Therapists Spill: How I Cope with Stress
None of us is immune to stress — not even the professionals who help others cope with theirs. In fact, sometimes it’s just as hard for clinicians. “I wish I were [an] expert at dealing with stress management. I find that I’m far better at guiding people to manage their stress than I am at taking my own advice, and managing my own,” said John Duffy, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.
But that’s why it’s so important to have an assortment of tools and techniques at your disposal. This way, when stress strikes, you have an army of options to deal with it healthfully.
Below, Duffy and other clinicians reveal how they reduce and manage their stress.
Before you can deal with stress, you need to recognize that you’re actually stressed out, which isn’t always obvious. “In order for me to de-stress, I need to acknowledge my stress-state in the first place,” Duffy said. For warning signs, he zeroes in on his body. “I have certain tells, like tapping my feet or slipping into a headache.”
Duffy de-stresses by writing, exercising and being with loved ones.
I write to de-stress, and this is highly effective for me. I get lost in that creative process, especially if I can get into the flow of it, and stress is a non-factor.
I can say the same for exercise. When I am running or working out, it is incongruous with stress for me.
Perhaps the best day-to-day stress manager in my life is spending time with my family and friends. And I know that if I’m laughing, I’m good.
I have so many things I do when I’m stressed out. I’m a very sense-oriented person, so my de-stressing toolkit involves cooking, gardening, painting, meditation, yoga, catnapping, taking a walk, listening to music, lingering in the fresh air of an open window, a lavender-scented bath or nursing a cup of chamomile tea.
I have to say that I truly make “time for me” a significant priority, even if it means sitting in my car for just a few minutes during a busy day with the sunroof open, my seat tilted back just right, the radio playing soft jazz while I sip a warm latte. Just don’t bother me should you spot me in the Starbucks parking lot, okay?
Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., a psychotherapist, author and teacher, takes a meditative – and humorous — approach to stress.
When I’m stressed out I like to cook really healthy food. I like to spend time at Whole Foods getting super clean ingredients and then I like to chop vegetables, make sauces, etc., until I have a great tasting, healthy dish to enjoy.
The process is meditative and ideal for me on practical levels as well! Then I take a picture of the dish and post it to Facebook so my friends are jealous.
I also like to take the dog for a long walk so I can sort of zone out while he enjoys his exercise.