We recently taught a class on how to change your relationship with stress. In this class, we focused on encouraging a different perspective that treats stress as your partner and not your enemy. We cannot escape stress, it is an inevitable part of life. Therefore, accepting stress as a part of life and changing your perspective will improve your life. Taking this perspective has shown to improve your health and overall quality of life.
The question is how do you treat stress as a form of growth, building resilience and adaptability versus something that debilitates you?
Here are simple strategies that you can use:
- Reframing your view on stress
It is easy to get caught up on all the daily tasks we do that stress us out. We worry about the smallest things in our society that literally could ruin our whole day or even week. Next time you catch yourself worrying about something little, stop, notice, and ask yourself: is this worth it? Seeing the bigger picture is important with reframing your relationship with stress. I know Chipotle raising their burrito bowl price by a dollar might seem worthy of a total meltdown. But take a deep breath and think to yourself: will this extra dollar really drastically change your life in the grand scheme (maybe?). Think about what your life means as a whole and if that stressor is really going to affect your life on a larger level.
- Find a Movement Practice YOU Enjoy
Movement is so important for your overall health, but it is definitely a way to adapt and manage your stress. Sometimes we are so bummed out by all of the stressors in our life and what do we do? We sit around and dwell on them even more (while simultaneously wolfing down Krispy Kreme donuts). A movement practice you enjoy is so important because it is essential for stress management! You are not going to feel ANY better about a situation by dragging yourself to a practice you absolutely hate. For me that would be going for a long run. I HATE running! It will just stress me out more! So next time, you are feeling overwhelmed go do something you love that brings you joy. It can be as simple as taking a walk outside in nature. Or for me, it is being a fool and dancing to Hawaiian reggae artist J Boog in my apartment while my pets are looking at me like I am a crazy person.
- Form Positive Social Relationships
Learning this a long time ago would have helped us out in really difficult and challenging life situations! You are the sum of five people you’re around most. You might ask, can your dog be one of these five people? Yes, totally! When was the last time your dog judged you or hated on you? Unless for some reason you have a dog that is a total hater and judges you for wearing that ugly dress. I dunno, anything is possible?
Anyways back to the point, form relationships with people (or pets) that are positive influences in YOUR life. These people will bring you joy and won’t drag you into more stressful situations. This again is difficult in a culture that preaches quantity over quality. But trust me this is something you should choose quality over quantity, even if that means one of those influences has to be a pet!
Fun Fact: A sign of intelligence is having the ability to be picky with who you socialize with. Score for the introverts in the world!
Another interesting article from Forbes on this topic:
- This one is for all you Perfectionists out there! You all know who you are!
Admit it, no one is perfect. We all struggle with this, especially me. I have been an all or nothing person for so many years and catching myself in perfectionism tendencies that only lead to feelings of inferiority or unworthiness. As humans we are imperfect beings. Acceptance is the first step! And changing your mindset from perfect to good enough. Trust me, it will take a huge weight off of you! You can even say to yourself “I am not perfect, I am not perfect, I am not perfect.” Writing down the awesome things in your life on a daily basis that are “good enough” also helps.
- Laugh Therapy
Laughing is therapy for me and is such a HUGE stress reliever. I love laughing, who doesn’t? In some of the most stressful situations in my life, I definitely benefited from some giggle therapy. I had one coworker in my lab who would do this and literally just laugh at crappy situations that she knew she could not change. There was a joke in my lab that laughing at these stressful situations would keep her telomeres longer and prevent the debilitating effects stress has on her chromosomes (next NIH grant application?). Yes, stress shortens telomeres and accelerates your aging people! So next time you feel SUPER stressed out, put on some Chris Farley Saturday Night Live Videos and just laugh your ass off. Trust me it works. There is even a body of research proving the benefits of laugh therapy.
I am ending this post with laugh therapy, now go watch some funny videos and laugh!
This is all I have for now. Hope you all take these to heart!