We’re All Stressed So Let’s Understand It Better.
As a society most of us were running at a sprint in our daily lives prior to the pandemic. Now, many families have only added to their plate in the pandemic with homeschooling kids, working from home, and financial stress.
First, It is helpful to understand what it really means “to be stressed “and then we can learn strategic tactics to intervene.
Let’s understand that some stress is actually good for us. We become lethargic and too complacent when we have no stress, therefore zero stress ought not be the goal. (It’s not realistic anyway.) Conversely too much stress - common since the pandemic and especially true for business owners, executives, parents etc. can also leave us feeling depleted and like we are drowning in a tidal wave of emotion and responsibility.
When it comes to feeling chronically stressed, we need to tackle the real issues of finding balance between roles and responsibilities, managing energy and being intentional about our thinking and mindset.
These things matter most as we know pandemic or not, stress is going to be with us.
We need to also differentiate between distress and eustress.
The first is what we typically mean when we think or say that we feel stressed out.
The latter we rarely hear about, however it is the stress that we actually benefit from. When we experience eustress, it means we are growing and stretching ourselves in a good way- what lifting weights is to strengthen our muscles, eustress is for the mind.
You are experiencing eustress when you vacation in a new place, learn a new language, go skydiving, or otherwise challenge yourself.
To the body however, stress is stress and the same cascade of stress hormones occur either way. The body and brain are well designed to handle short bursts of either distress or eustress.
Problems arise when we are dealing with chronic distress, as in living through a pandemic.
Learning to deal effectively with stress is paramount to a strong immune system, good relationships, consistent and strong work performance and overall enjoyment of life.
Here’s a few tips.
PAY ATTENTION- Start tuning inwardly, not just outwardly on all the current circumstances. Notice the tension you are carrying in different parts of your body. Notice when you are becoming impatient, fatigued, irritable and ineffective. Your body will tell you when the stress is having an accumulative affect if you will listen. Then intervene with some deep breathing, journaling, walking or just taking a break.
STAY AWARE- Of your thinking. When you begin to have the mindset of negativity and distress, start listening to your self talk. What messages are you giving your brain? This is just the way it is? There is nothing I can do? Those messages are discouraging and often wildly inaccurate, so listen so you can correct them with empowering messages of specific things you CAN do.
SHIFT SOME KEY HABITS- That take you further down the road of depletion. Making time for selfcare is not selfish it is necessary if you are going to maintain all your roles and responsibilities. Selfcare is like oxygen. We need it, so get creative and figure out how and when you will eat better, move your body, connect with others, and find some spiritual time. You may have to take it more often in shorter bursts which is still beneficial.
Stress is here to stay. Becoming intentional about how to manage it is the difference between being a victim to it or actually becoming empowered to take charge of it.
The latter is a mindset you can practice adopting. This is your one precious life. Live it well.