Friday, February 16, 2018

Guidelines for Dealing with Distress


The first formal definition of distress is when a person is in great pain, suffering from anxiety or sorrow, has acute physical or mental suffering, and/or is undergoing an affliction or trouble. Strangely enough, the definition of de-stress only refers to relaxing after everyday types of normal stress. That’s the English language for you.

As a matter of fact, the prefix ‘di’ and ‘dis’ as in the word distress should mean ‘not’ according to the usual rule. Also, distress comes from the Middle English word destresse and the Anglo French word distresse, destresse which look like de-stress.  Meanwhile, the prefix ‘de’ means down from or away from so that de-stress does actually mean away from stress. This analogy just goes to show how confusing language can be and yet words can have an effect on our well-being, so it’s good to think about these things.

By distress, I am mostly referring to episodes of pain, nausea, headache, migraine, strained muscles, cramps, tearfulness, bout of depression, sore eyes, feeling overwhelmed, and other such negative emotions and feelings. As humans in a messed up modern world that is changing faster and faster, we are apt to feel distress from time to time. We make mistakes, forget things and are pushed and pulled in every direction which is sometimes beyond our capacity to deal with immediately.

By de-stress, I mean taking steps to deal with distress.

1. The first step when in distress is to take time out. This is possibly best done in bed at home. But any place will do if it is quiet, calm, and on the dark side, where you can relax, be comfortable, and undisturbed. Turn off the TV and as many electronic gadgets as possible.

 2. Re-hydrate because stress is dehydrating. Drink cool water. It is probably best not to eat anything until you feel a bit better unless you feel that eating something will help. Avoid dehydrating food and drinks such as sugary and starchy food, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks.

 3. When you feel up to it, as you will because all things must pass, make a list of the things that you believe led to the distress attack. Then review it to see if there are any changes you need to make for the future. Making a list will also help just to learn what caused your distress so that you can deal with it better if you can’t avoid it.

4. At all costs and if at all possible, avoid people and places that could cause you more stress when in distress.

Often distress is an unconscious response to external stimuli. In other words, the reaction may actually a habit. In order to deal with this type of distress, it is important to write down triggers and anything that comes to mind which led to an episode of distress. By confronting learned behaviors, we can change to ones that enable us to cope better and avoid distress.


Alcohol is Dehydrating and then Some, Simple Food Remedies blog, image credit with thanks:  Excitable Cells.

Caffeine is Dehydrating Except for Coca Cola, Martians & the Similarly Minded, Simple Food Remedies blog,

Changing and Forming HabitsMake Habits Work for You, Jennifer Wilson Life Coach blog, ttp://

How TV Triggers the Stress-Insomnia-Stress Cycle,

Sugar is Dehydrating, Simple Food Remedies blog,

Taking Time Out, Know Your Limits, Jennifer Wilson Life Coach blog,