This year has certainly been an eventful one, and not in a good way! Turn the news on, go to your Facebook feed and it can feel as though “no news is good news”. The world seems unstable and unpredictable. So it is no surprise that many people are feeling stressed, worried or down.
Nobody wants to feel stressed and often we fight back against the feeling. Yet stress is actually our body’s natural response to demands or threats and fighting against it rarely works.
While stress is natural and universal our response to it can make things better or worse for us. So, if you are feeling more stressed than usual here are some things you may like to try out:
1) Be compassionate to yourself – If you notice yourself feeling stressed remember that this is a normal and natural response. It is your brain’s way of trying to solve your problems and keep you safe. So don’t be hard on yourself for being stressed. Rather, acknowledge your stress and ask yourself if it is telling you anything useful. For example, do you need to exercise more, or get to bed on time? If on the other hand the stress is not telling you anything worthwhile then shift your focus from the stress onto something else. Find something meaningful or enjoyable to do and engage in that. This wont stop the stress but it does help it to sit in the background while you do something more productive than ruminating with your time.
2) Be a curator of the news – don’t consume every and any piece of news that comes your way. Choose one or two reputable news sources and consume their news reports only. Limit the amount of time you spend watching or reading the news and only consume information that is actually going to be useful. For example, informing yourself of current Covid-related restrictions in your state. Consuming too much news can put your brain into a state of high alert. So be mindful of how much time you spend watching and reading the news and about what sources you are going to.
3) Exert the control you do have – there is plenty that is out of our control and sometimes we can get stuck lamenting the uncontrollable and lose sight of what we can control. There is still plenty within our control. For example we can’t control what anyone else does, but we can make choices about our own health and activities. We can control whether we go for a walk or not, whether we pick up a hobby or not or read that book we’ve been wanting to read for ages but not had time to read.
4) Ground yourself in the present – again, at a time like this our minds can conjure up all kinds of frightening futures for ourselves. Be sensible and take reasonable steps to protect your health and future, but beyond that notice what you have right now. The brain, in its attempt to protect you, can become overly focused on what you may lose and fail to notice what you have right here, right now. So take time to notice what you do have and savor and engage with that.
Finally, remember that if you are so stressed that you are finding it difficult to function then please talk to your GP or local psychologist.
We are in a time of uncertainty and the world can feel as though it is out of control but remember that “this too shall pass”.