Disclaimer: We at EMGG do not claim to be medical professionals. The advice given in this article is meant to help cope with regular stress management and day to day living. It is not weakness. If you are thinking of harming yourself or others, please seek out professional help. Mental and physical well-being is the top priority.
Life is tough. It will happen regardless of our wants or needs. So, how do we find our way forward when the world is against us? Ultimately, that question is up to each one of us to answer, but there are a lot of things we can do to help us with that journey. We can only control the things we control, and usually, that’s limited to ourselves and the way we view the world and our actions.
Our goal is not to provide all of the answers. Each of these suggestions is subjective and won’t apply to every situation. These are simply tools that can help us cope.
Take a Break
Step outside. Breathe some fresh air. Use some of that vacation time for some much needed away time. Use allotted break times and lunches to actually take a break and/or eat lunch. Go home on time and leave work at work.
For some, this is a foreign concept. The value of this time away cannot be overstated. It gives us a moment to regroup. This doesn’t even have to be a full 15 minute or hour break. Simply standing up and going for a quick walk away from the computer can make all the difference in the world.
When we don’t take time for ourselves, our focus can fade. When our focus fades, our quality reduces. When our quality reduces, we get stressed out both physically and mentally.
This may be a surprise, but recreational activities can fall into this as well. When something that is supposed to be fun becomes more bad than good, it might be time to step away for a bit.
Take a break.
Before embarking on a project or sitting down to talk through a stressful situation, map out those expectations. Be real with what the end results could be. Understand what the worst case scenario is and prepare to experience it.
Things don’t always work out in our favor. We will fail or life will throw us a curveball we weren’t expecting. When going into a situation understanding it from all angles, we’ll be better prepared to accept things when they go south.
This isn’t defeatism. This is a pragmatic approach that is critical to bouncing back from a bad situation. Recognizing the worst can also help us formulate plans to deal with that worst case scenario. Knowing there’s a contingency plan ready to go can help a lot while waiting for the end result.
Establish a Supporting Cast
Finding dependable people to surround ourselves with can be tough. It takes honesty and maturity. It takes open communication and a willingness to receive feedback that may not always be comfortable to hear. Knowing how to read a person’s character and being able to determine the difference between human error and toxic behavior takes time and experience.
These are the people can be asked for help. They can ask to do things to achieve goals together. These people will lift us up when we’re down. Help us find the silver lining in a dark cloud. Be real with us when we’ve lost our way.
We’re not alone. Support comes in many forms. Recognizing where it is and who is giving it is half the battle.
Change the Environment
The best laid plans can go awry. We can find ourselves in a less than ideal environment surrounded by toxicity. The job isn’t working out the way we thought. The neighborhood isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps there are relationship troubles. Some part of our norm is stressing us out…
Now, this doesn’t mean we have to quit our jobs, move away, break up with our significant others or sign up with the local commune of enlightened folks (Not that there’s anything wrong with that way of life). This isn’t a call for dramatic change.
Most of this is recognizing our self-worth and standing up for ourselves. If the job isn’t what was expected, find something about it that can be appreciated, maybe the hours suck, but the pay is nice. File a complaint or make a suggestion to fix the problem that’s making life harder. Have that conversation with the significant other and be prepared to change behavior and help them change theirs, if it’s needed. Begin looking for a new job or a place more suitable to needs.
Change takes time. It takes effort and it most certainly is not easy to do. It can also be the very thing that’s needed to experience life in a way never thought possible. Some of the best things in life come from taking a chance on something outside our comfort zone.
All of that said, some environments are not safe. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself in a situation that endangers you or others, do everything you can to escape that place safely.
When stress rules our lives, we can lose track of our successes. We get so focused on our failures; we forget our achievements. Toxic people will belittle and degrade those around us. It can make the best locations an extremely stressful place to go every day. When we’re told we’re worthless often enough, it’s possible to start believing it.
We need to remind ourselves of our accomplishments. Regain an understanding on the bigger picture, understand why the things we do are important and how they’ve actually impacted the lives of those around us.
Make a “To-Do” list of items that can be knocked off quickly. Each task checked off will be a dopamine rush that reminds us we can be productive and feel human again while accomplishing some things that have needed doing.
We should take credit for the things in life we have done. Be proud. Know that this is a thing that wouldn’t be if not for our presence. This shift in perspective is important for mental health and our sense of self-worth.
Lastly, there are times when we don’t know everything that goes into a decision. It can go a long way towards helping us process the reason things is the way they are and help us toward achieving goals bigger than ourselves. The boss might be stressed out for reasons that have nothing to do with their workers, and that’s bleeding into the workspace. Possibly, some small detail that wasn’t understood before prevented us from understanding its importance and we’ve been neglecting giving it the attention it deserves.
This doesn’t mean we have to be okay with a garbage situation, but it can help us know why it is what it is and give ourselves a better way forward.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Finally, life will stress us out no matter what. The last thing we can do is know what things deserve to stress us out. The bigger situations will usually let us know they need more attention and if we’ve exhausted ourselves on irrelevant problems, we won’t have the energy needed to dedicate to more serious issues.
Forgot to do some chores? Those dishes can be done later. Somebody turned us down for a date? It happens. There are other people out there that are definitely interested. It may be a little embarrassing, but at least the shot was taken and we can move on.
Failure or the fear of failure is naturally stressful. Sometimes we blow things out of proportion and make a bigger deal out of them than they need to be. Taking a step back and analyzing the real impact of these setbacks can help us recognize what’s actually important.
In the end, remember that we are all human. Stress is a part of life. We’re all in this together. Why sweat the small stuff?
One Final Note
The suggestions above are not meant to be professional help. These are merely tools we’ve found useful through our own experience in helping cope with stressful situations. Our lives are a journey where we are constantly developing our ability to process the world around us.
Our perspectives will naturally evolve as we internalize our experiences and ascribe value to life lessons. We implore you to continue looking for your answers.
There are hundreds of articles and resources available for building resilience and our abilities to cope.
Again, if you are considering harming yourself or others or you are in a dangerous environment, please seek professional help. Below are some very helpful numbers for getting the help you need:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (English): 1-800-273-8255 (Español) 1-800-628-9454
Article by: Whooh