Stress comes up a lot in today’s world, but it is a very broad term that can be tough to define and even harder to understand. It has several interpretations and an unlimited number of sources. Sometimes stress is physical, but oftentimes, it can go unseen and be psychological.
• Physical – e.g., noise, crowding, pollution, illness, disability, lack of shelter
• Psychological – e.g., fear, frustration, anger, worry
While experiencing homelessness, stress generates along many of these pathways and may not be treated and cared for equally. Mental stress from an uncertain future can be just as destructive as the physical burden of losing a home, and it’s no surprise that mental well-being has been shown to improve while living in a healthy environment. There are some factors in our lives that we are not in control of, so leaning into the ones we can control is a good place to start looking for help.
Stress can stem from so many different places that there is no universal cure, but being aware of the sources and the consequences of chronic stress may assist with self-help. Being exposed to certain sources of stress is unimaginable to some of us, but can be a daily struggle to those experiencing homelessness. One place to start looking at managing stress is the 4 A’s:¹
• Avoid – plan out your days and take control of your surroundings; avoid people who bother you, learn to say ‘no’, and ditch part of your to-do list
• Alter – understand your limits and voice desired changes; respectfully ask others to change their behavior, communicate your feelings openly, manage your time more effectively, and state your limits in advance
• Accept – identify changes that aren’t possible; talk with someone, forgive, practice positive self-talk, and learn from your mistakes
• Adapt – change your expectations to fit each day’s stressors; adjust your standards, practice negative ‘thought-stopping’, look at your situation from a new viewpoint, adopt a positive mantra, create a list of all the things that bring you joy, and focus on the big picture
When stress settles in, you might feel alone and short on hope – but remember that many individuals have gone through similar life events and have gotten back on their feet with a strong commitment to self-help, and the assistance of organizations like Family Promise.
“Being at Family Promise gave me a sense of relief because it was a safe place for my children and I when we were displaced from our home. They have endless amounts of resources and the staff gave me a lot of motivation to succeed. I am so very grateful for their program. I do not know where my 3 daughters and I would be today if were not able to attend Family Promise.”
-Stephanie, FPHCR graduate
Just like looking out for signs of stress, we can help you look out for potential warning signs of homelessness through case management, community resources, and skill-building classes – all intended to help families maintain a stable home. However, if you’re past the stage of prevention, our rotational emergency shelter program and warm hospitality are the cornerstones of our Family Promise model. Keeping the family together is a priority because, without a place to call your own, you need people to call you theirs.
¹ MayoClinic.org; Health Information, Healthy Lifestyle: Stress Management
If you or someone you know is in need of shelter, contact Family Promise of the Harrisburg Capital Region. Please call (717) 737-1100 or start the application process online here.
To volunteer or donate, please visit here .