Megan Fryer ’10, a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) graduate and occupational therapist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, knows firsthand how radically stress affects people.
“Patients who have sustained traumatic spinal cord or brain injury experience not only pain, but also profound changes in their lifestyle,” she says. “Stress reduction helps them stay motivated and positive during rehab. I help them improve how they think about their bodies, their progress, and their lives.” Here, Fryer, who has appeared as an expert on Fox 2 News, shares an approach to wellness that can help anyone manage stress:
Try Guided Visualization.
After a lengthy and complicated hospital stay, one of Fryer’s clients was weak and feeling helpless. She asked him to picture himself—in two months—standing upright on a dock while fishing. “Positive affirmation through a guided visualization minimizes the negative internal dialogue that causes stress,” Fryer says.
Do Some Cardio.
While recovering from traumatic brain injury, a young woman was starting college and felt super stressed out. “She couldn’t focus on anything,” Fryer says. So Fryer had her do punches in the air, jumping jacks, and yoga poses to facilitate blood flow, get her endorphins going, and oxygenate her brain, which calmed her, allowing her to focus.
Keep A Stress Diary.
There are times when everyone feels overwhelmed. How do you fight it? “Become aware. Note and write down what triggers your stress,” Fryer suggests. Recognizing your triggers may help you manage them.
Are you sleep-deprived? Feeling job or financial pressures? “Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth,” Fryer says. “Stopping for a minute takes your body and mind away from the situation.” Once you’re calm, your priorities will come into clearer focus, allowing you to tackle them one at a time.
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