When Life Gives You Lemons… 5 Steps to Dealing with Stress

In the past two weeks I’ve faced a myriad of problems both at work and home that would drive anyone to the brink of needing a stiff drink …or three. A major case is quickly spinning out of control, my wife is working at least a shift and a half of overtime while I care for our two teenage daughters and 2 yr old son, a project to replace a leaking toilet seal turned into replacing a 2 square foot section of the bathroom floor, and I just finished digging up a septic tank by hand.

There are times when I would like nothing more than to turn off the phone, lock the door and fill a glass while I wait for things to get better. But, that’s not how life works. Regardless of what happens, I have responsibilities, plus hiding like an ostrich with my head in the sand only makes it seem better for a short time.

StressInstead, try to develop a lifestyle that reduces the stress rather than hiding from the problem.

  1. Accept that you cannot control everything – this is tough thing for type A personalities to hear, but some things are out of your control. Brakes are going to wear out and washing machines are going to break down. While this may still cause temporary stress, it will have less of a lasting effect if you are able to accept it and move one.
  2. Find a hobby – my uncle is a fantastic woodworker and friends often encouraged him to turn it into a profession. He always refused, stating that would make it work and then it would not be fun anymore. Although woodworking may not be your thing, you do need to find a hobby which allows your escape life for a while.
  3. Try to stay organized – as responsibilities and projects build, it is easy to lose track of what needs to be done. Whether you use an application on your smart phone or sticky notes on the wall, keeping track of what needs to be done and when will help reduce your stress level. It is also helpful to prioritize projects as well.
  4. Work will be there tomorrow – few of us can control every aspect of our professional life, especially those serving on active duty. However, that does not mean that we cannot, and should not, take a break once in a while. If you find yourself banking more leave than you will ever need, maybe it is time to take some, even if it is just to sit at home and relax for a day.
  5. Take help where you can get it – whether it is assistance from a co-worker on a large project or from a neighbor on a home improvement project, you do not need to run solo all the time. Sometimes it is just as important to let someone lend a hand as it is to do it yourself.
Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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