We are in a place right now where stress seems inevitable. Faced with uncertainties, doubts, and insecurities, our perspective of the situation can place us in a perpetual state of ‘fight, or flight’. When stress becomes chronic, our bodies tip out of balance resulting in a number of various physical or psychological health consequences, from weight gain (particularly around the waist), sleep issues, depressive moods to exhaustion and fatigue.
For me, the amount of stress I experienced when I had my kids plus the transition from serving in the military to a stay-at-home mom, contributed to my body’s inability to process insulin optimally. The results were symptoms of insulin resistance to the point where my blood glucose levels were nearing pre-diabetic levels. One research I found showed that perceived stress is a strong risk factor for Type 2 diabetes in women (Link to research here).
What’s incredible about human beings is our innate ability to heal once we are conscious of the choices we make. With stress, it’s not necessarily the stress itself that is the problem, but our reactions to the stressor. We do have a choice and it boils down to these “4 A’s” – Avoid, Alter, Adapt, Accept – developed by the Mayo Clinic.
Ask yourself what is unnecessary stress in your life today? Have you been constantly watching the news?Can you avoid people who gives you a hard time? How about only committing to tasks that are most important to you instead of having a long list of things to-do?
If it’s not easy for you to avoid specific situations, then see if it’s possible for you to approach it in a different way by openly communicating your feelings. One strategy that I learned is applying the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) model to work out a compromise. NVC is about making an observation (instead of an evaluation), identifying feelings and needs (instead of thoughts and strategies), and a request (instead of demands). This way of communicating shows compassion and understanding that can evoke a positive response from another.
When it’s hard to change the stressor, can you change your expectations surrounding it? One way is to reframe an experience. Right now, many of us are going through a lockdown where it can be a source of stress for some. However, some people may view this as an opportunity to focus within.
As Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter said:
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Of course, there are inevitable stressful situations that we just have to learn to accept. Acknowledge your emotions, talk it out with a friend, and practice self-compassion. The serenity prayer speaks to me about acceptance.
Which of these 4 A’s can you use to relieve your stress today?
If you feel stuck or struggling to get started with your wellness goals, particularly during this challenging time, I would like to extend my support! You can send me an email – email@example.com or quickly fill out a Healthy Lifestyle Discovery form. Stay well 🙂