2017 has thrown a lot of challenges my way. Not only do I have the stress many of us are feeling about the current American political system, but I have had some personal challenges as well. My husband and my work both increased which is great, but we were not practicing selfcare resulting in tension and burnout. My body is at an age where it is going through changes causing my mental and emotional states to be in flux. Two major stressors for anyone – moving and having an ill loved-one – were thrown in for good measure. Plus, Tropical Storm Lidia came to visit causing chaos during and after the rain.
It was a struggle to stay centered. I was displaced physically and unsettled emotionally. My heart bled for those locally affected by the storm, those in Southern Mexico affected by the earthquake, and everyone affected by this year’s major hurricanes and mudslides. Things were not business as usual, and when things are not consistent, our mind triggers the stress response.
Initially, I reached for quick-fix feel-good bandages. Having a glass of wine with the friends who allowed us to stay at their house after where we were staying filled with water, was a good ritual to feel “normal” and safe. Having a guilty-pleasure food or drink during a stressful event is ok, not ideal, but if that is what can help the heart rate slow down and bring mental clarity then it is perfect for that moment. But these are bandages, not fixes. They are not meant to be long term tools as they really don’t fix the problem.
After a bandage or two, I returned to my toolbox of stress hacks for real relief. I controlled my breathing. I walked to clear my mind. I stopped feeding myself negative stories. Instead of tormenting myself over what I could not control, I focused on acting upon what I could. I released my desire for outcome. I returned to the moment turning off the negative replay of the past or my scary projection of what could happen next. I embraced patience.
I remember back in the days of my overwhelming stress, how I made bandages a daily practice. Coffee to get me moving in the morning. Food that felt like a reward in the moment but caused major digestive issues afterwards. Hiding in an adult beverage instead of addressing issues. Losing myself in hours of mindless television. Bandages are supposed to keep our wounds safe while we heal, but stress bandages keep us trapped, not allowing us to heal. They too easily become addictions or ways of life that stop providing relief and instead become a problem of their own.
If you are ready to release bandages which are harming more than helping, join us this Wednesday to learn how to create an easy daily practice to help keep you from swirling into the chaos of constant stress and reaching for a harmful bandage. Take the first step of walking away from unhealthy bandages and begin to embrace practices which will truly make a difference to your stress level. Sign up for the free Making Time for Stress Relief webinar here.