Does the news about our struggling economy leave you anxious? Are national budget battles stressing you out? You are not alone.
More and more Americans are working longer hours, having to provide for their families with fewer resources, and making tough decisions about money.
In today’s blog post, Kimberlee Moster, LPC, a senior psychotherapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Services, provides some insight into coping with stress and change.
So, how do we learn to cope with these stressors that we often cannot change? The answer is to develop emotional resiliency. Resiliency is about building your capacity to be able to deal with life’s challenges, major changes, pressures, and stress. It’s not about being naively positive, but rather being able to accurately assess a situation and know how much attention you need to devote to it. It’s also about giving yourself time to recuperate after a challenging situation has passed.
Resilient people have the following characteristics: 1) They “don’t sweat the small stuff.” 2) They are able to be at their best and maintain a sense of balance when faced with “big stuff” or major challenges. 3) They are flexible but durable and have a better ability to “go with the flow,” and 4) They come back stronger in the face of adversity.
So, how do you get to be one of the more resilient folks in the face of stress and change? First of all, it is important to put things into perspective. When faced with an adverse situation, ask yourself, “is this a decrease in what I can spend on new clothes, or not being able to pay the mortgage?” If the budget crisis is over new clothes, then save yourself the energy of dwelling over it and look at it differently. Look at other situations in your life or in the world and decide if you are being rational or overreacting. Think back to a time when you were successful at overcoming an adverse situation; know if you made it through that, you can make it through whatever is before you.
Another step toward emotional resiliency is getting rid of self-defeating thoughts.
Self-defeating thoughts and words stop you and keep you from moving past life’s challenges. So, change your dialogue to yourself and you may just change your outcomes.
Practicing acts of kindness and gratitude for no particular reason will also help you to appreciate what you do have in your life. You may have more blessings than you realize, and being thankful for the little things can make a big difference (electricity, food, work, family).
Finally, learning to live in the present moment is a skill developed by truly resilient people. Let go of dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. Learn to live a life without regrets. When was the last time you connected with a friend, or family member and really let yourself be present to the meaning they have in your life? When was the last time you just enjoyed the rain rather than grabbing for the umbrella? We are human beings, not human doings, yet we go through life doing one thing after another.
So when you’re faced with stress and change in your life, slow down, give yourself a break, be present and grateful for new challenges and life lessons learned. Put things into perspective and have humor, as it is always the most challenging parts of life where we find we have the most growth.
Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options in a caring, confidential environment. If you find you may be struggling with stress that is causing significant physical or emotional impairment in your life, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.