Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Handling Stress in a Healthy Way

I recently received some ideas for new blog topics. One of them stood out to me as an important thing to address, dealing with stress. I think it's important to talk about stress because it is something that each and every person struggles with, no matter who they are, how old they are, male or female, rich or poor, we all deal with stress. Some of us deal with it better than others!

For me personally I have found that there are a few things to remember in order to be able to deal with stress well. The first thing I had to learn was how to live life from a powerful perspective, vs. a victim mindset. Just because you have a string of bad things happen to you, or even a series of horrible things that happen to you, it doesn't mean you are a victim for life. You can still be powerful in the midst of really difficult circumstances. Pain and hardships are not the end of the world. Learning how to stand and face my problems helped me feel powerful in life. Whenever I run away or avoid or try to cover up pain, I find myself acting like a victim. But when I stand my ground and ask for help, and deal with things head-on, I feel powerful, even when things don't go my way. Practice living life powerfully.

What makes you feel powerful?

Next, I learned to "know thyself." It is so helpful for me to have studied personalities for so long, that I not only understand what makes me tick, what motivates me and what scares me, but I also know those things about the people around me. Because I know myself really well, I know my limits. I know what I need, I know what will bring me joy. I've learned to listen to the signals my body sends me. When you develop habits of taking care of yourself, you are more prepared to handle stress well. I know that mundane routine wears me down. I know that I have a high need for change. I know that trying to keep my house really clean is near impossible with 4 boys. I know that I am no good to anyone before 9am. I know I love to cook but I hate to do dishes. I know that every once in a while I need a piece of bacon to feel satisfied. I also know that if I ate bacon every day I would be 200 pounds. I know that writing is an outlet for me, and I know that when I'm cooped up in the house too long with all my kids, I'm not the best mom I can be.

What do you know about yourself?

And lastly, it's important to know that no matter how hard you work on things, no matter how much you develop yourself, and no matter how many things you think you know there will be times of crisis where we are literally living in survival mode, just trying to keep our heads above water. In times like those I think it's so important to just give ourselves a break. Grace is what I cry out for in times like that. I give myself permission to temporarily melt down. I cry, I complain, and I say life is not fair. And at 34 years old, I still have weeks or even months when I live in survival mode. What do I anchor into when I'm in survival mode? I tell myself three things. The only thing that matters to me is that I come out of this season with my connection with God, my connection with my family, and my connection with my close friends in tact. Nothing else matters to me, not my weight, not my finances, not my goals, not my house, not a career, none of it is as important as my relationships. I lean heavily on others in seasons of survival, and I don't hold myself to high standards of performance. Survival seasons are not seasons to discipline yourself or accomplish new feats, or set new goals. It's not the time to evaluate yourself or grade yourself. It's simply a time to HANG ON, and GET THROUGH. Kind of like the song "if you're going through hell, keep on moving!"

Some people live in survival mode for years, and some people live there indefinitely. Take a look at your life. If you feel like you've been in survival mode for too long and need help breaking out - reach out and start pursuing something better for yourself. Our bodies were not designed to be able to handle the chemicals that get released when we are stressed long term. Not only will you feel worn down emotionally and mentally in extended or indefinite seasons of survival mode, but your body will start manifesting physical symptoms as well.

And lastly I'd say peace is my most effective weapon in handling stress well. When I focus on all that is going right instead of the things going wrong I feel peace. When I think about how much my husband loves me, I feel peace. When I count my blessings, I feel peace. When I slow down I feel peace. When I take a step back and look at things big picture, I feel peace. When I talk to my best friend I feel peace. When I cuddle with my kids I feel peace. And let's all just be real here, when I have a glass of wine, I feel LOTS of peace! All in moderation people, moderation!!!!! When I encourage people and counsel people I feel peace. When I make the world a better place, I feel peace.

What brings you peace?

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