We all experience stress on a daily basis, whether it is physical, chemical, emotional, environmental, etc. It is our resiliency to stress that determines how healthy we are. A while back, Dr. Liz and I did a talk discussing managing stress while pregnant and this question came up - are you feeding or are you starving your stress? Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but how you react to it makes the difference.
One example that Dr. Liz brought up was social media and how we consume it. On one hand, social media has been a good thing, keeping us connected with those who live in other parts of the world and bringing us instant access to information. On the other hand, it can easily suck us in for hours at a time, especially into some really negative spaces (think Facebook comment thread on a controversial post). I know when I have started reading comments on posts, the negativity really does affect my mood, despite it being the opinions of strangers. Or, in the case of COVID-19, with all the uncertainty and constantly changing information, reading posts would sometimes leave me feeling frustrated, anxious, and stressed.
Recognizing when something isn’t helping you or is further triggering a stress response is the first step to making sure the stress isn’t going to negatively impact you. Have you ever had a friend exclaim to you about how stressed they are? I had a couple of them who would constantly talk about how stressful their lives were, no matter what was happening. And you know what, because they focused all their thoughts on how stressed they believed they were, this affected them. The phrase was always said with such a tiredness (and mind you, at this point in time we were all single and in our early twenties with not a whole lot of responsibility). If they could have shifted their thought process around and focused on their situations as having healthy pressure instead of draining tasks, then maybe they wouldn’t have felt so tired all the time.
How does stress trigger you? Does it cause you to be angry or anxious? To shut down? To look for numbing mechanisms? What are some healthy mechanisms to managing stress instead? Working out, journaling, time alone or time with friends (whichever one fills my cup), and time spent outside are all ways that I manage my stress. As I said in the beginning, we all deal with stress on a daily basis. It’s just up to you to make sure you are going about in a healthy and resilient way!
Peace, Love, and Wellness,