As I looked back over what I have been saying and doing this week (as well as trying to take on board what others have been saying to me) I realised that it was time to do another article on handling stress. Life as part of RAAF Base Wagga is inherently stressful, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you are a recruit, trainee or staff member or contractor – even chaplains are not immune! The fact is, those stressors are not going to go away, each of us just has to learn how to manage them better! None of these strategies are particularly new or innovative, however I still needed to hear it so maybe you do too!
1. Recognise imbalance! Being prepared to admit that you are feeling stressed is essential to finding the cause and implementing some strategies. I can’t be helped till I am big enough to admit I have a problem!
2. Slow down! If stress is starting to get at you, make a conscious effort to stop and take a few deep breaths. Taking a short time out may help you to discern if the “urgent” stuff is really “important”.
3. Be proactive! Refuse the inclination to procrastinate and then worry about all that you haven’t done. As they say, Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
4. Delegate! Nobody expects you to do it all, and because my colleague is away this week I am not “forced” to do two people’s work, I just have to choose what does not get done, and allow somebody else to do things that may not be my job anyway.
5. Focus! Do one thing at a time and finish it before you go on to the next. Don’t allow yourself to get side-tracked by only half doing a lot of things – that will only increase your stress levels.
6. Listen! When I get stressed I tend to be so busy that I forget to listen to those around me or even to listen to myself. If you have recognised that things are out of control, it is important to choose somebody you trust to give you some feedback. I also make time to do some journaling to help me to listen to my self talk.
7. Rebalance! Plan in some re-creation time to restore the real you. That might mean going for a run or to the gym or spending some time in the workshop. You cannot work ALL the time, but sadly some people even in their free time keep thinking about work. DO something that gets you out of that cycle.
8. Laugh! Don’t take yourself or your situation so seriously! Look for the funny side of things, choose to be around upbeat, positive people.
9. Be realistic! You cannot change yourself or your situation overnight, but you can choose to re-frame how you see yourself and your situation. When stressed we focus on the negatives, but in reality there are usually lots of positives that we just haven’t noticed.
10. Pray! There are times when I have done all the above and still feel down. That is when I know I have to pray. God cares about us and wants to help us but my experience is that He doesn’t just interfere, He waits for us to ask, and sometimes it is my pride that gets in the way.
That should be more than enough to work on, I’m feeling less stressed already, what about you?
Chaplain Ian S Whitley