We all feel the effects of stress from time to time. Life’s circumstances often feel overwhelming and beyond our ability to fix. When (not if) this happens, it is important to have a game plan in order to deal with our stress appropriately. If we work the plan we can alleviate the stress rather than add to it with feelings that may spiral out of control.
Here are some tips to try when you feel stressed:
- Identify the main source of your stress. Make a list of your stressors if that helps you, or talk to a counselor or trusted friend who can help create a list. Decide which part of your list is something you can do something about and then…do something! The rest of the list may be beyond your control, in which case you must find a way to accept what is.
- Acceptance of what is. Sometimes there is nothing we can do to immediately change our circumstances. Pain happens when our circumstances cause us discomfort. We all have pain. It is sometimes unavoidable in life. Suffering is when our pain is multiplied as we don’t accept the painful circumstances that are beyond our control to change. This kind of suffering is unnecessary. If we can learn to accept the uncomfortable things that we can’t change, we can grow through them and focus our efforts on what can change.
- Expression of feelings. It is important to feel our feelings even with the painful things we can’t change. If you have experienced the death of a loved one, your shedding tears of sadness will not bring that person back. Does this mean we shouldn’t cry? Absolutely not. Expressing grief through tears is both a way to heal internally and honor the life of the one who has been lost. Feelings expression is a very vulnerable thing for most, so again, it’s important to find trusted family, friends, or a counselor with whom you can let down your guard.
- Remember the basics. In stressful times we may get out of our healthy routine. This is going to add stress to the problem! Remember to continue to do the following in times of stress:
- Get plenty of sleep, which helps rejuvenate the body and mind. Set a bed time if necessary.
- Continue to exercise. Sweating it out is a natural way to relieve stress.
- Continue to eat 3 healthy meals a day. Don’t forget to take your prescribed medication or your multivitamin. Don’t eat junk food.
- Continue to have fun. Don’t focus only on your stressors; they may swallow you up! Remember to do things that you enjoy and that give you life.
- Community is important for everyone. Sometimes our stressful thought patterns are all about perspective. Hanging out with friends can help give us greater perspective on life. This is needed in times of stress.
Remember, you aren’t alone in your stress. We all go through it. You have overcome everything in one way or another to this point in your life. You will get through your current stressors as well. You may even look back and laugh to see how much they helped you to grow into a stronger, more resilient person.
~Josh Grover MA, LMHC