We know that times are tough and based on how things are looking, it may take a further dive as the years go by; couple that up with the fact that we have our own personal aspirations and work responsibilities to live by to create a perfect concoction that leads to feeling overwhelmed. Thus, it is imperative that we remain grounded and calm even in the face of uncertainty, adversity and chaos.
There are different types of stress, some are even imperative for one’s personal and spiritual growth, but the stress that we are going to talk about in this article is the stress that is caused by big life events, challenges or changes that humans experience such as losing a job (especially with the pandemic happening), financial and marital issues, holding too much responsibility, big major life change such as moving across countries alone, etc. High levels of stress, if sustained for long periods of time, can lead us to feeling stuck, paralyzed, anxious and worse, lose interest in life.
However, fret not for there is still hope! By creating and incorporating stress-buffering activities in your life, you can face life with hope and optimism regardless of how many lemons life throws at you. Below are some of the easy ideas that you can incorporate in your life to give you that edge against negative stress.
Surrounding yourself with people:
Everyone wants to feel like they are cared for, nurtured, appreciated and that they are part of something bigger like a cause, community or social network. Being surrounded by positive people can provide us with the resources that we need to better cope up with the challenges that we are facing. Personally, I tend to shut down and isolate myself from people when I feel upset or devastated by something, but I found out that this just creates a spiraling down of thought processes, actions and behaviors that makes me feel worse later on. Thus, I make extra and necessary effort to reach out to people especially when I need it the most. Just the same, you don’t want to be that friend whose like a harbinger of terrible news, so celebrate the good times with your loved ones as well and ensure that you are there for them through their bad times. Relationships are mutual.
Get moving! Workout or do “heavy work”
Did you know that proprioception or that sensation our joints and muscles get when we move, or do something heavy is calming for the entire body? Just the same, doing moderate intensity physical activities helps our brain release endorphins and serotonin that instantly lift your mood up? Creating a routine that involves physical activities help us regulate ourselves and our mood such that when things get hard or rough, our bodies can fight back physically, mentally and emotionally.
Similar with how our brain reacts chemically when we work out, our bodies release “feel-good” hormones too when we do something that we love. Take note that leisure activities are very personal and subjective such that what works for me might not work for you. Personally I enjoy reading books, writing, doing yoga, and spending time with our dogs, family and friends. What do you usually enjoy?
With the constant pressure and stress that we encounter on a daily basis from commuting or traveling to work, the responsibilities that we have to juggle from our roles such as being a student, worker, parent, sibling, etc and other life stuff, our bodies often forget how it feels like to just be calm and present in the moment.
We have to teach ourselves to slow down by being mindful of how we are spending our time and life. Whatever it is your are doing, try to refocus or recalibrate your breath especially when you are starting to feel too stressed. This way regardless of where you are, who you’re with or whatever you’re doing, you can always go back inside to that peaceful spot.
Having a time to pause affords us the opportunity to scrutinize our long-held beliefs and then create strategies that will help us live a better life. Just the same, reflection gives us the opportunity to look at how we have lived our lives and recalibrate it to where we want to be in the future. There are a lot of available and helpful resources such as podcasts, websites, blogs, and books that can create “guided” reflections so you have an idea of the questions you should be asking. Learning happens when you go deep within and regurgitate ideas and thoughts already inside your brain to develop new insights that will help you live life better.
Stress is an important part of life for growth, but sometimes life can throw too many of it in our direction such that things just feel too overwhelming. Creating stress buffers help us to look at things objectively by making us feel less vulnerable, and by giving back that inner sense of control to keep us afloat across life’s journey.