If you are feeling totally overwhelmed by events lately, you are not alone. We’re hearing from more and more Members that their stress level is higher than ever. The times we are living in are indeed difficult.
But there are solutions.
The first step in this journey is to learn techniques to control and manage the stress that we feel. Here are some ideas for controlling the stress that you may be experiencing.
- Limit your exposure to the news. Some of us are old enough to remember when we got our news in short spurts in the morning and evening in half-hour TV bursts at set times. Today, news is 24/7/365. We get pinged by alerts on our smarts phones. Even social media, which began as a way to stay connected to family and friends, is now inundating us with news. Ration your exposure. Block out set times to catch up. And you might even try having ‘news vacation’ days every now and again.
- Find the helpers. That’s a bit of advice we learned from Mr. Rogers, who told us that when bad things happen, we should look for the helpers. The good people. The kind people. They are always there, sometimes on the sidelines. No matter what discouraging things we see in the news, there are more good people than bad. Some immediately think of nurses and doctors, and the first responders but it might be your neighbor or a co-worker. When life is tough, find the helpers and you’ll know that there’s hope.
- Spend time with the people who mean the most to you. Prioritize time with your loved ones, the ones who make you laugh, the ones who listen to you, who help you relax.
- Stick to healthful habits. When things are stressful, it can be all too easy to try to find relief by turning to unhelpful “comfort” methods like smoking, alcohol, pills, or overeating – things that actually exacerbate the problem rather than help it. Healthy eating and good sleep routines can be restorative, both physically and mentally.
- Exercise! Burn off negative energy and stress with fitness activities that you enjoy and that can release endorphins. You can lose yourself and feel stress melt away in a good run, a swim, or a bike ride. Plus, there’s the added benefit of improving your health and your self-esteem.
- Be kind. Perform random acts of unexpected kindness for strangers. Thank people every day for big things and small. Say something kind to your colleagues, your friends, or a family member.
- Let yourself laugh. Sometimes when everything is terrible and we are surrounded by suffering, it can feel wrong or selfish to laugh or have fun. The writer Saul Bellow once said “Don’t marry suffering.” Laughter is healing.
- Spend time in quality ways/relax. Immerse yourself in the beauty and calming presence of nature through walks or hikes. Read a book, listen to music, or engage in activities that require immersion and focus.
- Find a way to contribute. If world events make you feel sad or bad, find a way to volunteer for a cause. Make a donation. Help an elderly neighbor or relative.
- Focus on the positive. Be grateful. Smell the flowers. Savor the chocolate. Notice life’s simple pleasures.
Remember: Your EAP is here to help
If things seem to be too much, keep the EAP number handy. We’re available 24-7-365! You can get telephonic counseling from clinical professionals to help you learn to manage stress or deal with any other problems that you might face.