Seek Connection and Balance
One of my favorite truths is, “the opposite of addiction is connection.”
During times of high stress we are more likely to engage in unhealthy or addictive behaviors. We can easily get caught up in spending all of our mental energy focusing on how menacing our world is. The message we are getting right now is “You should be afraid and hypervigilant.” Worry becomes easy.
This focus on external anxieties and stressors maintains your biological stress response–we need to refocus on connection. This connection might be with ourselves, with our higher power, or with those around us. There are many ways to do this.
Meditating on resilient messages can help redirect our energy away from stress.
Meditation is simple, in fact, if you know how to worry you know how to meditate.
Take control of your thoughts and spend 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day, blocking everything else out and repeating something like our state motto, “With God all things are possible,” or “I have the power to make a positive difference in the world.” These affirmations and messages of resilience help us to gain energy and lose anxiety.
One of the things it is important for us all to realize is that when we are experiencing stressful circumstances our bodies have an automatic physiological response that involves producing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. One of the best ways to bring things back into balance and feel less stressed is by doing something active:
- go outside for a long walk
- work in your yard for a while
- tackle a major cleaning project
- get together with friends and play a game
Any of these will help you feel less anxious, think more clearly, and relax.
With those ideas in mind, think about the other benefits of getting together with friends.
A powerful way to relieve stress is to laugh. Laughter is medicine. Physiologically, it reverses your stress response and brings healing forces. So make a specific time to:
- watch your favorite comedy
- meetup with friends and read funny stories
- watch funny youtube clips
- follow funny twitter feeds or blogs
Intentionally engage the things that make you laugh. It will positively impact your mind, body and spirit and reduce your anxiety.
These various connections to ourselves, our emotions, and our higher power allow us to reap numerous mental health benefits and stress relief. And finally, social connection may be the most important component to wellness. As the news brings us constant details of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, make extra efforts to connect with your friends and family. Invite folks out for coffee or over for dinner. Make a list of people you're going to call and connect with throughout the week. It will brighten their day and help you feel more connected and less stressed.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director