RELAX: It's important to find strategies to deal with stressful situations.
RELAX: It's important to find strategies to deal with stressful situations. AndreyPopov/iStock

Having the right toolkit for stress

LIVING NATURALLY with Olwen Anderson

MOST people have one - you probably do too.

It's a 'special' drawer somewhere in the house, usually a kitchen drawer.

It's usually stuffed to the brim with tools you're sure to need some time: replacement light globes, batteries, odd nuts, bolts and screws, rubber bands...

The drawer remains closed most of the time because we don't usually need to change light bulbs or tighten a loose hinge every day, but I bet you feel confident that when something needs to be fixed, the tool you need will likely be inside that drawer.

There are times in your life when you probably feel you could use a virtual 'fix-it' drawer stocked with tools to help you cope.

Like when the demands of life suddenly propel you from a sense of coping to a sense of overwhelm.

Perhaps you have to untangle a legal issue, or your job has evaporated and so your income has too. Or the relationship you thought was 'the one' turns out to be quite the opposite. It's stressful.

But even positive events can stretch your coping abilities: like starting a new job, moving house, planning a wedding. Whatever the reason, your usual health management practices just don't seem to be enough.

When life gets like this, it's reassuring to know you have the health equivalent of a fix-it drawer on hand to support you, to boost your physical and mental resilience until life calms down again.

This toolkit might contain the phone numbers of practitioners you trust, like a soothing massage therapist or a counsellor. A day spa voucher you've been saving. Perhaps some supplements to nourish your nervous system.

How do you know when to reach into your health fix-it drawer for extra support? Well, that could be part of the toolkit too.

You probably already know from uncomfortable experience the signs of stress overload: like restless nights of tossing and turning, cravings for sugar or losing your appetite completely. Finding it difficult to cope with other people's quirky driving. Snapping at your loved ones for something that really wasn't that bad.

So maybe a fun project for this weekend could be to put together your health fix-it kit, your go-to resource to support you when times are tougher than usual.