When It Rains, It Pours

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Tips for coping with stress
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Life seems to have a tendency of piling everything on at once which can make it hard to cope. If you’re like me, this can lead to stress eating, lots of negative self-talk, and a host of other unhealthy behaviours. Here are my top five stress reduction techniques:

5. Write It Down

Writing things down can provide you with a positive outlet for your stress. You can also write the uncensored, unfiltered version of everything you are thinking and feeling without worrying about hurting anyone else’s feelings. Once you have let out the rant, you can start to calm down and figure out how to tackle the situation that is causing you stress. Research has shown that journal writing can help both physical and mental health by reducing stress, improving your mood, help boost your immune system, and help you withstand the future effects of stress.

4. Let Future You Worry about Future Problems

This is a technique I’ve been trying out recently. When I am stressed I can drive myself extra crazy by overthinking the situation and going around in circles with lots of “What Ifs?” and possible future conversations, consequences and outcomes. There is a difference between real stressors that you need to be concerned about and made up scenarios that add to the stress. Take some time to take stock of the situation and figure out what’s a real source of stress and what you’ve added to the list. With a lot of positive self-talk and some mindfulness, you can work towards letting future you worry about future, potential problems.

3. Exercisewalking-is-the-best-medicine

Exercise helps to reduce stress hormones in your body (adrenaline and cortisol) and increases your endorphins (the hormones
that give you that high). Endorphins give you a feeling of relaxation and optimism. It doesn’t have to be a hard workout but going for a nice walk or going to the gym can help to clear your mind.

2. “Nevertheless”

This is also a new technique that I’ve been trying out. I have always found affirmations to sound a little cheesy and too “sunshine and rainbows” for me. I tend to get caught in a very negative thought cycle when I’m very stressed out or things are not going well. I’ve found that “nevertheless statements” help me acknowledge the negative experience I’m having but also reach for some positive self-talk. For example: “I just got in trouble with my boss, nevertheless, I am a dedicated employee and I am doing the best I can”.

1. Self Compassion and Meditation

Self compassionb9d15bb76870b6c35252a18371f5931d has been one of the most life changing tools I have learned about over the last year. Self compassion is the concept that you show yourself the loving kindness you would show a friend in a similar situation – often we are our own worst critics. Dr. Kristin Neff has a number of resources and meditation tracks on her website. I’ve found the most helpful one for when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed is the “Soften, Soothe, Allow” recording. It provides you with permission to feel every negative feeling you are experiencing for 15 minutes, combined with self compassion. Allowing it to all come out and to comfort yourself instead of trying to squash it down has helped me get through many difficult days. Her book was extremely life changing and I strongly recommend it.

Build Your ToolKit

After you have gone through a particularly stressful time, I recommend you take some time to reflect:

  1. What helped you cope?
  2. What default negative health behaviours did you reach for?
  3. What has helped you cope other times?
  4. Plan for next time, write down a concrete list of things you can do to cope.

Try practicing these coping skills when you are not stressed out. Try a variety of things – these are all extra tools in the toolbox. It’s not helpful if you only have sledgehammers in your toolbox when you get to a situation and find you actually need a screw driver. Let us know what coping skills work for you!

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