Managing Stress in Stressful Times

by Karla Mans Giroux
Guest Blogger

Let’s get the bad news out of the way…75-90% of all primary care visits are for stress-related conditions. According to WebMed, stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

If you are nervous, anxious, having trouble sleeping, gaining weight these are all normal reactions to stress. Normal, yes. But desirable? No

Since you can’t eliminate all stress in your life, having healthy ways to cope with it is important. So here is the good news, learning stress management techniques is easier than you might think.

We know that things like eating healthy well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, meditating, and talking to others, or to a professional can help your stress. If you feel like a glass of wine or a couple of beers in the evening is helping you deal with stress, think again. Drinking alcohol can create additional problems and increase the stress you already have.

Let’s explore some of my favorite ways to get into the relaxation, or “rest and repair” mode.

Radical Self Care
Taking care of yourself, or what I like to call radical self-care, is something women often struggle with. If you are a caregiver to family members of any age you may often put their needs before your own. Remember the warning, put your oxygen mask on first…! It first requires that you “be kind to YOU.” Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Yourself, suggests that in Western culture, we are taught “to be kind to our friends, family, and neighbors who are struggling. Not so when it comes to ourselves.” She says that self-kindness means that we stop the constant self-judgment and ACTIVELY comfort ourselves. With self-kindness, we soothe and calm our troubled minds.

Take a Break
Taking a break when you notice the stress and overwhelm creeping in is vital. If you can’t walk away at that moment take several breaths. By using deep breathing, actually feeling your belly expand and contract, you are engaging the relaxation response which is what puts you into rest and repair mode. When you walk away, engage in something relaxing even just for 5 minutes, do calisthenics, go outside or look at nature (out the window or online…it’s still relaxing), play with your four-legged friends, anything that will interrupt that cycle of stress.

Breakup with Busy
We seem to be a society that feels “busy” is a badge of honor. Not so! Choose to use statements like “I have a full life” instead of “I am so busy.” Tell yourself you have all the time you need today to do what’s important. This strategy is to get the positive self-talk going so that your monkey mind doesn’t take you on a stress-around-the-world trip!

Find White Space
Another strategy I teach is to make “white space” on your calendar. When I used to look at my calendar and see empty space, I would find something to fill it. Now I schedule empty space into my week! I use that “white space” to do nothing – literally nothing! Stare out the window, look at clouds, meditate, pray, just make sure it’s really restorative. Do not do chores or unnecessary things. Essentially you want to think of this time as “being” time, not “doing” time!

Set – and Keep – Boundaries
Setting boundaries is important in supporting your new radical self-care practice. Do not allow others to take over your “white space”/”me” time – you are worth keeping that time sacred.

Karla Mans Giroux, KMG Holistic Cancer Coaching
Holistic Cancer Coach, Radical Remission Coach and cancer thriver. /

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