We all experience stress at some point in our lives. Whether its getting a flat tire or losing a loved one, stress is hard. Many of us do our best to avoid stress. We take vacations and try to veg on the couch watching hours of netflix to try and not think about it. But it is unavoidable. So we just keep trying to plow through each day as careful as we can to avoid stress.
But what can we do when the stress of life becomes recurring? Whether it be from losing a job and struggling to find a new one, a chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, or all of these things combined. What do we do when the stress is too much for us to bear?
We need to reach out for hope. That can look like a lot of different things for a lot of different people. It could be talking to a friend and just venting without feeling like a burden, praying, meditating, seeing a professional counselor, and/or figuring out ways to improve your individual self. Also it is remembering that each day will bring stress but we can make it through.
Setting goals during these times can help us shake the feeling of being overwhelmed. Setting a simple goal each day that could be accomplished helps lift our spirits and provide motivation. The goal could be something as simple as making the bed or cleaning a room. Or it could be sending in a resume or reaching out to a friend. In the beginning, we need to make the goal something easily achieved. After doing this for a while, start doing two goals a day and start making them a little more difficult.Soon you will start to feel less overwhelmed and more able to put things into perspective.
Sometimes chronic stress can be due to not having enough time in a day, which means that adding one more goal to everything else can make you feel even more overwhelmed. If this is the case then what should you do? I suggest sitting down and writing out your priorities. Make sure that one of your top priorities is time to yourself.
Everyone needs some time to themselves to recharge and release the burdens from the day. That could be done by taking a bubble bath or by reading a book for fun. This could also be accomplished by going to bed a little early and just sitting there breathing and relaxing without the noises of the world surrounding you. During this time we need to put the cell phone down. Do not answer texts or work emails, take time to just breathe.
You might do all this, but each morning once you return to work or return to the day-to-day tasks, there it is staring you in the face, stress. We need to try and embrace it. Stress is never going to go away. It will always be present. Even if we move to a deserted island with perfect year round weather (I live in Ohio so this would be a dream) there will still be some kind of stress. So let’s stop and figure it out. Take a step back. We need to ask ourselves what is actually causing the stress? What can we do to alter it? Does it even need to be altered?
Stress is not always a bad thing. Stress can be good. Stress can teach us where our weaknesses lie and what we can do to improve. Stress also can move us to take action in areas of our lives where we would have not taken action otherwise. I am not saying that stress needs to become our best friend, but maybe every so often a welcomed acquaintance.
If we view stress as an inevitable consequence, then that opens the door for us to hope in other things. So no, this illness will not go away but that doesn’t mean that we cannot live in today. Despite the stress, what can we do to further our lives? What can we do to honor our lost ones memory? What can we do to accept the loss of our job and continue to move forward? To focus completely on the stress causes us all to lose sight of the possibilities of the future. Which in turn causes us to lose sight of who we are. Choose to push forward. Choose to not dwell in the negative but to hope in the future.
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