When the world is talking, the messages are conflicting, the schedule keeps changing, and things are out of your control: stress is a pretty natural response. Stress, in fact, is a typical part of life even when things aren’t novel corona-sized. Stress can come in both good and bad packages and we usually can’t avoid it,
but we can utilize tools to manage it before it takes a damaging toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as our relationships.
As we find ourselves amidst a public health crisis, it’s also important to remember that increased stress does nothing to support your body’s physical health. Emotional stress typically leads to physical stress, which leaves you more at risk for illnesses of various kinds. We’ll tackle a few different ways to manage stress i
e’ll explore why stress management is imperative to boosting immunity and maintaining health, as well as offer some practical how-to’
s for managing stress before it controls you:
Discern between helpful and unhelpful voices, then chose the former.
The world is loud, and when we are in times of stress it is often difficult to filter which voices are helping us and those that are causing more harm. An important part of stress management is discerning between the two.
Some questions to consider: Does this voice set your mind racing on a plethora of “what ifs”? Does the voice point out only the worst case scenarios? Does the voice tell you to be afraid of specific people, places, and situations? Does the voice offer problems, but not solutions? If so, that is likely a voice (be it news agency, blogger, or friend) that you need to filter out of your daily narrative.
For the voices we should be listening to, ask yourself: Does this voice encourage me to acknowledge fear, but stay calm? Does the voice present solutions? Does the voice guide me to developing action steps to solve my problems? Does the voice tell me to focus on things I can control? These are the types of people that we should be allowing to speak into our emotions during times of stress.
Filter these voices wisely by taking time to unplug from constant news sources and social media scrolling, being intentional about choosing to read and listen to things will actually teach and help you, and being mindful of when conversations take a turn toward doomsday and turn it around by asking, “How can we help each other today?”
Find and take part in a community when and where you can.
We are entering a stage of understandable social-distancing, but that doesn’t mean you should isolate and alienate out of fear. Community can keep you connected to the fact that other people are having similar experiences and may have solutions to help alleviate your stress. So the important question here is, “How can I stay connected with people who can help and encourage me?”
Social media can be a double edged sword (see above), but a parenting group may be able to help you find ideas for things to do with your kids if they are home for a prolonged period of time, groups for small business owners can give you ideas about how to switch to online services to keep your income alive, and an online-based counselor can meet with you virtually to help you sort through the sources of your stress, as well as how to manage it. A text group with your friends can be a way to share photos of your day, memes that keep you laughing, and emojis when your kids are so crazy that words fail you.
Stress in isolation can breed desperation and fear, and it isn’t necessary or helpful. Connect with others, find ways to be a good neighbor, and build community that thrives even in difficult circumstances.
Connectedness means being conscious of the voices we listen to, as well as the words and attitudes that we are putting out into the world. Manage your own stress, and help manage that of others, by posting and speaking mindfully – focusing on things you know are true, that you can control, and that will encourage. Dwelling on stress gives it footholds to control your behavior and impact your choices, but managing in through discernment and good community can help diffuse the negative and keep you healthy mentally and physically.
Part 2 of the “Managing Stress” series is coming soon, so check back for more ways to stay calm and healthy despite the stress.