Stress blog

Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. August 10, 2011

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Reading the blog comments, it's clear that many of you are struggling with issues of caring for others in the face of adversity and at great personal cost. I have a great respect for your commitment, and I want to share with you a coping technique that's helped me.

It's based on the idea that if you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, you can endure just about anything. To use the technique, tell yourself, "OK, this is a bad situation. I didn't wish for it, but I can focus my energies on resolving this problem for a certain period of time." Then decide how long, whether it's 10 days or a hundred. In other words, create an end point and keep it in your sights. Consider this story.

The English Channel is 23 miles of punishing water considered nearly impossible for a swimmer to navigate. However, a woman swimmer attempted it and got within 2 miles of this incredible achievement when she became confused and discouraged. Enshrouded in fog, she signaled that she wanted to quit. She was hauled out of the water and onto the boat. Only a few minutes later, however, the fog cleared and the shoreline came into view. The despondent swimmer said if she'd only known how close she was, she could have marshaled that extra energy to finish.

So it is with all of us. If we can visualize a goal, if we can tell we're making progress, however modest, we can almost always find the will to go the distance.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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7 Comments Posted

Aug. 10, 2011