Self-help techniques for stress, WHO


Stress is a natural reaction to difficulties and threats. Moderate stress usually does not cause problems. However, in the case of serious upheavals, people who experience prolonged stress may have problems with mental and physical health.

The good news is that stress can be overcome. Self-help and self-care skills help in most cases. If we are talking about the second, then even following a simple routine can significantly improve the condition: enough sleep, nutritious food, walks, communication, hobbies, etc. But it is also worth mastering the self-help techniques recommended by the World Health Organization. With their help, you can significantly ease your condition in stressful conditions.

At the same time, it is important to remember: if you cannot cope with stressful feelings for a long time, you should seek help from specialists.

The publication was prepared within the framework of the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, which was initiated by the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.

Technique 1. Grounding

Very effective practice that requires very little time. It helps to switch from emotions to actions. Having mastered it, you can cope with anxiety and even panic attacks. Try to shift the focus to what is around you here and now, come back to life:

  • Name several objects you see; what you hear; what you can touch; what to taste or smell.
  • Describe the room around you.
  • Tell us where you are, who is next to you, what you are doing.

Try this technique when you are calm, doing some household chores, or waiting for someone. This practice will make everyday activities more interesting, and it will be much easier for you to use it later in more difficult situations.

Technique 2. Getting off the “hook”

“Hooks” are difficult thoughts and feelings that can sometimes affect us. Blaming others, making harsh judgments about yourself, harboring fears about the future, etc. – these are all of them. How to get rid of such “hooks”?

  • Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Realize that they are distracting you.
  • Try to mentally name them, for example: “I have a difficult thought”, “I feel anger”, “I am returning to unpleasant experiences in the past”, “Now I am afraid for the future”, etc.
  • Bring your attention to what you are doing now and use grounding techniques.

Technique 3. We act according to our values

Values ​​tell us what kind of people we want to be, how we treat ourselves and others, and how we strive to achieve our goals. Now, many goals may seem unattainable, but it is within our power to continue living according to our values. Why is this important? Because actions flow from values: what we can do and say every day. It is important to pay attention to actions, because this is your way of influencing the world around you. For example, you cannot influence the fact that there is a war in the country, but you can stop fighting with people from your community.

  • Choose the great values ​​that are most important to you, for example: “being kind and caring”, “helping others”.
  • Then choose one small action that you can take based on these values.
  • Make a plan of simple actions that you can implement tomorrow or next week. what will you do What do you say? Even the smallest actions are important! If your plan seems complicated, try simplifying it. It must be real.

For example, you chose “to be more attentive/attentive to your child”, in your power to allocate 10 minutes, but every day, to read or draw together.

Remember, there are three ways to respond to any difficult situation:

  1. Get away from her.
  2. Change what can be changed; accept the pain of what cannot be changed and live according to your values.
  3. Surrender and give up values.

Technique 4. We show kindness

In any situation, it is important to be kind first of all to yourself. It gives more energy to help yourself and others. Bad thoughts about yourself can appear during difficult times – it’s normal, but you can’t let them traumatize you. So it is important to identify such thoughts and name them.

  1. Try to choose a bad opinion about yourself. For example, “I can’t do anything”, “I’m a failure”.
  2. Identify what it is. For example, “this is a bad opinion” or “this is a harsh judgment about me.”
  3. Then say mentally: “I pay attention to a bad thought” or “I pay attention to a harsh judgment.”
  4. Apply the grounding technique. This will help you get out of the flow of emotions and return to the awareness of your “now”.
  5. Try to also talk to yourself in a kind way: “It’s hard, but I’m holding on,” “I can still take care of myself and others.” Remember how much easier it is to overcome difficulties when someone supports you and shows kindness. Why not become such a person for yourself?

Technique 5. We create space

Sometimes it is impossible to drive away difficult thoughts and feelings. In this case, try to create space for them. In order to master this technique, imagine that feelings and thoughts are like the weather, and you are like the sky for it. No matter how harsh the weather, the sky always has room for it, and the weather will never cause pain or harm to the sky. Sooner or later, the weather always changes. Our feelings change too, so we can learn to be the sky for the “bad weather” of our thoughts and not get traumatized by them.

  1. Pay attention to a difficult thought or feeling and observe it with curiosity. Focus on them. Imagine that your painful sensations are some object (think about its size, shape, color and temperature (for example, a cold, heavy brown brick).
  2. Identify and name this thought or feeling.
  3. Allow the feeling or thought to come and go as the weather dictates. Breathe and imagine the air entering your pain, enveloping it, creating space for it.
  4. Instead of fighting a thought or feeling, let it just be and pass through you like the weather changing in the sky. If you don’t struggle with the weather, you’ll have more time and energy to engage with the world around you and the things that matter to you.

Try practicing these techniques for a few minutes each day. Using them will help you cope with stress and take care of yourself. Read more about each of the techniques in the WHO illustrated guide “Important skills in times of stress”.

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