|Let’s be honest – there’s no shortage of things that could be stressing you out these days.|
The last couple of years, even the last couple of months, have been rife with unprecedented and incomprehensible realities.
Processing and making sense of it all is requires energy, putting stress on the mind and the body that can manifest in a myriad of ways.
→ You might notice yourself frequently caught in negative or anxious thought patterns.
→ You may feel sensations of exhaustion or overwhelm.
→ Maybe you’re short on patience lately, or the problems in your life seem insurmountable.
These are all symptoms of chronic stress – persistent unresolved distress that we carry with us throughout our days, sometimes without even realizing it.
It’s as though a dark cloud rolls in overhead and follows us around, casting its shadow on everything we see.
|More than ever, it’s vital that each of us be well-equipped to manage our stress and navigate difficult thoughts and emotions. |
While we can’t avoid them entirely, we can be proactive in recognizing those thoughts and feelings and regularly taking steps to resolve them.
Here are a few tactics for shifting your mindset and emotional state when you notice yourself weighed down by negativity:
1. Shake it off. I don’t mean that in a “buck up and carry on” kind of a way. I mean, literally, shake the stressful energy off of your body.
Sound woo-woo? Your dog doesn’t think so! All mammals instinctively shake off energy to reset after a traumatic experience. If you’re a dog owner, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed your dog do exactly this after a scary encounter with an aggressive dog (or say, a vacuum cleaner, depending on your dog).
And they’re not alone – animals in the wild do this as well. Tremoring or shaking the body turns off the body’s fight or flight response to danger and releases the excess energy of stress instead of storing it in the body. Because of our conditioning, humans often don’t allow for this physical release, and as a result, the stress stays in our system.
You can release this energy in a variety of ways: get outside for a walk, get in a workout at the gym, do some yoga stretches at home or dance it out in your living room. Just MOVE.
2. Become a silver linings enthusiast. Build the habit of looking for the positive in every situation. When you’re dealing with anxiety, your brain can develop patterns of looking for reasons to worry or be anxious in any situation.
Luckily, with repetition you can also build neural pathways in your brain that routinely look for the good in every circumstance.
One way to do this in difficult moments is to ask:What can I learn from this? or What is this here to teach me?
These questions reframe challenges as opportunities to grow. And the more you practice, the more you condition your mind to play this pattern when things get tough.
3. Engage in activities that infuse you with good energy. Similar to point 1, there are things you can do to shift the energy in and around your body.
Think of things that automatically improve your mood – spending time outside, being in the sun, listening to beautiful music, working in a garden, reading a good book, going to a light-hearted movie, or spending time with a pet or loved one.
Know what activities light you up, and schedule time each week to ensure you are building these mood-boosters into your days.
Over time, having more of these moments that regularly lift your energy will create a cumulative effect of positivity.
4. REST. Take a nap. Take a mental health day from work. Hire a babysitter or enlist your support system, and give yourself a night off.
Often when we are stressed, deadlines and pressure seem more intense, making us less inclined to take breaks.
But in reality, taking the time to rest, sleep, or recharge is often the best thing we can do for our productivity.
Know when you’re approaching your limits and prevent burnout and overwhelm by taking the one hour break, the vacation day, the early bedtime.