Monday, April 30, 2018

My Favorite Not-So-Common Stress Relievers

by Jen Sorensen

  Want to know the dirtiest s-word of them all?? STRESS. Ugh. There’s SO much of it in our lives and we have to make a huge effort to control it before it shapes us into a person we barely recognize. Here are a few ways I’m learning to do that.

Give someone a compliment.

  Really, this one should be called Do Something For Someone Else, but I find that giving someone a genuine compliment is one of the simplest, yet most meaningful, ways to get us out of our own heads and focused on someone else. One of the worst side effects of stress is that we zone in more and more on our own problems and we forget that one of the things that brings us peace is caring about other people. So tell a stranger that you love their shoes. Tell a coworker that they did an amazing job on a project. Tell your spouse that they look hot. For real. Tell your kids that their hugs are like a superpower. Tell your neighbor that you’re lucky to have them because they always have baking soda. (Unless you’re my neighbor because I never do.) Tell your sister that she’s the best listener and you should know. Tell a friend that she helps you be a better person. By the time you’ve thought about all of those compliments, the stress will most likely have faded to the background and allow you tackle it with a clearer mind.

Face whatever is stressing you, and beat it.

  So often our problems are never quite as scary or as time-consuming or as hard to figure out in real life as they are in our imaginations. All of us are affected by stress in different ways. For me, it really messes with my sleep! Usually I just stay awake because all the worries are swirling around in my head. When I do finally drift off I dream about the same problems that were plaguing me while I was awake, except there’s a weird unicorn selling ice cream or something.
  When I finally face the stress, it’s usually a pretty quick fix and definitely not worth all the apprehension that preceded it. I try to teach this to my kids. Especially where math homework is involved.

Ask for help.

  Uh, excuse me. I am Wonder Woman and I do not need help. Ha! I wish. I need sooooo much help, but I’m actually really bad at asking for it. It’s not because I don’t think I need it (I could barely write that without laughing out loud!), but I really don’t want to be a bother to anyone. Several months ago I asked my husband if he would start switching off with me every other week to take care of the menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking. He is the most amazing human on the planet and immediately started doing exactly that. Let me tell you, a whole week of coming home to delicious dinners that someone else thought of and shopped for and cooked and cleaned up after… HUGE STRESS RELIEVER. And it only happened because I asked for help. I did it and so can you.

Give yourself permission.

  This means so many things to me. One of my biggest stress-inducing flaws is that I never feel like I’m good at anything. The way I’m learning to combat this is by giving myself permission to feel like I’m good enough at something. Sometimes this goes hand in hand with giving myself permission to cry a little or permission to quit even when I feel like I should keep going or, weirdly enough, permission to feel inferior, but only for a little while. Sometimes you must give yourself permission to do nothing. The world will go on with Henry Higgins and it will go on without you. Lay in your bed and watch a show and then watch another show and then remember that you are a person.
  Giving ourselves permission to feel or do something that usually isn’t allowed can be liberating, and you can’t feel liberated and stressed at the same time.

Remember who you are.

  After all the other things we’ve talked about, this is the most important. So often one of my biggest stresses is keeping up with everything I’m “supposed” to do to keep myself spiritually put together. There are (way too many) days when I allow work, kids’ schedules, meal prep, housework, tv, social media, yard work, blah blah blah, to take all of my attention and I become so depleted that I’m too tired to talk to my Heavenly Father and waaaay too tired to read from the scriptures. I get so stressed out and snappy and overwhelmed and forget that I’m worth anything and I wonder why everything is going wrong?!
  I’ve been through this cycle so many times that you’d think I’d start figuring it out a little sooner, but recently I found myself back in the same slump so I picked up where I left off last time in the scriptures and what do you think I read on that very first morning? This:

And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.” (Mormon 9:20)

Well, there you go. Depart from the right way, and God’s miracles cease in our lives. What a great argument to turn the things we're "supposed" to do into things that we "get" to do. I get to pray every day. I get to study His words every day. I get to serve those around me every day. I want to know God every single day because I don’t have a chance of handling the stress of life without his miracles, big and small. So, above all, remember the things that we’re “supposed” to do are the things that will wrap his loving arms around us and keep us safe. No matter what religion you are, just remember that you are a child of God. You are worth taking caring of and you are powerful enough to take care of those around you.