Seems that eveyone I have talked with lately is feeling totally overwhelmed. They call it stress. Some of it is just the normal stuff we all expect, but don’t necessarily like — kid with a runny nose, another vet bill for the dog, taxes going up, no raise again this year… Yet other stressors seem almost senseless – riduculous, even. And these folks do really try to take steps to minimize the impact of the stressors they exprerience, or at least modify the way they handle them. But alas, they report, it seems to be relentless at the moment… We conclude that perhaps the world is not very friendly right now…
Stress is defined as any change that you must adapt to in our ever changing world. In particular, stress is any demand (force, pressure, and strain) placed on the body and the body’s reaction to it. Stress is experienced by everyone who is living, working, and breathing at this very moment. (That includes you and me!) It is a fact of life you cannot avoid. Stress, itself, ranges in intensity from the negative extreme of being in physical danger to the joy of completing a desired goal. All stress is not bad. However, it is important to identify how you respond to stressful events. This will determine the impact that these experiences have on your life.
Assess your current stressors and explore ways that you respond to them.
- Generate a list of current events that produce stress in your life.
(i.e., moved to new location, work or school demands, balancing priorities, job loss or promotion, political turmoil)
- Brainstorm how you cope with stressful experiences. Assess if you have a healthy or unhealthy coping style.
Healthy Coping Styles v/s Unhealthy Coping Styles
– exercise v/s alcohol or drug use
– down time for self-care v/s avoidance of event
– balancing work and play v/s procrastination
– time management-initiate schedule v/s overeating
After identifying stressors and coping styles, you can begin to modify your behavior.
- Be aware of your physiological and emotional reaction to stress
- Recognize what you can change (your reactions to stress, internal thoughts)
- Utilize healthy coping skills
- Incorporate good coping skills into your repertoire, increasing your options
- Practice healthy coping skills daily even when intense stress is not present (this prepares you for times when you may feel overwhelmed)
My stomach has been tied in knots for months… Have blamed in on holiday stress, travel, winter health crud, the lack of predictable routine to each week, to give just a few reasons… But something became crystal clear to me today after a conversation with a neighbor. We were out enjoying the sunshine… Me returning home from running errands. She walking her dogs.
Turns out that my neighbor has been feeling the same way, and like me, thinking it the result of the usual things that plague us during the fall and winter months. And as we expanded on our thoughts and feelings it dawned on both of us that we were not the only ones with this dilemma — a dilemma more intense and powerful than during any previous season of our lives. This state of distress and dis-ease, along with these deep feelings of being unsettled and not safe, is a phenomenon that is affecting so many in our world right now. Certainly in our country.
It started with the typical sorts of problems that most societies wrestle with in this day and age, such as a broken health care system, challenged public education, poverty, crime, terrorism, gun control… But these problems have morphed into something bigger and more sinister since the recent election.
Politics aside, there is so much toxicity around us that many people are isolating themselves, trying to understand what is happening, and why, and wondering what the outcome could possibly be. And, more importantly, can they do anything? What? When? Where? How?
Without question, I feel scared — worried for myself, my family, friends, neighbors, and clients. Like many, I have been consumed with that worry, often not even realizing it, however, that silent worry is eating away at my health and well-being. And for most of us, this is happening while we are also feeling quite alone and lost.
So many that I have talked with have expressed their own variety of this dis-ease… The conversation with my neighbor pulled many of the threads of the frayed fabric together, though. We are all literally “coming apart at the seems” simply because so much in our world has changed rapidly, and in recent months turned upside-down. Each of us struggle with how to right the wrongs we experience. Repair the damage.
I left my neighbor and marched back into the house with a new resolve to dig myself out of this worrisome state. Fast… Nothing was different except knowing that my neighbor/ friend next door was doing the very same thing. We were both alone, yet we were not. Each of us knew that the other was near and that if we needed to talk more we could. That realization left me feeling much less isolated. And with that comfort I sat down at the kitchen counter to make a list of what I could and should do to move myself to a better mental and physical state of function in order to better work with the changes that our society faces at this point in time.
Maybe some of the things on this short self-care list will help you… These are things you can do right now!
- Seek out a friend. Talk. Share. (Chances are good they are having similar struggles.) Develop a plan of how you can encourage and support each other.
- Reach out to an old friend or family member EVERY day. Check to see how they are doing. Keep up your human connections with those you care about. Invite folks over for soup. Meet for coffee. Talk. Phone chats can be wonderful. Find an old pen pal and see what they are up to. Write letters.
- Limit use of media. GREATLY reduce TV viewing, computer, and phone entertainment. CUT WAY BACK on time spent on social media. (I have found that social media can too easily pull me down and leave me feeling lousy.) Seek human connection over electronic connection.
- Research and follow respected journalism sources. DETACH from other sources of news.
- Play music that you like ALL THE TIME!
- Get plenty of EXERCISE. Walk with your pets and friends. (I like swimming and yoga!)
- Maintain a consistent sleep pattern. Don’t cheat yourself on sleep.
- Eat healthy. Savor your food. Eat with friends and family as often as possible.
- Surround yourself with POSITIVE PEOPLE. Ditch those who are toxic and generate drama.
- Drink lots and lots of WATER.
- READ good books.
- Plan a short trip with someone you enjoy being with. (My hubby and I are going to tack on a few days after one of his business trips to just regroup and appreciate our collective strengths.)
This is just a short list of things you can do right now. These work well for me. I am sure you have your own special list that you can write down and start on today. DO IT. NOW. TODAY, not tomorrow.
Certainly there is much more that we all can do about our current state of dis-ease, but today we start. Share with us what helps you get started and stay on a positive path.
Right now we all have to hold on to ourselves and take care of ourselves. In the days and weeks ahead we are going to need each other and be prepared to help each other in ways we never dreamed…