Face your stress and tension – one of the largest ways to prevent lasting negative impacts. Although most of the time, the type of stressful situation and when it will crop up for us is unknown, thus, making facing your stressors or tensions quite the challenge. On the other hand, we do know that there are stressors in each of our lives that we can predict and prepare for. If we find a way to prepare ourselves for those stressors, we will find that even the situations we couldn’t see coming are easier to navigate effectively.
For the body and brain to stay calm through a stressor, it must feel familiar. Preparation helps situational stress feel predictable and familiar. Shock and newness send our brains and bodies into perceived threat and thus into our survival response.
To prepare ourselves for stress, we need to first acknowledge it is coming toward us. (We can have some aversion to this because thinking about stress coming toward us can be anxiety provoking.) The trick is not to stay in the anxiety for any longer than absolutely critical in the identification process and move quickly to the next aspects of readying ourselves. Next, we must gather as much information as possible about the stressor and ourselves in the stressor. We must become familiar with the specifics and the possible solutions. Then, we need to develop our plan for stress reduction and mitigation and lastly, throughout this entire process we need to take care of our basic self-care needs, consistently staying dedicated to our bodies readiness through energy, rest, nurturing, and sustenance.
It is critically important for us to be honest with ourselves, as much is emotionally possible, about what is coming toward us for situational stress and tension. This process involves us pausing, for reflection and inquiry about the environment we are living in and we have created for ourselves. There are obvious barriers to this process, like it is a hard and crucial conversation with ourselves, but we must surmount the obstacles to look forward at what is in our path. This involves, who we will be seeing, what job duties have upcoming timelines, what our kids are about to struggle through, what are financial landscape is. When we can talk to ourselves about how those health and wellness contributors are REALLY doing, we can prepare for stress coming toward us.
Once we have acknowledged our actual landscape, we can gather information. What makes those situations stress for us individually, or everyone generally. What specific aspects of the situational stressor do we find more challenging and uncomfortable? What do each of us look like when we are experiencing this type of stress, especially on the front end, so we can be rapid at identification? What are some known solutions for decreasing or diminishing stress in these situations?
Once we have done our research, then we can develop a stress mitigation plan. What do we need to keep ourselves calm throughout? What can we do to avoid the specific parts that are most overwhelming or overstimulating? What tools can we put in place, apply, try on, practice and then place clearly on our plan? Who can we share our plan with as a buddy system so they can support, remind, and help activate the plan?
To utilize our plan most effectively, we have to have good energy reserves. If we are too fatigued, we will choose a more rapid, convenient, familiar response to stress, which for most of us, is less healthy, adaptive, effective and planful. We have to achieve good rest (most of the time), eat healthy food (most of the time), move our body (some of the time), and nurture our needs with kind and loving experiences (as much as is possible). These self-care strategies will help us access our stress reduction plans in the most efficient and effective ways when we need them the most.