We’re good at coping with stress, even when we don’t think that we are. We deal with each little thing and push is aside in our minds, not noticing the toll it takes on us.
Someone asked me the other day: When did it happen? What event made me unable to get out of bed?
I proceeded to rattle off a list as long as I am tall of the stressful events that this person has endured over the last few years. “Oh…, right…, wow…” was the response.
We have to keep moving, going to work, paying the bills, taking care of the basic needs of ourselves and our families.
Which is the straw that breaks the camels back, that pushes us over the limit of what our bodies can handle? How do I avoid that one last stressor in a sea of stress?
The only way to move beyond simply coping with stress is to be aware of what is happening, and to take proactive measures.
Make it a practice to check in with how you feel everyday, and throughout the day. Notice how your body feels, how much tension is in your neck, back, shoulders, hips… What is happening in your mind, is it overworked? How is your mood, energy, sleep? What are you feeding yourself? Put a sticky note on your mirror or a reminder in your calendar that asks “How are you?”
Take action to improve each area that is less than optimal. Take a breath, get up and move or stretch, get a breath of fresh air, eat something healthy. And the often hardest of all – ask for help. Share with someone what you are dealing with and ask for help, not just ideas but actual help. Have someone take care of your kids or your parents for awhile. Ask them to cook a healthy meal, or take a walk with you.
Chronic stress weakens our immune systems making us more vulnerable to short term and long term illnesses.
In a world where we are bombarded with notions of idealistic perfection, it’s hard to just be a human who needs to take care of their health and wellbeing above all else. Do more than just cope. Be mindful of how you are, let some things go, and put your wellbeing at the top of your to do list everyday.