I wanted to sit down and write this post to share my thoughts on handling stress during crazy times because, let’s be honest these are crazy times. I’m not writing from the perspective of the expert with all the answers. Instead, I write from the perspective of a coach who is figuring it out WITH you instead of for you.
Right now, the world and all the people in it are going absolutely crazy. Our modern, comfortable lifestyle does not allow for the uncertainty and discomfort that this pandemic has brought us.
We are 21st century humans with expectations like safety, comfort, a certain level of ease, and a relative level of predictability. As a society we have come to expect these things in our daily life. We don’t know how to cope with our lives and our thoughts without knowing what’s going to happen next. We have built our society upon routines and procedures, and have become accustomed to the mundane but helpful nature of this predictability.
Why are we so stressed?
The stress many people are currently feeling comes from several things. First, we are social creatures and are looking to others to figure out how to feel about the events unfolding around us. If other people are LOSING THEIR SHIT, we naturally think, “so should I.”
Also, we have no idea what is going to happen next. Things like job security, childcare, education and the survival of many small businesses are entirely uncertain at the moment, which is really, really scary.
Additionally, when life is turned upside down like this there are a lot of things that are just out of whack. What that means for each person may vary from person to person depending on individual circumstances. These are legitimate causes for stress and concern.
But how do we handle all this stress?
The most important thing to remember is that most of this is completely out of our control. While this might be a scary thought for some, I want to encourage you to try seeking comfort from it instead- it is out of our hands, and stressing about it will help no one.
The focus needs to shift from what is out of our control to what is 100% within our control- our thoughts. The way we think about what is happening around us is completely within our control.
The way we think will determine the feelings and actions that result from our thoughts. It is important to remember that our thoughts can either help us or hurt us.
Accepting what is
A thought that will always serve you well is to accept what is at any given time, in any given moment. Accept that life is not always going to be comfortable and predictable. I’ve had many clients say to me, “I don’t understand why this is happening to me.” The important thing to understand is that nothing bad is happening to us, things are simply happening.
The sooner we can see the world around us for what is, rather than what we think it should be, the sooner we will find peace within ourselves.
We cannot change the events of the world. We cannot change the actions of others. We cannot change the awful things that are happening around us. What we can do is accept and appreciate what we do have.
Gratitude can help
I want to encourage you to consider a perspective of gratitude. I know not everyone is ready to hear this, but there are many good things that can come from every bad situation. This is ALWAYS true.
Ask yourself, what is good about your situation right now?
Our brains have a tendency to look for the negative things happening around us (the negativity bias). This comes naturally and doesn’t take a lot of work. What does not come naturally for many of us is a conscious focus on the positive- especially in trying times.
I challenge you to fight back against your evolutionary instinct to seek out negatives. Instead, find what could be your rainbow to this storm. What is it that you could be getting out of the current situation?
As life coach Brooke Castillo often says, “You have to give the good equal air time.” Equal air time! That means you can’t just sit around allowing yourself to be upset all the time. You must make an effort to not only find the good (or potential good). Also, allow yourself to think about it just as much as think about all the terrible things that are happening, or that could happen.
Develop a meditation practice
Lastly, I invite you to take up the practice of meditation or deepen your practice if you already meditate. Meditation is an excellent means of learning the art of acceptance and gratitude. It trains the brain to get out of the constant barrage of negativity that is happening in most people’s minds on an hourly basis.
Teach yourself to take up a more useful perspective so that you may go out into the world and be the best person you can be. The world needs you at your best to move forward as a society in the most positive way possible.
Go kick ass, and report back to let me know how it goes!