Our country has been through a lot this year: We’ve witnessed mass shootings on a more regular basis. Wildfires continued to ravage our west coast. The nation is torn by political tensions, trade wars, and impeachment.
Whether you are experiencing the sorrow first hand, through the stories of loved ones, or from the media, we are all feeling an extra degree of stress and sadness with no sign of relief in sight.
So how do you stay sane? Short of finding a rock to live under for the foreseeable future, there are things you can do to handle it better and stay grounded. Here some tips I frequently share with my family and friends:
a regular habit of activities you enjoy. Some will be more involved –
i.e. play a round of golf, get a massage, work out, watch a movie or eat lunch
with friends. Others take five minutes: Go for a walk, listen to
music, close your eyes and breathe deeply, work on a crossword puzzle or
Sudoku. Throughout the day, take five minutes of quiet and
peace to give your mind a break and re-charge your
batteries. You will be more productive overall if you do.
- Reduce sources of
stress in your systems and routines. Objectively analyze yourself and
your lifestyle, defining your strengths and weaknesses in specific
categories. Create an achievable and prioritized plan for improvement and
each day determine one thing you can do that day to help meet your goals.
Then do it, even if you don’t feel like it. Take one small step every day.
non-destructive psychological or physical ways to decrease or eliminate
the stress that does creep in. For instance, rip paper into little
shreds (you may wish to imagine that the paper represents a particularly
vexing situation). Write in a private journal that no one ever
has to see — paper is unconditionally accepting, so you can vent, think things
through, pray, or whatever you wish. Throw a tennis ball
against the wall as hard as you can, catch it on the rebound,
and throw it again, or take ten seconds to stomp your feet on the floor as hard
and fast as you can. Make a regular appointment to talk with a trusted
friend or a group of colleagues. Each of these simple strategies, some of which
only take seconds, can make a noticeable difference in your day.
decide to put a smile on your face. Smile when talking to an angry
colleague or impatient child; your tone will immediately be much more
calming. Smile at someone on the street, at the beautiful sky or a
magnificent tree, at a funny cartoon, or even at yourself. Smile as if
you are truly happy, even when you’re at the end of your rope. You’ll
find that if you do it often enough, you do in fact become happier.
- Make a list of everything and everyone for whom you are grateful. Every evening, read the list. Then add at least one good thing that happened during your day, and at least one thing you did that made another person smile
2019 has been a tumultuous year with plenty of stress and worry to go around even if you are not directly involved. Following these simple tips can help decrease the tension as you face the headwinds of a new year.