Well In Mind Self-Care Tip of the Week

Coping with Chronic Stress

The past two years we were thrown right into fight, flight, or freeze mode. There was tremendous fear and uncertainty. Then, after some time, whether or not we liked it, we settled into the closures and new social norms. Right now, two years later, it is safe to say we’re contending with ongoing and severe chronic stress.  So, what are we to do?

  1. Practice awareness of your breathing.  Noticing the gentle rise and fall of our natural breathing has a way of both filling us and comforting us.
  2. Take deep breaths.  Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is taking intentional, longer, and fuller breaths all the way down to our abdomen. In doing this, we inhibit our body’s stress response and engage in a calming response.
  3. Exercise. This is one well-proven way to work through the buildup of ongoing stress.
  4. Create perspective. Using the word “and” during this time can help us acknowledge both the painful realities and recognize that there is more happening beyond the pain.
  5. Practice kindness. Performing acts of kindness has been shown to help with stress and increase feelings of happiness.
  6. Adhere to a schedule. Try and create a rhythm for yourself (and your children if you have them living with you). It helps create a sense of predictability and control, which we all need.
  7. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day (yes, even on weekends) is shown to benefit not only the quality of our sleep but also our mental well-being.
  8. Lead with self-compassion.  No one functions optimally under conditions of chronic stress—including you. As the world has had to readjust its own expectations, please readjust the expectations you have of yourself.