How I Handle Stress in Uncertain Times

            With all of the recent changes in the world, stress seems to be an unfortunate daily constant for many of us. It can be tough to reign it in and not focus on the negative, when news cycles and the people around us are spewing discouraging statistics every hour. It’s enough to make me want to hide under the covers.

However, while there are many things I can’t control or change about my situation right now, I have managed to find some ways I am able to manage my stress level and keep myself from spiraling the drain.

Turn off the news. I realize that it’s important to stay informed about what is going on in the world around us, but at a certain point, it is no longer helpful and instead causes me more anxiety. I don’t need to know everything every second, especially if a lot of it is not constructive and repeating virtually the same information. I listen to what I need, and then I turn it off.

            Get outside. Fresh air is just that – refreshing! If I’ve been cooped up all day and haven’t had the chance to get outdoors, chances are that even a short walk around the block will lift my spirits. I know getting out in nature or even walking around the block may not be possible for everyone in these times, especially if you live in a densely populated area, but even standing outside the door for a few minutes can give your brain a break. If you can, breathe in that fresh air.

            Move my body. Most people know that exercise has a long list of benefits to your overall health, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation to go to the gym or get outside for a run. But the fact is that even a few minutes a day can make a difference. When I know I need to move but can’t seem to push myself to put my running shoes on, I at least make myself get up and do ten or twenty jumping jacks. Sometimes even that movement will kickstart my brain and I’m able to do a few more, and maybe jog in place for a little while, and oftentimes even that tiny burst of endorphins will have me feeling a bit better. So do what you can. Your body and mind will thank you!

            Listen to music. Everyone has their own specific songs that get them going when they need motivation. If you don’t, I highly suggest you find a few! When I am stressed, it honestly helps to lock myself alone in a room and blast (or use headphones if there are other people around) the songs that in the past have helped me get out of my funk and feel some release.

            Make a gratitude list. It’s cheesy, and it’s annoyingly trendy nowadays, and yet… it honestly works. If I am stressed and I take a few minutes to remind myself to be grateful for all of the things I have in my life – both big and small – then usually it helps me gain some perspective and feel a little calmer.

            Write it down. Taking everything that’s on your mind and writing it down can be a great form of release. Even if it’s just a stream of consciousness; no organization or reflection, just spewing everything that I’m stressed about or dwelling on, the process of getting it all out on paper is cathartic. And once it’s all out, I can do whatever I want with it. I can reflect, I can sort through and find solutions, or if I don’t want to look at it ever again, I can literally shred it. But for me, the physical act of writing it down is the true release.

            Stress can put us in an overwhelmed state of mind, but thankfully there are many solutions out there. Hopefully some of these can help you lift some of the weight, and alleviate those anxious feelings.

Stay strong and do what works for you!

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