How to Deal With Stress In Challenging Times
Stress is unavoidable. It happens to everyone. In addition, stress can be an invisible monster. Even further, stress can hurt your body more than you think. How you deal with stress is important to your overall well-being.
Two years ago, I started taking a Master's in reading. As a reading teacher, I wanted to learn more and have an updated toolbox to teach it.
I started the program in the summer. Which I'm sure you know... I don't have any kids in a classroom over the summer.
During one of the classes, one of the assignments was to teach a certain lesson to a small group of students. In the middle of July. WHAT????
How did I deal with the stress?
Not so good back then. I'd give myself an F- in handling this situation.
It was something so small that could've been handled easily. But... my brain went straight to stress and full out panicked. And it happened quickly.
There were a million questions pinging around in my brain. Why would they do this? Do they know it's the middle of July? Do they know teachers don't have kids in classrooms right now? How am I supposed to teach this lesson with no kids?
As a result, I sent my body and brain straight to the stress-induced panic mode. The mode where you make really stupid decisions and can't seem to think logically.
It got so bad that I almost QUIT MY MASTERS!!
To sum up, this story proves how quickly stress can go through your body and disrupt your decision-making process if you don't deal with stress correctly.
Yep. This was me two years ago. Not able to deal with stress in the right way. However, now is a little different.
Why Do You Deal With Stress Like This
Your brain views stress as a threat.
Think of it this way... When you feel threatened what do you do?
You either fight or flight. In other words, you either avoid the situation altogether or you take it head-on.
Well, this is what your brain does. It puts the body on alert and takes the threat head-on.
Your brain activates many-body systems when stress happens. Many of those systems get put into overdrive. Your brain wants to throw everything at the threat to try and get rid of it.
However, if this becomes a long-term thing, health impacts can be devastating.
Health impacts include sleeping problems, mood disorders, and weight gain. These problems can lead to poor gut health. Furthermore, gut health can lead to many other health problems such as a weakened immune system and more.
Do you see how stress can cause a downward spiral if it's prolonged? One health issue can lead to another without you even knowing it.
This is why it is SO important to deal with stress and handle it as best as you can.
Ideas to Deal Positively
Let's dive into three ways you can handle stress in a healthy and healing manner.
Deal With Stress By Accepting It
The first and the most important thing you can to deal with stress is to accept it.
Many times, people will not accept how they feel or that they are stressed out.
This can cause us to hold onto those feelings or that stress for longer than we need to.
If we don't accept how we feel, how can we move on? Sweeping things under the rug does not work. That stressor or that feeling stays with us, in the back of our minds. And this is because we haven't fully healed from it because we didn't deal with it properly. As a result, long-term stress happens and it will take a toll on your body.
When we go through the process of acceptance, we are forcing those feelings or what is making us stressed to the front of the brain.
When our problems are at the front of our brain, we are more aware of them and more willing to take care of them.
Deal with your feelings and stress in a healthy manner. Accept them. Go through the roller coaster of emotions.
There is no suggested time frame to do this in. Everyone processes things at their own pace and in different ways. In other words, it doesn't matter how long it takes to accept. The most important thing is that you genuinely ACCEPT it.
Do Something About It
So, the first step is accepting your stress and the feelings that come with it. The next step is to do something about it.
This doesn't mean sit on the couch and say you've accepted how you feel. And... now you're done.
Yes, acceptance is hard work. But don't stop there.
Stress will come back and you will have to go through this process all over again.
However, we can make the process a little easier if we take care of ourselves. Likewise, do things that can strengthen the reaction to stress in our brains.
Here are some ideas you can use to help you better deal with stress next time:
Meditate- meditating can help you gain control over your thoughts. It can help you be responsive rather than reactive. Meditating doesn't have to look the same for everyone. If you don't want to close your eyes, don't. If you don't want to sit cross-legged, don't. Lay down. The important thing to do here is to visualize and just be.
Just take a break- stop making so many decisions, say no when you just don't have the energy reserves to do so
Go to SLEEP- sleeping helps regulate your hormones, your stress levels gives your body time to repair itself and improves how your brain functions (aka better decision making).
Exercise- people are born to move. It helps with brain function and helps relieve muscle tension
Infrared lighting on your face- increases serotonin
Acupressure mat- relaxes tension
Affirmations- What you say to yourself, you believe. Be the one to say positive thoughts. Your brain will default to them if you use them enough and consistently
Daily journal writing- write your gratitude, reflect on your day. This alone can help you improve the way you deal with stress.
HAVE SOME FUN
This is the most basic of them all. It's so simple and so effective yet people still don't practice it.
You need to be scheduling fun in your life like you schedule work meetings.
This means you don't have to schedule fun every single day. But, you should be making time for things you enjoy. It's called work-life balance.
We get so caught up that we forget the fundamentals. And when we get busy, fun is the first thing to go.
But we have to remember to do this. If you work, work, work all the time guess what increases?
Your stress levels. Which can throw everything else out of whack.
Lighten up a little and enjoy the things that you love. Give your brain a rest.
In the end, it will make you better prepared to deal with stress in a healthy way. When you start taking care of yourself and putting things into place that is fun, you will be able to handle to deal with stress head-on and then move on. It won't feel like one thing after another.
Deal with things as they come and move forward. Don't let things pile up to where you can't deal anymore.
Check out this blogger's post for fun ways to reduce stress- 7 Fun Stress Relieving Activities
It's okay to feel stressed sometimes. You can't escape stress. It's going to happen especially in the busy lives we live in. It's how you deal with it that makes all the difference. The difference in how your brain functions and your overall well-being. Make it a daily point to take care of yourself. As a result, you will be stronger, better prepared, and able to reduce your stress in the right way.
Certified Brain Health Coach
Owner of SustainaBRAIN