As summer wanes and we welcome in fall, the changing seasons can feel like a fresh start. This year, with the ongoing pandemic, the normal fall rituals may feel a bit different.
Perhaps you’re feeling a sense of loss, after the kids headed back to school and you now have an empty house after being together with your family during the pandemic. Or you may be anxious that your workplace is reopening with the expectation that you return to the office environment after more than a year of working from home.
Managing Stress Through Life Transitions
Independent of the calendar, some of our biggest moments throughout each season of our lives can routinely stress us out. Moving away from home, buying a house, starting a new job, getting a promotion, getting married, having children, losing loved ones, changes in the status of our relationships, launching a new career, starting a business, or retiring – all these life changes can trigger our body’s stress response, impacting our mental and emotional health.
Taking a few moments to practice these tips below can help you prepare for those stressful times.
Five Tips to Manage Stress
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, you may discover you’re taking short, shallow breaths. Check your posture to ensure you’re sitting up straight. Practice taking a long, deep breath in through the nose, and exhale slowly through the mouth. This can be done anywhere, so try it while sitting in your office, when waiting for a big meeting to begin, while driving, in the checkout line at the grocery store, or anytime you feel anxiety welling up.
Coach children to practice breathing exercises, too. It helps them to understand it’s normal to feel anxious, and there are ways to ensure those stressful times so they aren’t overwhelmed. Check out these breathing exercises.
Engaging in regular exercise can help lower your stress and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels. It can also prevent the onset of stress, so find an activity that interests you. Don’t have time for yoga, a workout or a round of golf? Go for a stroll on your lunch hour or a five-minute walk outdoors before that big presentation. Even a short exercise break can help.
Write it Down
Taking a few moments to simply write things down can help unclutter your mind and provide the opportunity to methodically work through each item, rather than being overwhelmed by it all. As the saying goes, you can eat an elephant one bite at a time. Don’t think about the elephant – just focus on a bite.
If you feel that rush of panic as soon as you arrive at the office, take a moment to make a list of priority projects for the day. Try writing tomorrow’s list at the end of your work day, before leaving the office. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you check off each item as you finish it, and you may realize there are items on the list that really aren’t essential, and you can eliminate them.
Taking a few minutes with your significant other, a pet, or even a pillow can help your body to release oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ or the ‘trust hormone’. The simple act of cuddling can help ease anxiety and stress. It’s always a great way to start and end your day, too!
Talk to Someone
Talking to someone can help you articulate your feelings, often allowing you to clarify your challenges and recognize how to overcome them. Reach out to a trusted friend or seek assistance from a professional resource.
Want a professional to help coach you through managing transitions in life? Talk to our Registered Psychologist, Shelley Hanna, to support your mental health through these times.