Six Steps to Handling Stressful Situations We Can’t Control

Six Steps to Handling Stressful Situations We Can’t Control

This year America has been in crisis mode!   With Hurricane Harvey and then Irma, the fires in the West coast, and the threats of nuclear war, I found the news to be extremely stressful!   Lucky for me, this onslaught of bad news came when I was able to handle it.   Years ago, I would have probably gotten overwhelmed and freaked out, and it would have effected my ability to work and sleep.

When the bad news just keeps coming, what is the best way to get through it and stay strong?  

1.  Accept what is happening

When the news is overwhelmingly bad, sometimes we go into denial.   Scientists have discovered that we often think we are being scientific, when we are actually rationalizing to justify our pre-existing beliefs.   But as in the case of global warming, or being prepared for appropriate emergencies in our area, denial can be dangerous.   

2. Accept your emotions

An important part of acceptance is being able to accept our emotions around what is happening.   There is so much societal pressure to “just be cool”, that most of us go to great lengths to deny our emotions. This results in addictions, or the emotions get trapped in our systems to add to our allostatic load (aka our stress response).   The increased stress response increases our risk of illness and irritability.   When we can accept our emotions, we no longer need to run away from the truth.

3.  Watch the worrying

worrying is stressfulIt is perfectly reasonable to worry about victims of hurricanes, global warming or nuclear war.   It shows that we are capable of empathizing, and the worrying does serve as an effective alarm signal in our brains.   If we pay attention to our worry, and choose to learn from it, then our emotions are serving a useful purpose.  But as Amy Morin says, we need to ask ourselves whether we are ruminating or problem solving.  If it is not serving a useful purpose, than we need to find ways to let it go.

4.  Practice mindfulness

A regular mindfulness practice helps you learn to watch and observe your emotions without judgment.   It enables to you to step back, see the bigger picture and let go of the story.

5.  Ask what can I control?

While we may not have any control over what is happening hundreds of miles away, we can control our response to it.   Use your concern to do something.   Volunteer to help, donate to those in need, take action to better prepare yourself for disasters or engage in activism. Taking action will help us appropriately channel our response, at least give us the comfort that we are doing what we can.   This also will help draw our attention to others that are also opening their hearts or standing up for their rights.   Being a part of a movement of volunteerism or activism will help restore our faith in humanity and the goodness that exists within us.

6.  Make time to regularly relieve stress

Life is stressful. Have an escape plan to relieve stress.

Somehow for most of my life, I’ve ended up in careers where I need to do far more than I can find time for. While I still work extremely hard, I’ve now become much more conscious of my limit. Now I take time to exercise every day, do yoga twice a week, and take a day off every week to spend time with my boyfriend and in nature.   I’ve realized the importance of working smarter, not harder, and it has made life infinitely more enjoyable and manageable.   I have finally realized that I don’t have to carry the stress with me wherever I go.  I have an escape plan, at least for time time I chose to let it go!

Do you tend to worry or ruminate? Do have a hard time letting go of stress?   Do you need a more balanced lifestyle?   If you are ready to let that stress go, consider working with me to release subconscious barriers. Using the wisdom of subconscious mind, we can quickly identify the root causes, and release them.   Contact me for your complimentary consultation!

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