Picture this: it’s 2022. You are living through a pandemic that never seems to end, watching inflation reach all-time highs, and trying to maintain normalcy in a world that can’t seem to hold itself up. Adding daily challenges on top of this is a recipe for stress. In fact, it is completely normal to be experiencing above-average levels of stress in the current global climate. While feelings of stress are totally normal, they do inhibit our lives. It is important to be able to accomplish everyday tasks and cope with any kinds of anxiety. So how can we help ourselves overcome the stress we experience? Here are a few coping skills to combat stress.
1. Call loved ones.
When was the last time you called a close friend when you heard big news or felt something overwhelming? For most people, it happens often. We love to share positive news and experiences with the people we love, but it can feel a lot more challenging to share vulnerability. It is just as important to share the whole spectrum of emotions to create closer connections and foster trust and acceptance within your circle. Whether it is your family, friends, or trusted colleagues, reaching out to people can help us feel seen and heard. In fact, oftentimes the simple act of talking to someone you feel comfortable around can help to alleviate the isolating nature of stress. At the end of the day, we are social creatures, and humans help each other.
2. Take time to move your body.
Individually overcoming big feelings can be even scarier than reaching out for some people. It is hard to let emotions sit in your body. Movement is one of the most powerful tools to destress and clear your mind. Exercises like yoga or going for a walk can get your blood moving. Even simple, intentional motion like getting up from your desk or chair every few hours to walk around the room or go to the restroom can signal to your brain to stay energized. Whether you want to turn on a podcast and distract your mind or tune into your thoughts and get more clarity to help you understand the root of your anxieties, the opportunity to get physical will help you create space for your thoughts while you kickstart your exercise.
3. Remain conscious of your breathing patterns.
When humans get stressed, irregular breathing is one of the first symptoms. Your breaths get more shallow and rapid, which speeds up your heart rate to keep up. One of the most impactful things you can do to reign in your stress is to control your breathing. When your breath slows down, it signals to your body that it is time to relax, and your brain can focus better, your heartbeat slows down, and you clear out many of the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety.
4. Take breaks.
This may be the biggest skill to prevent stress in the first place. Taking breaks allows your mind and body to catch up and feel ready to tackle whatever tasks lie before you. Anxiety is a symptom of a serotonin deficiency, so a break can provide an opportunity to explore some of the ways to naturally increase serotonin. Eating some nutrient dense snacks, spending time in natural light, and scheduling a massage or other time for self care are a few methods proven to boost your brain’s serotonin production. Especially when consuming media for much of the day, breaks can be helpful for keeping your mind clear and conscious. It can be so easy to slip into the world of the internet or social media and completely lose sight of your own life. The news can also be a major stressor for people in these times. Taking the chance to relax and have a break with yourself is a great way to stay prepared to handle your own complex feelings, and not fall behind on self care.
Most importantly, you have to take care of yourself. No matter how confusing or upsetting the rest of the world is, one of the best coping skills to combat stress is self care. That can take any form, as long as it feels rejuvenating and centering.