Stress is inevitable for all of us and it can come from various areas of our lives. You may have pressure at work, relationship problems, or financial deadlines that feel like they are crushing you. There is no denying the mental, physical, and emotional toll stress can have on our mind, body and heart.
Pressure in our lives can put us in “flight or fight” mode where we feel anxious and out of control when faced with stressful situations. In those situations it is helpful to accept that we cannot control distressing circumstances happening to us. What is in our power is how we cope with them.
There are so many ways to handle stress and the three I am going to share are by no means an exhaustive list. They are, however, an opportunity for you to start using them to reduce the toxic affect stress is can have on you and your life.
The three coping mechanisms are practicing gratitude, being aware of the people in your life, and spending time outside.
When faced with an overwhelming circumstance it is easy to get tunnel vision and only focus on that one thing. One way you can cope with stressful situations is reminding yourself of people and areas of your life that you are thankful for. This is not easy when you feel like you can’t catch a break, but it can bring your focus and energy towards the positive aspects in your life.
Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal in order to make it a part of their daily routine. Others will make a list in their note’s app or simply say them in their mind. This doesn’t take much time. And it can help ground you in the positives in your life instead of constantly being consumed by only the stressful areas.
Example of a gratitude list:
- Family dinners
- The ability to feel emotions
- Relationships (write down names)
- Cuddling with my dog
- Car to drive
The list can be as simple as the example above. This will help you reflect and put your attention on positive aspects in your life that may be taken for granted on a daily basis.
Groups of people
Another way you can cope with stress in your life is by being aware of the people you surround yourself with. Are the groups of people in your life building you up or draining your energy? It’s important to identify individuals who are uplifting and that you can count on in difficult times. In stressful moments, a healthy relationship can be a breath of fresh air. A toxic or draining relationship can be…toxic and draining.
If you feel that you do not have people in your life who are rejuvenating, it might be time to find a new community. There are a couple ways you could do this: join a new club or organization, get involved in a Church group, or volunteer. This can help you expand your horizons and find like minded individuals.
Getting outdoors can both decrease your heart rate and lower your stress-hormone, cortisol. This can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood or going on a bike ride at your nearest park. Being outside or in nature can help focus your senses on different sources of energy.
Think about places you have been that have had natural beauty. Think of vacations, walks by water, sitting on beaches and watching the waves. God designed us to reset and relax when we experience the beauty of His creation. It’s how we are designed.
For example, you could focus on different trees or flowers, the sound of the birds chirping, or watching the sunset or rise. Our mind and soul benefit from a relationship with nature and it helps us take a step back from life’s fast paced tempo. The more consistently you use these three coping strategies the more impact they will consistently have on your life.
If you would like to connect and find out more ways to cope with stress and the overwhelm and anxiety that often accompanies it then please reach out. We would consider it a privilege to walk alongside you in discovering how to cope with stress, heal wounds and accomplish your goals.
You can reach us at (405) 921-7776 or on the web at NewVisionCounseling.org. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Written by Darby Hargrove and Shawn Maguire, LPC. Shawn owns New Vision Counseling and Consulting and has trained a team of therapists who help their clients achieve life changing results. Because of the incredible results they help clients achieve they are currently the top rated and reviewed counseling practice in the state of Oklahoma.