by Murray Heintz, Registered Psychologist

Stress impacts people differently, and the response to stress is just as varied.  Many people use healthy coping strategies to reduce the anxiety that often accompanies stress.  Many people use food, alcohol, and drugs or make impulsive decisions to reduce this anxiety.

Another approach is to hold off acting for five minutes instead of reacting.

Instead of eating, drinking, consuming, or acting rashly when you think to act, wait five minutes.

Use that five minutes to try to calm yourself or to distract yourself.

You can also ask yourself, “Why do I want that food item, drink, cigarette, etc.?” “Is there something else I can do instead to calm myself?” “Will I still want to consume or do that course of action after five minutes?”

By waiting, you are demonstrating a level of control in situations where you may feel powerless or out of control.

If, after five minutes, the urge is still there and cannot be interrupted, indulge yourself or engage in the course of action you imagined earlier.

This can help reduce feelings of guilt afterward, recognizing that you demonstrated a level of control.

If, after five minutes, the urge has subsided to a degree, reevaluate if you still want, need, or must follow through with your earlier actions.

Over time, as your control strengthens, you can extend the time you wait, which demonstrates increasing levels of control.

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