Stress. How do we live with it?

We all live with stress in this crazy world. There’s childhood stress, teenage stress, young married life stress, stress as a mom, stress at work, and stress in our relationships or in a long term marriage. At each stage of our lives we encounter stressors that can make day to day living a bit harder than normal.

The most recent stressor that the whole world has been experiencing is the pandemic. It’s been about a year now of working remotely, connecting with people on zoom and limiting face to face connection. This has impacted everyone immensely. It’s even been very difficult and sometimes impossible to travel whether it’s in country or overseas. So seeing family in another state or region is next to impossible.

Realizing that people everywhere are dealing with the stresses of the pandemic has made me think more deeply about how stress over the years has impacted me. In my teenage years I had panic and anxiety attacks in high school. In my 20’s I released stress through tears. I saw stress my 30’s in night terrors, panic attacks, depression and anxiety. In my 40’s anxiety attacks, acid reflux, terrible headaches, digestive issues, depression and anxiety. I’m turning 50 in March so I have nothing yet for the 50’s.

As I looked at the ways stress played itself out in my life over the years, I see that the physical effects increased.

So what do we do with all of the stress we have in our lives? How do we cope with stressful situations that come at us unexpectedly?

Here are some things I’ve found helpful to do to relieve stress.

1. Journal daily. Even if it’s a paragraph. Write out how you are doing and how you’re feeling.

2. See a therapist or counselor. Talk to someone who is trained in helping others with the challenges they are facing.

3. Take a walk. Long walks in the morning and evening have been extremely therapeutic for me. I tend to walk my dog and listen to music that will lift my spirit.

4. Connect with a friend. Even if it’s over the phone or online. We need interaction with others who can relate to how we are feeling.

My encouragement to you today is to take a stress inventory. Look at the decades of your life. Write down some stressors you remember and ways those stressful things impacted you physically. Then think of things that relieve stress for you. Make sure you put them into your schedule on a daily basis. As you may know already, self care is really important. Let’s be proactive in caring for ourselves so we will live happier and fuller lives today and in the days to come.

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