Let’s face it, 2020 has been a real jerk so far. Most of us could use some help in the stress management department.
We’ve touched on stress before in some of our blogs, including some holistic ways to manage it. We’ve also talked about how change can certainly exacerbate or create stress, but we may be a little bit beyond change right now. Some people aren’t so worried about staying in or wearing a mask at the store or avoiding crowds anymore, that’s old news. They are (understandably) downright fearful about the future.
We humbly extend the possibility that maybe we can take it all one day at a time and see what happens from there? After all, Mark Twain once famously said “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
Now, in no way, shape, or form are we minimizing people’s predicaments right now. Financial instability, threats to our health, and social divisions are really real. Like really. But we do have tools we can use to try to chip away at those predicaments, and possibly make them a little less looming:
First things first:
Take some time to sit quietly and organize your thoughts as best as you can around each stressor in your life. When you take some time to tease apart the issue, you’d be surprised at how much easier it is to think objectively about what’s causing your stress.
From there, break down the problem into smaller bits so you can untangle the bigger problem and address each component of it a little at a time. Not only is it easier to cope that way, but it also helps us get to the very bottom of the issue.
Don’t forget to write down your thoughts and feelings about it all. It’s amazing how writing down your mess can lay it out in front of you and you can look at it clearly for what it really is.
It’s always great to make a realistic, time-bound to-do list, or a list of things you’re aiming to achieve. The feeling of accomplishment you get from crossing off those things on your list will boost your sense of control over your environment and your personal empowerment.
We’re gonna throw another Twain quote at you here because it’s so darn relevant. He said: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Point is after you’ve broken down the unpleasant things you’re looking at that stress you out, do the tasks on your list that you really would rather procrastinate away.
The reward you’ll reap is even better than crossing stuff off of your to-do list. It’s like crossing it all out at the same time. Once you’ve done that one thing you really, really don’t want to do, it’s smooth sailing.
No one’s throwing rocks at you from over here if you have a tendency to reach for the wine, chocolate, or whatever’s your poison when it comes to coping mechanisms. We all probably have our own, but try your best to take a breath before you reach for the cake. Establish a backup mechanism to go to when the urge strikes that will help you get through the mood.
Do NOT pick something you feel like you “should” do. Pick something you love to do, or at the very least you like to do. Also, it helps by leaps and bounds if you’re good at it. (Again, boost that sense of control and empowerment!)
Stuff like cooking, gardening, reading, running or walking in nature, and painting are good examples, though there are a ton more out there. Whatever it is, have it ready for your backup and put down the chocolate. There are also plenty of herbal adaptogens that can help us… adapt.
Much like writing, talking out your stress can be quite cathartic. It’s another way of labeling them to see clearly and put them in their place. If you don’t want to speak to a friend or family member, think about finding a therapist, or at least just someone to talk to.
Sometimes, talking to someone you don’t know is easier than talking to someone close to you. Talkspace is an excellent resource to start.
“Things will get better” is kind of a cliche. Of course they’ll get better, give it enough time. There’s nowhere else they can go.
The problem is, will “things” drag us through hot coals and broken glass before they get better? Maybe, but it’s how we handle the pain and heal our wounds that matters in the end.
Everyone’s stress shows itself differently, and some people will snap at you in the line at the grocery store to vent theirs. Make sure the buck stops with you. Don’t return the aggression, and definitely try not to transfer it to others.
How we treat ourselves and each other during times of stress determines largely how it’ll affect us. Try to stay non-reactive and as compassionate as you can during this time. You’ll be amazed at how fast you can spread hope.