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Stress: Managing the things I cannot change

This has been quite a year so far. I am feeling overwhelmed, how about you? This week we celebrated our son's graduation, what an enormous milestone! Emotions running so high and honestly so many conflicting feelings. It is also test/exam week for the other two and the usual end of year madness. I am forgetting so many small things and become reliant on my calendar to tell me what is next. I have been trying very hard to let go of what I cannot control practising boundaries and saying no. Basically I am trying very hard to hold it all together but I do frequently feel like I am falling apart.

I made a conscious decision to be a little more personal today because my feelings are at a point of bursting and I know I am not alone. So much is happening in the world, so much drama, so much trauma. Most of you know we have had a challenging year and we still in a place with circumstances beyond our control watching people we love deeply suffer an unfathomable amount. It is unbearable to simply write about but I know many of you have had or are going through your own challenges. We need to sometimes just be honest with our feelings and accept our struggles, taking one step in front of the other.

Today I wanted to share some writings I found helpful, as always I do a lot of reading, listening and thinking about what I am feeling and how to channel it constructively. These tips on managing stress were different from the standard and I liked them, they resonated with me and maybe with you too.

  1. Determine what you can control, this we have discussed before. Manage the things you can, it is not only more effective but it will make you feel constructive and purposeful in a time when you feel out of your comfort zone. Keep a routine, focus on your health and make constructive changes if you need to, do positive exercises like a gratitude journal.

  2. Identify you fears. Sometimes I find acknowledging the "worst" that can happen and processing it you realise it is not the end of the world. Remember this is what builds resilience. It may be unfortunately through the worst of times, but it will make you stronger.

  3. Concentrate on your influence. This is the part where you can make a difference, do the things you can to make the outcome less difficult. Control your own behaviour and take responsibility when you make mistakes too. It is hard to do this but taking control of what you put out in the world will make you feel so much better.

  4. Differentiate between ruminating and problem-solving. Replaying worst case scenarios, bad conversations and catastrophic outcomes is not helpful - in any way. So ask yourself what it is you are doing, are you ruminating or are you seeking a better way. Acknowledge the negative thoughts are not help, re-focus and channel into the positive or productive. This is training your brain and trying to reset the default.

  5. Create a stress management plan. This is always helpful when you know challenging times are ahead. Focus on exercise, eating healthy, feeling positive about your actions to yourself, staying connected to people (even if you feel yourself pulling away) and very importantly get good sleep. These are all known stress relievers. Stay vigilant of unhealthy behaviours or stress such as drinking, too much TV or social media and your behaviour around others when you agitated. Stay mindful and you will see a change.

  6. Develop healthy affirmations. Negative talk and spiralling in self doubt is not helpful. Sometimes you have to print or write positive affirmations down somewhere seen and say it to yourself throughout the day. With regular practice you can train yourself to think differently, positively.

I started writing this feeling a little a mess. Just the action of sharing my experience has helped me feel a bit stronger, for a bit longer.

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