Let’s face it: Life can be stressful. Work stress, kid stress, family stress, aging, moving, relationships, new job…all of these produce stress. Then life hits you with additional information: death, illness, financial insecurity, relationship breakup…and the list goes on. All of these, if not reduced by coping, can have a cumulative effect, not only on your mental health but your physical health as well. Our bodies have a natural stress response, meant to increase stamina and energy when required. However this stress response is not meant to be triggered on an ongoing basis. I firmly believe that when stress is not managed, it can manifest as physical illness and disease and therefore, implementing coping strategies is one of the best tools for better health that I know of.

It’s incredibly important to not only identify when you are feeling stressed but also identify the physiological changes that accompany that feeling. Increased heart rate, lethargy, low energy, lack of mental acuity,
problems sleeping, anxiety, confusion and headaches are just a few symptoms. Physically you may be feeling muscle tension, blurred vision, dizziness, stomach issues, high blood pressure, chest pains or sexual disinterest. If not managed, you could experience longer term depression, panic attacks, acne, chronic pain and frequent illness.

…and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Stress manifests in all of these ways, acting against our bodies to create and creating an environment that is perfect for disease. Stress reduces our immunity. Stress changes mental pathways. I believe stress could be the most significant wellness-barrier of our time.

Identifying coping strategies that work is as easy as paying attention to how you feel after a certain event or activity. Exercise, dancing, laughter, creative endeavors, outdoor activities and social outings are all methods of coping with stress that can result in an improvement in your overall feeling. For more prolonged periods of stress, it may be that you need lifestyle changes, a more supportive personal network or to take a break or vacation.

The goal of coping is to not only moderate your stress and resulting symptoms, but also to encourage a more healthy perspective. Ultimately all coping methods are working to change your view-point and build your resilience.

re·sil·ience

  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape

We need more resiliency. Our children do too. This is the parameter of the human psyche that will best determine future success. Those people who are thought to be more resilient, don’t often dwell on negative factors, are more proactive towards stress reduction techniques and often have a more positive outlook on life. Resilience is a commodity not often thought of, however it can be the determining factor in how we view our lives and how we cope with life’s ups and downs.

Developing resiliency can be as simple as practicing stress-reduction techniques, however it’s important to grow your self-awareness as well. Become more self-aware by paying attention to your perception (bias) of different situations and how or where you attribute responsibility in that situation. Increased self awareness combined with a better developed sense of resiliency will not only start to change your thinking, but have profound effects on your overall sense of wellness and ownership over your life.

So practice some self-care. Make time for those things that bring you joy. Build your resilience and add balance to your life.

XO

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