Improve your relationship with STRESS! | 6 ways to cope better!
Chronic stress creeps into our lives slowly, and we are seemingly unaware we’re operating in a stressed “survival mode”. My biggest wake up call EVER was when I fell asleep at the wheel and drove my minivan off the highway with my small children in the back, strapped into their car seats. “Drove” is an understatement, we flew off the highway, becoming airborne, landed hard, crashed through a massive fence and then many trees. I totaled the car.
I was a working mom with young kids and decide to take them on a work trip with me. I thought it would be fun. I was in control and capable of managing it all. In retrospect, I was running on empty long before the work trip, it was just the enough to put me over
the edge. Funny thing is, I thought I was fine and coping well. Was I ever in denial!
What I didn’t realize at the time were the effects of chronic stress on our bodies and mind. Cortisol floods our brains when we are in a chronic stress state and the impacts range from forgetfulness, to increased emotional responses, to brain cells aging prematurely, increased production of free radicals, to out right killing brain cells and these are just the highlights.
Of course, we can’t live without stress, but we can certainly become more aware of our stress and its impacts. Awareness helps us implement coping mechanisms, before we get into serious trouble.(Like I did)
Here are 6 tips to help you have a better relationship with stress.
- Recognize and name it. We can be our own worst enemies when our brains and bodies are overtaxed, and we tell ourselves “to push through” or “I’ll sleep longer tomorrow night.” If you are saying these things to yourself STOP it is a sign and you need to check yourself.
- Establish Control: What can you let go of and what can you impact? Stress isn’t always predictable, so focus on controlling the things that are. Create healthy habits and routines, this predictability can help to combat stress.
- Get a good night’s sleep. This is nothing new, we have been hearing this since we can remember. (My mom was extremely strict about this!) Don’t just get a good night’s sleep, value its benefits and prioritize this habit.
- Get organized. Stop telling yourself you can do it all. Map it out first and cut some of the commitments out. Planning can also help you predict when you are likely to be stressed. This will help you prevent bad outcomes!
- Get help if you need it. Reaching out can help you become more resilient and better able to manage stress. Earlier intervention may reduce disability caused by stress-related complications later on (like a catastrophic accident !!) If you feel supported during your stress, you are likely to weather it more successfully than if you don’t. Partnering with a coach is one way you can do this.
- Change your attitude toward stress. Rather than striving for no stress, strive for healthier responses to stress.
The ultimate goal is your health.
Healthy mind. Healthy body. Healthy attitude.
(BTW we walked away from that accident with only a couple of scratches, but my life was forever altered.)