If you’re like me, you probably have some go-to strategies for dealing with stress in your life. These may be coping skills or activities that help you slow down, relax, and take a break from life’s many pressures and expectations.
I like to call this my stress-busting toolbox.
It allows me to keep my stress under control, or under lock and key, if you will.
So the question is,
Why do I still experience stress sometimes?
Stress particularly shows up in my life as a delibitating pain in the pit of my stomach (colloquially referred to in my family as the “stress tummy”).
It’s familiar. It’s tangible. It’s unwelcome.
When I think about it, most of the stress that I experience can be traced back to the feeling that I’m not in control.
I feel in control when I feel my life is balanced. When that balance starts to slip, I feel myself starting to panic. My stress-busting tool box mysteriously goes missing. I stumble for one second, and my tummy is being attacked from every angle by stress.
When I am not stressed, I feel I can control my mealtimes, my study habits, and my self-care routines. However, these very things become challenging when stress builds, and often it feels like the stress itself comes out of nowhere.
Recently, I was studying under a tree on a beautiful autumn day when a piece of acorn landed in the fan of my brand new laptop. Unexpectedly, this caused my laptop to overheat, which led me to dramatically change my plans the next day to accommodate the necessary diagnostics and repairs.
WABAM! “Stress Tummy” Strikes Again
When these unplanned occurrences happen (often in combination with a loss of something, technology failing, or something breaking) I tend to quickly fall victim to the “stress tummy”.
Some of the remedies I have developed to help me deal with the “stress tummy” in my tool box are: the Magical Medicine of Movement, afternoon napping, drinking (caffeine-free) tea, and partaking in some mindful breathing exercises.
But I’ve noticed that sometimes it is not enough to be reactive. Sometimes I have to be proactive in preventing myself from the “stress tummy”.
Here are some of the ways I work to defend against the “stress tummy” from striking in the first place:
Paying attention to the things I can control
My dental hygiene
Waking up before the neighbourhood garbage truck wakes me up
Filling up my water bottle at the water bottle refill stations on campus
When I shift my focus to these small, seemingly trivial accomplishments I feel like I am in control of the going ons in my life. The idea is to celebrate the small victories, and allow the focus to shift to what is going RIGHT in my life (and there is always something if I think hard enough!) as opposed to what is NOT.
By giving myself permission to focus on the things that I can control, I can dramatically reduce the amount of stress I expose myself to.
Last but not not least, I try my very best to find joy in the spontaneous or the unplanned—the joyful, unscheduled solo dance parties that take place in my bedroom, for example.
Stress is def not invited.
Wishing you a stress-free week,
What does your stress-busting toolbox contain? Comment below!