I’ve been in a bit of a funk these past months. Significant stress within the family and at work have increased demands on my time and energy. Summertime brings many positive stressors, yet these, too, can add to the load. So I feel tired frequently and am having a hard time getting anything done.
Many of us go through stressful times-it is part of the natural “ups and downs” of life. Yet how we manage stress can have profound effects on our physical and mental health and wellbeing. If we handle it well, it passes with little effect. If we don’t, we set ourselves up for trouble down the road.
Here are six strategies that have been invaluable for me. Some of them are concrete steps you can take for the best outcome, others have more to do with how you think about what is going on.
- When you feel depleted, increase your level of self care. You can replenish your energy and lower perceived stress by getting more sleep, eating better, taking time to reflect, and moving the body, for example.
- Listen deeply to what you need in this moment. Let go of satisfying other’s expectations and focus instead on what you need to do, or not do. Often, not doing is the thing to do!
- Engage in activities that stimulate your relaxation response. Practice a gentle yoga sequence, get a massage, meditate, soak in a warm bath, spend time out in nature…these types of activities will calm and nourish you and reduce your stress reactivity.
- Spend time with people who fill you with positive energy and avoid those who drain your energy away. Approach this step with love and compassion for you and them, especially if dealing with family.
- Hold things lightly. I suffer less when I choose to be detached and flexible. Rather than being upset when plans change, I ask, “I wonder how this will turn out?” with an open mind and heart. Try it and see what happens for you!
- You don’t have to get it all done in a day. In a world that expects multi-tasking and high productivity, turning a project from an event into a process can be quite liberating. You can enjoy doing and completing each step in the process rather than missing the pleasure as you hurry to get done and move to the next thing on your “to do” list.
Clearly, there are many ways to care for ourselves during stressful times. You probably have some strategies that have worked for you. I’d love to hear about them and share them with other readers!