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Betrayed Spouse 101

Sailing the Sea of Stress: Coping Tools

Stress can upend your life, cause you physical harm, and keep you from doing the healing you need to do in this situation. Here are some helpful suggestions that will help you deal with stress.

Be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities (yours and/or your family’s), learn to say NO! Eliminate an activity that is not absolutely necessary. You may be taking on more responsibility than you can or should handle. You are not going to get over this overnight (no matter how much your spouse wishes you would), so you have to focus on YOU.

Shed the “superman/superwoman” urge. No one is perfect, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask yourself, “What really needs to be done?” How much can I do? Is the deadline realistic? What adjustments can I make?” Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Meditate. Just ten to twenty minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. Use the time to listen to music, relax and try to think of pleasant things or nothing. Practice progressive relaxation and deep breathing. You can buy relaxation tapes, CD's and DVD's at any bookstore these days.

Journal. Write it all down. Get it all out. All the anger, all the pain, all the crazy thoughts. Your journal is a place where you can say it all without criticism, without censorship. And as you move on, and reread those previous entries, you’ll see just how far you’ve come in the process.

Visualize. Use your imagination and picture how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully. Whether it’s an upcoming conversation you plan on having or visiting a place that might be a 'trigger', many people feel visual rehearsals boost self-confidence and enable them to take a more positive approach to a difficult task.

Take one thing at a time. For people under tension or stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. The best way to cope with this feeling of being overwhelmed is to take one task at a time. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. The positive feeling of “checking off” tasks is very satisfying. It will motivate you to keep going.

Exercise. Regular exercise is a popular way to relieve stress. Twenty to thirty minutes of physical activity benefits both the body and the mind. Take a walk. Concentrate on the feeling of the sunshine on your face or how brilliant the stars are. Regardless of what has happened to you, you are still a part of the universe, and you have a definite place in it.

Hobbies. Take a break from your worries by doing something you enjoy. Whether it’s gardening or painting, schedule time to indulge your interest, or take the time to finally explore a new one.

Healthy life style. Good nutrition makes a difference. Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol (alcohol actually disturbs regular sleep patterns), get adequate rest and exercise.

Share your feelings. Stay in touch with friends and family. Let them provide love, support and guidance. Don’t try to cope alone. If you’re not comfortable sharing about the affair with family and friends (I never told my family or our mutual friends, as we were rebuilding), then I urge you to seek out a support group. There are many online now – I have a list of some on the links page. I signed onto one that saved my sanity:The Betrayed Spouses Support Group on

Don’t be afraid to get professional help. It may be helpful to talk with your doctor, spiritual advisor, or employee assistance professional. They may suggest you visit with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other qualified counselor. And don’t be afraid to be ‘medicated’, if need be. Desperate times sometimes call for what you would normally consider ‘desperate’ measures. You do what you need to do to get you through this, with qualified medical and professional guidance.