Stress is a topic on everyone’s mind. It has been for a while, but it’s even more so now it seems.
If you have children in school, you might be stressing over them masking, or not masking, or whether you’ll have to figure out how to homeschool again which was a complete nightmare and this time might just completely push you over the edge…
You might be in customer service, and customers seem more difficult because they are impatient or you don’t have what they usually order. You might be the customer and you’re trying to be understanding but you only have a half hour for lunch. You might be that employee on the floor trying to do six jobs because everyone is short – short staffed, short on supply, short-tempered, short on time… And let’s not even get into healthcare workers. There’s not enough space.
Feeling stressed yet?
Let’s think about it a different way. If you had no stress, you’d actually be dead.
Just living implies a certain level of stress. Your heart beating, your lungs expanding and relaxing, muscles moving – our bodies are designed to function with a certain amount of stress on the systems. Layer on top of that, our nerves carry pain signals to tell us if something is wrong, like you just ran your little toe into that chair. Our brains are designed to warn us if there is a survival threat. If you didn’t have the “stress” of pain and fear, you wouldn’t be here. Some stress is a good thing for us. Sometimes we even enjoy it in the right context, like meeting a challenge or riding a roller coaster.
Sometimes, reframing our stress and anxiety can be very helpful in helping us cope.
I am not suggesting we normalize very high levels of stress and anxiety. Rather, naming the real reasons we feel negatively stressed, honing in on the ones we can actually change (or want to), and realizing we have a choice in how we handle these things all go a long way to reducing our negative experience of stress.
Ask yourself what you are feeling (besides stressed). Are you worried about outcomes? Is it that you misjudged a situation or made a mistake? Is it just that there are a lot of demands on you at the moment and it feels overwhelming?
Ask yourself what you might be able to do differently. Do you need to ask for help, adjust your schedule, get more information, or have a conversation with someone? Do you need to just acknowledge the stressful situation and make plans to practice some healthy coping skills before and after?
Keep in mind the good parts of the stress. That can be tricky, but there’s usually something. Maybe most of the time you enjoy your job, or you are helping others, and stress is just part of the package. Maybe the stress is that warning sign, telling you you need to make some adjustments, just like your toe telling you that chair needs to move.
Above all, give yourself some grace. Stress is something we all feel, and feel negatively, sometime or another. It’s also very individual. Comparing yourself and your situation and coping skills to someone else is rarely helpful. You are you, doing the best you can.
We know that even reaching out for help can be stressful. We try to make it as easy as possible. You can reach out to us via our website, Facebook (wholeandholypa), or call us at 717-746-8750. We’d love to help you work with your stress.
(PC: Francisco Moreno on Unsplash)