors with greater clarity and prevent you from being swept away by toxic thoughts.
Practice acceptance. Accepting the reality of a situation does not mean you approve of it.
Rather, acceptance allows you to shift focus from what is going wrong to how to respond.
Throughout this process, prayer can play a crucial part. As Father David Songy has written, “Taking sufficient time to rest and pray is essential … as modeled by Jesus Christ.”
In every Gospel, we read of Jesus leaving His disciples in order to pray. The disciples knew Jesus regularly took this time in order to find the strength to do His Father’s will.
Self-care, too, plays a decisive role in stress management. Self-care entails engaging in healthy habits and limiting unhealthy ones. Therefore, manage what you eat, do your best to get adequate sleep and exercise, and allow for opportunities for leisure and solitude.
In addition to teaching them the importance of prayer, Jesus demonstrated to them the importance of solitude and rest by regularly going to a deserted place to be alone.
Relationships are also a key source of support, so it is important to seek out others. Talking with a trusted, objective friend or adviser may help you express your feelings and obtain compassionate and candid feedback.
Finally, focus on what you can control, on your choices, and on what will make you more resilient.
To learn other practical strategies for understanding and coping with stress, Saint Luke Institute recommends the following resources:
- “Managing Stress,” Connections (January 2018) at SLIconnect.org.
- “Resources on Stress, Trauma, and Suicide Risk,” available from the website of the National Institute of Mental Health.