Easing the Stress

Ben Larisey

The big “S”… let’s talk about it.

We’ve all experienced it, sometimes in a good way and other times in a not-so-pleasant way.

Think you know? Well, you’re probably right.

I’m talking about STRESS!

Imagine you’re a mom, dad, or any other guardian waking up at 5 a.m., staggering to the kitchen to pour yourself a cup of coffee, and you notice you completely forgot that your child’s school is having an early dismissal day.

You feel jolted by this and mistakenly pour your coffee on the counter instead of the cup.

You clean it up, sigh, and attempt to regather yourself and feel successful, albeit momentarily, for making the second attempt of pouring it into your cup. Then, you take the long walk to your teenager’s room and get yelled at for waking them up late because they “totally reminded you several times you had to wake up early to finish their project!”

Trying to keep it together, you mumble your apologies and focus back on your work schedule and the deadlines you have, all the while trying to figure out who will be able to pick up your child from school or practice.

Is it Friday, yet? Nope, only Wednesday. You may feel defeated, exhausted, or maybe even zoned out.

If this scenario does not fit your normal day, it may remind you of some other time when you felt stressed enough you were tempted to sell your soul for a do-over or even a clone of yourself. This is normal. We live in a very difficult world where stress is a constant. We have several things on our plates that cannot possibly be eaten in one sitting.

Good news, my friends. I am here to help you learn how to clean that plate one bite at a time.

It has been my experience working with those under stress that the more someone tries to do everything at once, they often feel they fail and, therefore, feel less inclined to try again.

My philosophy is always to breathe deeply 5-10 times before taking on one task, and then allowing yourself to feel successful and happy with that success, no matter how small. Then, take another breath before you start your next task.

Breathing is a way to bring you back into the present and to regather yourself before starting something. For instance, you forgot about the early dismissal, but you know hardly anyone is up at 5 a.m., so focus your attention on getting yourself in a good headspace and enjoy your coffee and news before taking on that task.

Similarly, don’t let your teenager’s tantrums lower your self-esteem as a parent — they are typically equally frustrated with themselves. Remind them of their responsibilities and try not to take on their stress.

If you focus on the things you can control and remind yourself you are doing the best you can, then you will be more likely to handle the rest of the day’s challenges.

Ben Larisey is a clinical social worker at Southeast Community Health Systems. He also runs a private practice in the evenings and on weekends, Larisey Mental Health, which provides Individual, Family, Child and Trauma Therapy to those in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. Ben has worked in the field for seven years.

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