Respect and kindness to ourselves and others is something our world needs in increased doses. And not just in the context of the events of recent days. That’s why we’ve written some practical tips below on how to better cope with challenging life situations that often cost us attention, energy and sometimes tears.
Whether we want to or not, sometimes stress, fear or even anxiety creep into our lives on various levels… It is therefore good to learn how to work with this so that such emotions do not “overwhelm” us and we can still be ourselves and continue to be a support for ourselves and our loved ones. In all kindness, courage, respect and love.
How does the human body respond to stress?
When we get into a stressful situation, a number of processes are triggered in the body that affect not only our psyche but also our physical health. Simply put, in response to the situation, our brain sends an order to the surrounding cells and the body starts producing “stress hormones” – mainly cortisol and adrenaline – to deal with the situation. So they start giving our body orders like “fight or flight”.
Then, when the stress is really strong and long-lasting, it can have really significant effects on our health. In practice, we can suffer from headaches, have trouble sleeping, our heart rate gets faster, we feel tension in our muscles or our stomach hurts… Each of us is unique and therefore the symptoms and reactions to stressful situations vary from person to person.
Tips on how to cope better with challenging situations
We know that sometimes it’s really hard to put ourselves first – especially when the world is turning upside down and we’re comparing (and often downplaying) our personal problems with everything else that’s going on around us. However, in order to be strong and to be able to care for others, we simply need to do so… So below are some practical tips that can help you handle difficult life situations with a little more ease.
Regular movement is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. It takes your attention in a different direction for a while and eases your mind. However, it’s not just about that. Playing sports better oxygenates our nervous system and therefore improves blood flow through the brain (which affects its structure and increases the availability of neurotransmitters). In addition, after prolonged exercise, substances known to most people as endorphins – the happiness hormones – are secreted, which in addition to improving mood, also dampen pain.
Relax your muscles
As we mentioned above, when we’re stressed, our muscles tend to contract and tighten. So it’s a good idea to try to relax the body – we can try some light stretching such as yoga (which works nicely with the breath), a warm shower, a hot bath or even a massage.
Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can help remove pressure surprisingly quickly. There are a large number of breathing techniques. One of them, for example, is called box breathing, a thousand-year-old yogic technique revived and made famous by the US Navy SEALs in particular. This breathing technique can increase performance and concentration and can also be an effective stress reliever.
How to do it? The technique combines equal length inhalations, breath holds and exhalations.
Step 1: Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose until your lungs are completely full and air is in your abdomen – count to four.
Step 2: Hold your breath – again slowly count to four.
Step 3: Exhale, counting to four as you go – letting the air out of your lungs and abdomen.
Step 4: Hold your breath – again counting slowly to four. Then repeat the process as needed.
Set up your daily rituals
Routines can have a really significant impact on our mental well-being in a healthy way. Surprising as it may seem, making sure that some things have a specific time and place can help us eliminate stress. We make anchors in our lives that we can rely on and that we can more easily “bounce back” from – whether it’s a morning walk with the dog, meditation, or a good breakfast. It’s also a good idea to write down specific items we want to accomplish that day and slowly tick them off. This helps our bodies to release dopamine, the so-called reward hormone.