This week I discuss 4 ways to combat stress during these difficult times. I explain how:
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Welcome to the burn bright podcast, a podcast dedicated to helping big hearted, creative women, battle burnout, and live happy, healthy, vibrant lives. I'm Kelly Ann, a fellow big hearted creative, a licensed therapist, and a proud quirky millennial. Welcome to today's episode. I am so glad you're here. It's your first time joining me.
Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. If you have been here all along. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you today. I want to talk about stress and how to manage it in a way that puts a stop to overwhelm. I know that so many of us are coping with so many different stressors and so many different challenges right now that I wanted to get back to giving you some practical tips on how to just cope with daily challenges that you're facing and acknowledged that we are all having bouts of anxiety as we deal with a pandemic.
And we deal with. An economy that is strained and we deal with communities of color, particularly black communities that are struggling right now under the weight of what it means to be nonwhite in America. Now that is practically how that is deadly in many instances. And so. It's really important that we find ways to be able to cope and still have a measure of joy in our day to day life and keep anxiety at Bay.
So today I wanted to go over four ways that we can do this. so to kind of frame this conversation, I want to start with a quote from William James. And that quote says the greatest weapon against stress. Is our ability to choose one thought over another. Now I know what you're thinking. Sounds great, but this isn't an easy thing to put into practice because here's the thing. Once the anxiety train has left the station, it is almost impossible to stop it.
However, being a therapist and working in the field with anxiety and having my own anxieties myself, there are some things that I have done and have taught others to do that help with managing anxiety. And particularly when we're having racing thoughts. So that it can kind of interrupt those thoughts and give us the mental space.
We need to change those thoughts into something more positive or into something that can at least be more meaningful. And so here's the first tip I want to give you on how to manage stress. And that is, I always tell people to visualize putting your worries in little boxes. I have been doing this for years, right?
So what I do is when I have a ton of things on my mind, a ton of time challenges or 10 of worries, like probably what we're all facing right now. It can get overwhelming really quickly. And particularly at night or whenever I have a break or a pause in my day, the worry seep in. And I find with sleep.
For example, when I want to go to bed, I'm thinking about, Oh, This problem, or I'm worried about a person or I'm thinking about a deadline, whatever that is. And all of a sudden sleep, even though I'm physically tired, there's no chance I'm getting to bed as long as my mind is racing.
So what I've learned to do is put my worries in little boxes. So I visualize myself. Putting a worry in a box. And this becomes a visualization exercise I love hatboxes. And for awhile, I decorated my living spaces with them. And I still have a few in my current apartment, but years ago I had them all over the place and I, I collect boxes, decorative boxes.
I put like DVDs and Blu-rays and all kinds of things in there. So when I do this exercise, I visualize boxes like that in, in my closet. And instead of of a hat or a blue Ray or some books, I put my worries. So I visualize my worries about a deadline going in a box. And then I visualize a worry about a person.
Maybe I'm worried about my family. I put that in a box. And so I have these very kind of elegant hatboxes of various sizes and my anxiety loves to be stylish, I guess. And so what I do is I put them in little boxes, one for each worry, and I go through this visualization decorating and putting my worries in my nice hat boxes.
And then what I do is once they're in those boxes that I love, it was pretty little boxes. I put them in my mental closet. So put your worries in boxes and then put them in your mental closet. And you visualize doing all of this and you close the door. And there's something about the exercise that one releases anxiety, but also feels like you're addressing one because you are naming it out loud in your brain.
You're saying, okay, right now I'm worried about maybe my kids the pending school year. And you're honoring the fact that it's a concern, but you're putting it in that box and you're putting in that closet and you're putting it away for now. Because for now, if it's bedtime, it's not useful and you, need sleep.
Or if you have other things you have to do, it's not useful to be thinking about that at the moment. And so the visualization of putting your worries in boxes and then putting them away can be very powerful. The second thing I do. And I recommend people do when I'm managing my anxiety.
And my stress is I interrupt those overwhelming feelings with a simple, big breath. And I know that this is something that people say all the time, but they say it all the time because it works there is so much power in belly and diaphragm breathing as a tool to relieve anxiety and to bring down our stress levels. And so what I recommend people doing is that they inhale through their nose and count to six.
And literally it is just the one, two. Three and so on to six and then exhaling through your mouth while counting in your brain to eight. And so you let it all out almost like a sigh. You sigh it all out for eight counts. And I try to do this 10 times or at least for a minute. So one minute of. Deep big breaths go a long way to lower our stress hormones, such as cortisol and keep us grounded and feeling okay to kind of continue on.
The third thing I recommend is just to move the power of exercise. Again, for some of us that comes naturally for others . That's like, yeah. Groaning at me right now. Like why, why are you recommending this? But it's so important that we just move how you move doesn't matter, but that you move does. So taking a walk outside, doing a workout that you love.
If nothing else putting on YouTube, there's so many workouts on YouTube that I love. I should probably curate a list and released some of my favorite workouts that I do. There's they're free. They're engaging. They're fun. But just moving your body releases so much stress and so much anxiety. That it is worth pushing yourself to do.
And if all of that fails. Okay. I tell people, put on your favorite song and dance. So for three to five minutes, however long that song is. Just absolutely dance with abandon and enjoy yourself. And that will release a lot of the energy and anxiety that we store in our bodies that keep us stressed and keep us feeling off balance and disconnected.
So last but not least of the four things that we can do to manage our anxiety. Is to develop a daily self care practice. There really is no substitute to having something in place before stress hits. When you cultivate a practice for yourself, it'll make life less overwhelming and more joyful.
I'm a huge proponent of building self care that is practical and works for you. And to have self care that is complete and not superficial that really taps into your mental, tall, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs because good self care plan does all of those things.
Next week, I'm going to get into detail about the five pillars of self care, because I think those are important that you understand what those are, but for this week, I simply want to tell you that developing a practice of self care. In any way, shape or form you can grab it is going to do so.
How much for you in managing stress, the 15 minutes. You give yourself reap rewards that will put years back onto your life by just having a daily practice and sticking to it. And of course, instead of waiting to be stressed, to start a self care practice, a good self care practice, has you engaging in it before you ever become stressed so that when stress hits it is more manageable and you feel up to the task of being able to face whatever challenge you are dealing with.
So for self care, Physical movement can be considered part of that. It can also be considered mental. You could do something that brings you joy, like reading maybe, or take on a new task or puzzle somebody that engages your brain, but in a fun way, for spiritual, maybe it's connecting with nature or meditating, doing an affirmation it could also be engaging in prayer. If you're religious and for emotional, it can be connecting with your partner, making time to just be with each other and connect. It can be spending time with the people you love doing things that bring you joy . Even spending time cuddling with your pet counts for emotional or heart led self care.
So when we're engaging in all five of those pillars, it makes a huge difference in our life and reduces our stress level. So again, to recap, those four things are visualize putting your worries in little boxes. The second thing we talked about was
interrupt any overwhelming feelings by taking a simple big breath. We talked about moving our bodies for at least 15 minutes. lastly, we talked about developing a daily self care practice and that by engaging in daily self care and building up that routine, it will help us.
Before stress hits to make sure that we're not , but we also inject joy into our days. And so as the quote from William James said at the beginning that our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
Then our ability to deal with stress means that we are choosing to put our worries inboxes take a deep breath,
move our bodies and put our thoughts on our daily self care practice. and once we're able to take our minds off of our anxieties, then we're able to put our minds onto other things such as cultivating a daily gratitude list.
That can be a powerful way to change our thoughts by bringing to mind all the things we are grateful for. We know there's so many reasons to be stressed and anxious and angry, rightfully so, but they're equal reasons to be joyful, optimistic, and grateful. And where do you really want to put your energy?
Into all the things that have gone wrong in your life or going wrong into the world or into all the things that are going right in small and big ways. And as a reminder, investing in gratitude and preaching the language of positivity does not mean that you ignore injustice, cruelty. Dishonesty. It doesn't mean that you live in a world of Rose colored glasses where you pretend those things don't exist, or you can don't them.
I'm not any way shape or form saying that. But I am saying that true self care practice and true mental health and reducing your stress level means that you give priority to focusing on the positive. That you always, fight the fine fight. You stand up for injustice, you stand up to dishonesty, you speak truth to lies, but at the end of the day, you ground yourself in positivity and gratitude and in self care, following those four ways to reduce stress.
You can, you will hopefully be able to change your thoughts, fight back against anxiety and inject more joy into your life.
So that brings this episode of the podcast to a close as always, thanks for joining me this week on the burn bright podcast, you can find me on Instagram at burn bright podcast, and it lets burn bright.com for more info on self care, mindfulness and burnout prevention. You can find this podcast on a host of platforms, Apple and Google podcast and Spotify, just to name a few, it would mean the world to me, if you would subscribe and leave a review so that you can catch every new episode when the fresh content drops each week.
So that until next Wednesday as always take care of yourself and take care of each other.