January has always been a time for us to sit down and write out goals and dreams for a new year. How do you do that when you’re still stressed and overwhelmed from the year before and we’re still navigating a pandemic? It feels almost impossible and yet we still have some hope, because we know it can be better! With the ongoing pandemic, I’m bringing you some new tips on how to handle stress, that are actually doable!
*One point I want to make is the difference between stress and anxiety. While they both often end up in the same conversation, they are not the same. Stress is a symptom that can lead to or build up in the form of anxiety. As you work on stressors in your life, you may still be working through anxiety and that is okay.
Tip One | Find a Therapist
Let’s talk about this tip first. When society talks about therapy we talk about it in a way where we always think, “oh, I’m doing okay”. You probably are! However, therapy is to help make sure you stay there. My tip is to start therapy if you aren’t already in it, don’t wait until you’re so stressed and overwhelmed, start NOW. I will vouch for therapy until the day I die. In my sessions, we talk about all of the things that are causing anxiety for me, and 95% of the time, it’s a stressor that I have to tackle. We’re able to talk about the stress and we talk through the ways I can cut out the stress or help to diminish it. THERAPY IS FOR EVERYONE AND ANYONE! Check out Better Help for more information on finding a therapist that fits you.
Tip Two | Find your Peace
What if, instead of writing out goals and dreams, we wrote out what brings us joy and what brings us peace? I think we should always be talking about our goals and our dreams, but we don’t always talk about what brings us joy. One way that I can handle challenges and difficult situations in my life is by reminding myself where I find peace. Perhaps it’s going over to my parents to spend time with them. It could be going for a walk on MSU’s campus or going to Mackinac Island for a day. I try to make sure I have areas that bring me peace that does not cost me a lot of money. When I can’t afford or take time off to go to Mackinac Island, there are other places and things I can do where my heart can be still, knowing them ahead of time can help you alleviate some stress since you know where to go to find your peace.
Tip Three | Share your Joys
You have now written out where you find peace and what brings you joy. Now what? SHARE THEM! Talk about it with family and friends. The people who support you. When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and like you can’t handle the situation in front of you, your team will know what helps you. It’s your toolkit. They can help remind you to take some time for yourself when you put the kids to bed. Or they can help make dinner when you just need a break to not think. Taking time for self-care is important. Check out this conversation Deonne had with other moms on how they prioritize self-care!
Tip Four | Cut the Stress Out
This may be easier said than done and it may also not be possible depending on what the stressor is for you. Over the last two years, our society has focused on making sure you take care of yourself. That can mean removing things from your life that no longer bring you joy. Marie Kondo suggests you do that with tangible things in your home (I am not recommending Marie Kondo, but if that’s what you need, you do you!), but what about the experiences or people in your life who do not bring you joy?
An example I can use is breastfeeding. I was so excited to be able to breastfeed and I always told myself that if my body allowed me, and Lucy wanted to, that’s what we would do. I did not anticipate being consistently stressed about breastfeeding. That stress led to anxiety. I forgot to start the timer. We were supposed to start on the left side this time. How much is she eating? Around 7 weeks, I told Jared breastfeeding was causing me too much stress and I was constantly anxious. We made the decision to stop and switch to formula.
Not everyone can switch to formula, nor may your situation be easy to stop or cut off like breastfeeding to formula. But, I urge you to think about the job, experience, or person(s) that may be causing you stress and how you may be able to cut out the stressor or eliminate the frequency.