Stress. It’s what’s for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch. The stress of a pandemic + recession during a toxically divisive election year is a lot to process. And by the looks of our behavior, we aren’t coping well. The threat of a deadly virus and financial insecurity is pushing many of us to our boiling points. Managing heightened levels of stress is something I’ve studied my entire adult life. As a child of an abusive parent, hypervigilance was all I knew. Through therapy, I’ve learned How to Cope with Stress by Surfing the Moment. All things considered, I thought it might be helpful to share my techniques with you.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a while. –Including You.
How to Cope with Stress By Surfing the Moment
Imagine you’ve worked remotely all day (or if unemployed, incessantly searched online for opportunities), you homeschooled your kids, assembled multiple breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, washed an absurd number of dishes, folded laundry, made a grocery run, disinfected said groceries, cooked dinner, and then absorbed the evening news. Someone in your family says something you perceive as insensitive, another leaves their dirty dish on the counter, and yet another pees on the toilet seat — leaving it all for you to clean. Reactively stressed yet?
Our bodies produce cortisol when we’re stressed. Current societal circumstances have thrust many of us into a persistent release of cortisol. These heightened levels can cause weight gain, suppressed immune systems, as well as gastrointestinal, heart, and infertility issues. So how do we cope with stress before it severely impacts our health and well-being?
Surf the moment
When frustration and anger is boiling over and we’re fighting back the urge to scream, “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?” — we need to retreat and focus on calming our senses. –All five of them.
Grab paper + pen or print the list below. Now, write your favorite accessible sensory soothers for vision, sound, taste, smell, and touch.
For example, my favorite sensory soothers are:
- Vision • Gazing at the hills behind our home brings me peace. If I’m not at home, Pinterest does the trick.
- Sound • I’m easily overstimulated by sound, so it’s silence for me.
- Taste • I’ve found drinking tea rather than inhaling a bag of chips is the better option. But, oh my gosh… salty chips.
- Smell • If you’re unfamiliar with Palo Santo, it’s considered a South American holy wood. I find the aroma spicy + earthy. I burn it every day –stressed or not.
- Touch • Nothing beats curling-up with my dogs, Georgi + Bodhi. They’re the ultimate cure-all.
Keep your list handy. I saved mine on my phone for easy access. The next time you’re feeling triggered, apply the tools on your list to calm your impulse to react negatively.
Stress naturally permeates into our relationships with family and friends. Surfing the Moment helps us fend-off fight or flight, interrupting our negative thoughts before we react. By soothing our senses, we diffuse our heightened emotions and focus on mindful self-compassion. And right now, compassion is sounding pretty damn good. –xo