First, it’s important to acknowledge when you (or people you love) are experiencing extra stress, whether financial, health, relationship or job-related stress, or uncertainty about the future. We need to become more aware of how stress is affecting attitudes, communications, health and quality of life. Then we have to take personal responsibility, realizing that our moment-to-moment choices do count. They create a map of which emotional roads we will travel on each day and what their destination is.
The process of managing stress isn’t the same for everyone, because of different situations and differences in individual makeup. Yet, there are simple, effective steps any of us can take.
Steps to take:
The rapid changes occurring in the world are going to continue and they affect all of us. Have compassion for yourself and others trying to adjust to unexpected changes. As we take steps to reduce stress wherever we can, it adds strength and clarity for sorting our way through more difficult challenges. Practice these tips and encourage your loved ones to practice them too. Download these and other tips in De-Stress Kit for Changing Times booklet, by HeartMath founder Doc Childre.
Tip 3 – Manage Your Reactions to the News
Watching the news can easily trigger feelings of stress. Continuously amping-up anger, anxiety or fear releases excessive levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenalin, throughout your body. The long-play version of this can cause a cascade of physical health symptoms, along with potential mental and emotional imbalances. Practice reducing your internal drama as you watch the news or even turn the news off at times. The energy saved helps restore balance, clarity and positive initiative. Take care not to judge yourself if you slip backwards into drama at times. It’s okay. We all do. Just reinstate your heart commitment to practice, and then move on. Each small effort you make really helps.
Tip 4 – Communicate and Interact with Others
When a major crisis happens (or a sequence of crises), our stress tolerance level depletes from the shock and emotional pain. We become overwhelmed, which inhibits our capacity to cope. Yet, it’s completely understandable why we would feel the way we do. Be encouraged that you can create a psychological turnaround along the way and increase your ability to cope effectively—especially if you work through your challenges with others. One of the most important things you can do is to communicate your feelings to someone, or to a group of people, going through similar experiences. Then engage in caring about them and offering emotional support. This especially helps to reopen the heart, which increases your fortitude and emotional balance. Whether you laugh together or cry together, there is often tremendous beneficial release.
When people gather to support each other, the energy of the collective whole multiplies the benefit to the individual. It’s known that collective energetic cooperation can increase intuitive guidance and effective solutions for problems at hand. When a group of people are “in their hearts,” and not just their minds, the collective support helps to lift their spirits, which in turn releases stress buildup and anxiety overload. When the heart reopens, self-security and confidence can gradually return. Be patient with the process and have compassion. Even small acts of kindness and compassion can make a big difference. This is one of the quickest ways to reestablish your footing and reduce the stress that could otherwise affect your health.
Tip 5 – Reduce Comparing the Present with the Past
In times of change, one of the hardest things for any of us is to stop comparing the way life was before with how it is now. That’s really okay and understandable. The time it takes to recover from a major loss can be different for all of us – and time can’t be forced because healing heartache doesn’t respond to schedules or agendas. Be comfortable with your own timing, however long it takes.
With compassion and patience for yourself, make a genuine heart commitment to practice recognizing some of your thoughts and feelings of comparison with the past. As you become aware of those thought loops and feel your energy down-spiraling, realize that it’s normal to have these thoughts and feelings. Yet know that constant comparison can drain and repress your spirit, which you need at this time to re-stabilize and move forward. Then, in an easygoing way without force, choose something to focus on that doesn’t cause as much pain and energy drain. You can practice switching your focus to another subject matter or change what you’re doing in the moment if your situation allows it. You can also replace the thoughts with appreciation
for someone you care about in the present. Of course this is easier at certain times than at others. With practice you will be able to recognize the thoughts and feelings that bring you down and shift your focus to something that doesn’t leave you with negative or depressed feelings. When this is done from the heart and not just the mind, then you are transforming feelings—not repressing them.
Emotional self-maintenance is an important part of the recovery process. We can save lots of energy with this practice and it can be especially helpful in preventing or softening some of the normal depression that accompanies an emotional setback. With self-compassion and patience, you can emerge from the depths of challenging times with more confidence, especially if you connect with the strength that comes from truly putting your heart into the intention to move forward. When you approach your situation with humility and genuine care, it activates the power of your heart, which quickens your recovery and re-stabilization.
The Opportunity Ahead
The global community is being called on to shift from the pursuit of self-gain at the expense of others to a more balanced system of care for the rights and needs of all people which would reduce and relieve tremendous stress. Systems and societies have veered far from the heart and the core values of cooperation, fairness, and care for one another and the whole. This has created tremendous stress, but also new opportunity for things that have been turned upside down to become right-side up. We can all make progress in reducing personal and collective stress, yet we have to play an active part in it. It all starts with our own emotional self-management to reduce our own stress, and opening our heart to increased cooperation, care and discernment going forward.