I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t deal with mega bouts of stress very well, and I hate getting overwhelmed! But I can also say that I’ve learned ways to really get better at coping. And it’s a skill that gets better the more you practice.
When I work with my health coaching clients, they often cite stress as the reason for over eating, smoking, shopping spurges, or other soothing and comforting behaviours. These behaviours do soothe – for five minutes, then when the distraction is over it’s back to sweaty brows and high blood pressure again.
The truth is, none of us can cope with stress if we don’t practice any coping skills! Dealing with stress is not about being brave, or pulled together in the moment that stress hits the roof. It’s about practicing techniques every day, or every week at the very least, that will give you the tools to pull out in moments of high tension.
Facing your daily pain with kind awareness is exactly the skill that needs to be practiced. Doing this not only helps you ride the waves of stress, but it can actually keep stress from building up to fever pitch. What this means is that you turn towards those small annoyances, pains, sadnesses and frustration that inevitably creep up every single day. Breaking a plate, taking a wrong turning, having your family be aggravating. Learning to breathe and accept these lower level stressors is practice. Practice for, well, tomorrow when the same stuff happens again! But it’s still difficult to practice in those mini meltdowns too. So for that it’s time to supercharge your practice, and learn to step back from your thoughts? How? Well if you are a reader of this blog, it will come as no surprise to hear me mention MEDITATION! It is KEY to learning to see that you are not your thoughts. Often events are neutral, but it’s our negative, criticizing voice that pours fuel on the fire – and that’s the stressor. Hence why learning to step away from THAT voice is imperative!
Meditation is not the only way to go though. Mindful moments are also important. What these are, are moments of tuning in to your experience of your day. In mundane-washing-the-dishes moments, to those tiny little niggling bits of frustration that are simply a part of everyday living. Turn to them. Notice them. No need to judge, or change, but accept them.
What you are doing here is learning that you can actually deal with annoyances! This is a great skill to have, and will keep you healthier in the long run.
Before wrapping up, I will also point out that the advice to look after yourself is cliché – but accurate. Taking time out for self-care is vital. But not just any self-care, like moisturizing your knees(!) But real self-caring attitudes and structures that will stand up for you when you are low. Boundaries, for example! Saying no, giving yourself time. Backing off from discussions that aren’t helpful. Not watching news every.single.day.
Facing your daily pain and self-care are topics I discuss often on this blog, so browse around and look after yourself!