Last month’s blog post (see below) began the process of exploring what you can do to help cope with the stressful times we’re living in right now. This process is based on the mnemonic of RELIEF.
The first three letters of RELIEF are explained in last month’s post. Today we’re going to look at the remainder of the process.
The I in RELIEF stands for IDENTIFY YOUR FEELINGS. This may sound like an odd step to take, but it is often the one that is the difference between coping well or not coping. And you can’t perform well at work if you’re feelings are left unexplored. Anger, for instance, can come out at the wrong time and to the wrong person if you suppress it.
One of the best ways to identify your feelings is to write for a few minutes daily about how you feel. This can be in a journal or on your phone or computer. No one else needs to see this so you can feel free to really express yourself. You might want to use this as a starting point to talk to friends or family about your feelings. Be sure you select someone who you think is a safe person to talk to about how you’re feeling so that you get supportive feedback.
The E in RELIEF is about Eating Well. The advice I give clients for eating in times of stress is the same as eating every day. Here are the guidelines:
Eat four or five small meals a day.
Do not exceed four hours without eating.
Aim for two-thirds carbohydrates and one-third protein every time you eat. Make sure each time you eat you get at least ten grams of protein.
To distinguish protein from carbohydrates remember this: Carbs grow out of ground and protein walks on the ground or swims in the water (the exception are nuts, seeds, and beans, which are all great sources of protein.)
Drink at least half your body weight in water or decaffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids each day.
Finally, the F in RELIEF stands for FOCUS ON FUN. This is the easy one. Don’t let yourself get caught up in working longer than you have to because you feel guilty if you don’t. During a crisis time, it’s good to step away and think of pleasant things for some of each day. Otherwise, you may not be able to think objectively. You may also open yourself up to getting sick or having an accident because you’re overtired. Find ways to have fun every day, even just for five minutes. Take a walk in nature, go for a swim, play with your kids or pet. Find ways to remember that crisis is not all that’s in your life.
I hope these ideas will help you find RELIEF in the coming months and years.