Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as stress management. We don't "manage" our stress, rather it manages us, or we learn to reduce it.
We tend to believe that stress happens to us, but the truth is that stress is created within us. It is manifested by our reactions to things happening in our lives. I know what you're thinking right now.
"LJ, I am having trouble making ends meet, my family is a mess, I am constantly running from place to place with my kids, my boss is breathing down my neck even when I'm not there, and I haven't had a good night's rest since my 12-year-old was born"
Am I close?
Actually, you don't have to answer that. I know I am because I have the same kind of storm pelting my life too.
Depending on where you are in your life right now, you may want to take whatever device you're on and throw it after you read my next sentence...
You're creating your own stress.
Yep, you read it right We all create our stress or lack thereof because our perception is our reality. If you perceive everything is happening to you and you lack the control to handle it, that is exactly what will happen when something else goes wrong (because something else is going to go wrong).
Call it hope or call it work, but you do have the power to control it. You cannot control the stress triggers coming at you, but you can control your reaction to that environmental trigger for stress
When something happens, there is space for us to use the more advanced and developed part of our brains rather than react using the most primitive part of our brains. It's a habit because like the lack of financial and nutritional education in schools, we aren't taught emotional intelligence in school.
The moment the stress is triggered you are most likely reacting not responding, and that's OK. After the point of reaction though, you have a choice to make. Do you want to stay in reaction mode or move to choosing a different response? The power of that choice helps you decide your stress level.
The triggered stress may come back to harass you from time to time, but once you're aware you can keep choosing to not be stressed. Does it sound impossible? I promise you it's not, but it is a process. If you've spent your whole like reacting, learning to respond may take time and work, but you can change your habit.
The first step in changing your habit is to be aware. Begin to notice what thoughts are running through your head as you notice tension in your body.
Next listen to the thoughts and notice how you emotionally respond to those thoughts. Do you feel sad, angry, hurt, frustrated, helpless? Maybe you know what you’re feeling and maybe you don’t.
As the thoughts continue to race through your mind, take a breath, a long and deep breath to interrupt the thoughts.
Immediately you will feel less stressed by the situation.
Notice which thoughts are lies and which are truths.
Breathe truth into those negative lies, and if you’re not sure how to do that, just keep breathing!
It will get better and easier, so keep at it. Remember to be kind to yourself because you are learning a new skill and habit. That is always a process and doesn’t come over night. Remember self-compassion, self-love, and self-kindness even when you think you don’t “deserve” it.
Remember that you are worth the effort. You are worthy of living a happy life that rises above your circumstances.
Other preventative stress strategies include keeping healthy food habits (the best you can, not 100% perfection), take time for rest and relaxation, be more mindful in everything you do, exercise and/or move your body regularly, put your electronics away from time to time, and connect with people by making eye contact, touching, and smiling.
They are simple but not easy to prioritize. Take one at a time and get started. Do not expect perfection. Like any skill you will get better at it!
Please know that Infinitely Fit is a community here to support you locally, virtually, and in anyway we can. It takes a village, so let other be your village!
Happy & Healthy Days Ahead!