For a class project at the University of Georgia, my niece was instructed to interview “old people” and see what advice they had for the younger generation. The resulting answers from my mom have formed the basis for this blog series, “Advice From Mom.”
“Try not to stress out. It can literally make you sick. Ask yourself if what you’re stressing about will matter in a year from now.”
Stress affects us all. It’s there during busy times at work, disciplining your kids, dealing with money or coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. And while a little stress is actually beneficial, too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically.
So how do we make stress go away? Here are a few good ways to unwind.
Take a break from the stressor – It may seem difficult to get away from stress, but let yourself have time to do something else. It can help you have a new perspective or practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed.
Exercise – The research keeps growing — exercise benefits your mind just as well as your body. Even a 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours.
Smile and laugh – Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their face. Laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.
Get social support – Call a friend, send an email. When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve stress. But it’s important that the person whom you talk to is someone whom you trust and whom you feel can understand and validate you. If your family is a stressor, for example, it may not alleviate your stress if you share your works woes with one of them.
Pray/Meditate – Meditation and mindful prayer help the mind and body to relax and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits.
So listen to what Mom say about stress. Ask yourself if – a year from now – what you’re stressing about will matter. If it will, do your job (or your relating or your budgeting) to the best of your ability and let go of what’s not in your control.