Tools for Tough Times: Shedding Stress

Why shed stress and harmful emotions?

  • They have a negative impact on us physically, and that impact can build up over time
  • Unremitting stress, anger, anxiety, or bitterness can “rewire” our brains and predispose us to reactions that we neither want nor need
  • If left unmanaged and unresolved, they can damage our relationships at home, work, and in the community
  • Resolving these influences in most cases is possible, and often is not that hard – the key is to start early in the process and to work on it some each day
  • What sheds these emotional responses often builds resilience and wellbeing at the same time

To help mitigate the impacts of harmful emotional responses, we need to take a break from them, counteract them mentally and physically, and replace them with better emotional and environmental coping strategies.  Stopping our negative self talk loop is of great importance and is a great starting point.  When you notice yourself thinking negative, distressing, fearful, or angry thoughts, “stop the train.”   Replace those thoughts with better, more positive, grateful, happy, or inclusive thinking every time you become aware of them.  That will make it easier to do the rest of the tips below.

Tips for physical and environmental stress and negativity shedding. 

  • Exercise, even if it is lightly – walk 30 minutes at lest three times each week, concentrating on better thoughts, breathing, and relationships, or work-out, bike, dance, garden, deep clean, whatever works
  • If you are stressed, anxious, depressed, or angry, stop and concentrate on slowing your breathing, observing your surroundings, and thinking better, healthier, more prosocial thoughts
  • Switch off – disconnect from the outside world, turn your phone off, avoid digital input for an hour or two every day.  Use that time for face-to face talks, helping others, restoring your soul
  • Eat and drink better – less junk, alcohol, and caffeine, more clear and healthy liquids, healthy foods
  • Get your sleep in – shoot for 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night at least 5 nights each week
  • Talk responsibly about your emotions with someone who can help you reduce your stress and negative responses, listen well, and assist in your recovery

Tips for today 

  • Make time to cut the digital clutter and be in a quiet place – even briefly – throughout your day
  • Change the scenery – get outside, do prosocial things, and develop healthy coping strategies
  • Spend time with loved ones and those who are life-giving to you – make it fun and not about troubles.

Image via author, Little Lakes Valley, Sierra Crest, California

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