In observance of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week, May 3 to 9, 2021, we’re #GettingReal about the pandemic’s impact on stress levels, mental health, and emotional well-being. Thank you to our partners at GFit Wellness for a series of helpful blogs on mental health issues. To learn more about GFIT’s Corporate Wellness Solution, click here.
Gain back control with 3 strategies to help you respond to stressful situations.
When you get a flat tire or a deadline is around the corner, how do you respond? Whether you’re suffering from long-term or low-grade stress, it can take a serious toll on your body and mind, so don’t ignore those feelings of constant tension. Try to understand what is happening inside your body and learn these simple coping skills to help fight the negative impacts of everyday stressors.
First, let’s touch base on the topic many of fight or flight. The fight or flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to flight or flee. The physiological responses associated with fight or flight can play an important role in surviving truly threatening situations. However, many individuals living with an anxiety disorder or other mental health problem may have threat systems which have become overactive. If you’re unsure if your stress is having an impact on your everyday life, consider these important factors to help you determine if you need to contact a doctor:
- Prolonged periods of poor sleep
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Constant anger and irritability
- Feelings of isolation or withdrawal
To ensure your stress isn’t controlling you, or determining your response in situations you encounter yourself in, here are 3 ways to help cope with stressful situations:
Understand the situation: Take some time to think about the situation you’re encountering. Try to describe your situation in a sentence. For example: “I had to move away for a new job opportunity. I will be in a new city, new people, and far from my family. The stressful parts are not knowing anyone, missing my old friends and my family.” Recognize the feelings you have in the situation. Understand and accept that it is okay to feel the way you do, given your situation. For example: “I feel lonely and sad because I miss my old friends and my family. I’m worried I won’t be able to handle living in a new city. I feel left out because I don’t know anyone here. I guess anyone would feel this way if they were in my situation.”
Commit to a positive attitude: Don’t dwell on the negative. Soaking yourself in all your negative thoughts can lead you to a dead end. Be aware of any negative thoughts and replace them with encouraging words. For example: “There are many new people to meet at my job, and this is an exciting opportunity for me to expand my connections and explore a whole new city, community. I know I can manage this.” Practice gratitude. Be sure to notice some positive things in your life too. Yes, even now. Each day, think of three things you’re grateful for. Gratitude helps fuel a positive attitude and keeps problems in perspective.
Take action: Decide what is in your control. Figure out what parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. Think of actions you can take to improve any part of your stressful situation. For example: “I’ll make sure to ask the HR representative about upcoming company events, and to speak to my leader about the best way to connect with team members. This way I’ll be able to meet new people and start to make connections immediately. I will also find a gym close to my new home, and take classes there.” Care for yourself. Take good care of yourself when stress in your life is high. Be sure to eat nutritious foods and minimize junk food. Get daily exercise and get the recommended amount of sleep. Do something everyday that helps you relax, whether that’s meditation, a soothing bath, reading a book, cooking, or taking a walk.
Focus on what you can influence, get support, and care for yourself. All these things can help you cope with your stressful situation.
This article has been made available to MCC members courtesy of GFIT Wellness in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. To learn more about GFIT’s Corporate Wellness solution, click here.