Redefining Stress

Redefining Stress
When we’re on the school playground, in the grocery store, or at the doctor’s office – moms look at other moms. We observe them, admire them, and judge them. There are moms who seem to always hold it together and others who seem to always be pulled in all directions. It may be handled differently, but all moms experience stress.

That calm, managing everything with ease exterior that many moms try to portray often holds volcanoes of tension underneath. And, that’s ok. Stress is a part of life and impacts all aspects of our life – including our health, our emotions, and our ability to function.

I recently watched a Ted video by Kelly McGonigal on stress. Dr. McGonigal is a health psychologist at Stanford University. Stress has become the enemy, she said, and when people believe that stress is harmful, stress becomes harmful. Literally! McGonigal cites a study that followed people who were under extreme stress. It was not the “under extreme stress” that predicted a more likely death but, rather, a person’s belief that stress was harmful.

McGonigal asserts that by changing our beliefs about stress, we can increase our health. What can a mom do to change the way she thinks about stress?

Affirmations I, too, roll my eyes whenever someone tells me to write down a positive affirmation and stick it on my mirror. But, the fact is – if you do it – you’ll reap the benefits. Find quotes that pick you up, make you happy, or connect you to deep and meaningful living.

Live as if this is your moment. Many of us struggle to stay in the present moment or to cherish each moment. Embrace life. Live each moment as though it were your last. These are easier said than done. Practice makes progress. Keep working to live with a purpose.

Connect with others. Dr. McGonigal also states that human connection is the resilience factor in stress. During those difficult moments, it’s important to muster up all you have and connect with others. That might mean a social outing or a volunteer hour at the closest nursing home. Connection brings purpose, and purpose makes stress approachable.

Learn more. From the beginning of time, stress has served us well. The fight or flight response alerts us to danger and puts our body in the right space to ward off and face danger. The definition of danger has evolved, but our bodies are still prepared to fight or flee. Learn more about cause and response of the stress reaction and welcome this enigma into your life.

Make it light. Put on music, take a breath, laugh out loud. Insert something to break up the stress-filled moment of a child having a tantrum on the floor of the grocery store. Step back and look at the big picture. Will the world really end if you are late for the music class you signed your child up for? Be a model for your child when the world becomes overwhelming. Put it all in perspective.

“No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it.” (Harry Emerson Fosdick) Learn to accept stress in a whole new light and make the practice of managing it an enjoyable part of your daily routine.

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