Even though most of the people we work with at BPAR are dealing with specific issues surrounding adoption, there are some parts of life that everyone deals with. One such issue is stress.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is hard to avoid feeling stress, and some kinds of stresses are even healthy for you! However, when stress becomes overwhelming and unmanageable, it can negatively affect your well-being.
In order to reduce those stresses that aren’t helpful to you, here are five simple and effective things to do to alleviate stress:
We need to do it in order to live, but we often forget to breathe when we need it most. Take a moment to stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and take three slow, deep breaths. When you breathe in, let your stomach expand to its capacity. When you exhale, slowly release all the air. Repeat. This will slow down your heart rate, allow more oxygen to flow to your brain, and relax some tension in your body.
2. Exercise or stretch.
Studies show that exercise is not only beneficial for your body, but also for your mind. Releasing feelings of stress and tension through exercise can have lasting effects when done regularly. When you have a lot on your plate, it can be hard to find time to exercise. However, dedicating some time for physical activity, whether it is a boxing class, yoga, or a walk outside with a friend, can help relieve feelings of stress. If taking time for exercise does not sound like something you can afford to do, try some simple stretches right where you are. Reach your arms overhead and breathe. Bend to the side. Roll your shoulders forward and backward. Ask your body what it needs.
3. Write it down.
What is stressing you out? Is it that mental laundry list of errands and chores and appointments and reminders you have? Is it the amount of work piling up right before your eyes? Is it the anticipation of an uncomfortable conversation? Whatever it is, write it down. Create a list, have a weekly planner, or scribble down your thoughts about the confrontation you are anxious about – simply writing it down and getting it out of your head can relieve some of that stress.
4. Ground yourself.
When we are stressed, we tend to be thinking about the past or the future. Try focusing on the present by bringing awareness to your physical surroundings. Feel the weight of your body on the chair if you are sitting, feel your feet make contact with the ground, feel the sensation of the air touching any exposed skin. Take in your current environment with your senses, and simply notice without judgment. Just one minute of this can help bring you to the present moment.
5. Practice Self-Care.
What do you enjoy doing? Do you like to paint? Does having a cup of coffee or tea with a friend turn a bad day around? Is there a movie you’ve wanted to see, or a book you’ve wanted to read? Pick a safe treat and reward yourself. Balance your life between work and leisure. Allowing time to do things you enjoy may lift your spirits and allow you to be more productive and positive.
By Katie McCarthy
Boston Post Adoption Resources