How do you Manage Your Stress with Chronic Pain?
I struggle with this one. Even today I feel stressed out. Family, work, COVID, household chores, lots of other worries…. I almost need to make processing stress my top priority lately, otherwise it takes over again. I am trying to schedule mini mind-body breaks into my day (like 2-5 min here and there) to stretch, breathe deeply, get out of my head and notice my surroundings, and drop from my head down into my body. A mini break is doable. A long one seems overwhelming. Many mini breaks is the answer for me right now. And I don’t always do it. But I am doing it more and more. I sometimes wish I could move out of the city to a little home and own less stuff and have less chaos around me. That sounds like an easy answer. But I think the small consistent steps towards healthy habits is probably the more sustainable answer for me.
I am learning that while I can’t always control the stressors (the things causing the stress) I can try to help stress move through my body rather than stay in it. I just listened to a good podcast about this (Unlocking Us) and they talked about ways to complete the stress cycle. They said that when your body goes into that fight or flight mode, do one or more of these things until your body has shifted in the direction of peace…
1. Physical activity (running, walking, cleaning the house)
2. Breathing (slow and long)
3. Positive social interaction (be with people who give you energy and peace)
4. Laughter (real belly laughter)
5. Affection (a 20 sec hug or longer – til your body melts into the other)
6. Big old cry (focus on the sensation of crying without continuing to feeding yourself more distressing thoughts)
7. Creative expression (take the thoughts out of you and put them on paper – art, collage, poetry, journaling, etc.) These are all better than things like tv, social media, or eating which make the stress stagnant in your body because there is no release.
3 mantras that have been helpful for me over the years are: 1. “Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have” 2. “Maybe everything is ok, just the way it is” and 3. “I am on an endless journey through eternity and I have plenty of time.” They aren’t perfect and you could probably poke holes in all of them but they put my mind at ease so I will continue to say them.
How do you manage your own stress these days?
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