Maximise your resourcefulness in times of stress
Stressful things happen. That’s something anyone who lives in Christchurch knows for sure, and the fires have reminded us of that. Sometimes when stressful things occur, we can end up juggling a lot of balls or feeling like we’re in a pressure cooker, and when that happens, it’s good to know how to respond. If we’re not in a good state, our chances of keeping all our balls in the air significantly decrease, and so the first thing to ensure in times of stress is that we’re taking care of the basics.
The first basic to take care of is eating well. If you’re waking up and getting straight into the day without any breakfast, skipping meals or eating junk, your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to respond well to stress. We’d never try to drive anywhere with an empty tank of fuel, and if we put substandard fuel in the tank, we would definitely expect our cars to sputter along and break down after a short time. Our bodies are the same, and the only way to fuel our bodies is through our food, so feeding it well is paramount.
Another thing that is fundamental in keeping ourselves well is movement. We are simply not designed to sit still, and time spent moving is extremely valuable to our bodies in multiple ways. Related to this, fresh air and time in nature has been shown again and again to be incredibly beneficial for us, so combining these two – getting fresh air and moving at the same time – is even better.
Sleep is another fundamental. Without it we really struggle, so setting up good conditions around sleep is important. A comfortable bed, a nice bedroom, caffeine-free drinks in the evening and no screen time before bed are just a few of the conditions that help set us up for a great sleep, and this allows us to maximise our physical, mental and emotional strength, to deal effectively with stressful situations as they arise.
Another thing we can do to maximise our resilience in times of stress is to breathe. That might sound crazy as it’s something we do all the time, but the way we breathe when we’re relaxed is very different to the way we breathe when we’re stressed. When we’re stressed we tend to breathe quite quickly and shallowly, whereas when we’re relaxed our breathing is much deeper and slower. By focusing on our breathing and making ourselves slow down and breath more deeply, it sends the message to our mind and body that things are ok, so yoga, meditation and just sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing for a couple of minutes are all incredibly valuable.
Finally, I highly recommend laughter as a way to keep yourself strong and resilient. Finding things to laugh at or people to laugh with lightens the mood, releases tension, boosts your immune system and releases endorphins which makes us feel good. Related to this, activating your support network is great, as these people can provide an ear, support, advice or some much needed distraction.
So to make sure you are in the best place possible, and to help ensure you are able to function well in times of stress, make sure you’re taking care of the basics. Eat well, move well, sleep well, breathe well, and laugh.