TinyBuddha.com | By Rosemary Bointon

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~William James

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt your world was ending? When the stress was overwhelming and you were so miserable, all you wanted to do was wallow in it and growl at the world from underneath the bed covers?

Or maybe you worry about things that might happen in the future. Do you see a minor accident on the road and have those flashes of imagining that your partner or your child died in a car crash?

Does your imagination crawl in horror over how you might survive such a terrible event?

Or maybe your cousin has had a stroke and you wonder if it runs in the family and you’re next.

Do you wonder how you would cope if that were the real situation? Do you think that you have resources and strategies you need to get yourself through the crisis?

My coping mechanisms were severely tested recently. Here’s my story and what I learned about gratitude and coping with stress.

Waking Up with Only Half My Face Working

Three weeks ago, I woke up to find I was suffering from semi-facial paralysis. My right eye did not blink or close. My mouth could barely open on the affected side. And when I tried to smile, I could only manage a very crooked grin—the right side just didn’t move.

The pain was bad, shooting up into my head like an electric shock landing in the center of my brain.

I woke up my husband. The ambulance came and I was rushed off to A&E or ER or, in my case, in Portugal, the Sala da Emergência.

I thought I’d had a stroke. I lay on the trolley, feeling sorry for myself and wondering what kind of life I might have by the end of the day.

How Learning to Cope with Stress is Like Learning to Fish When Hungry

Some people seem to cope effortlessly with whatever life throws at them—maybe it’s genetics, maybe it’s upbringing. But most of us struggle. We have to work hard to find peace amidst a storm of chaos.

Sometimes it feels too overwhelming and we sink into despair, anxiety, depression. We turn to crutches such as comfort food, sleeping pills, or alcohol.

But a crutch is a temporary fix, to tide you over. Long-term crutches can mean you forget how to walk. We need to embody skills that work for the rest of our lives.

It’s like teaching a man to fish. Show him how to use a fishing rod and he has a means of getting food for the rest of his life. It’s the same for coping with stress. We need skills,

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