Welcome to day 3 of our resiliency roadmap journey. If you are just joining us, take a look here to see our introduction to this project and then day 1 and day 2. So far, we've identified our personal symptoms and signs of stress in our bodies (e.g., muscle tension), our emotions (e.g., worry), our thinking (e.g., being more distracted), and our behaviors (e.g., withdrawing from things we enjoy); and we have identified aspects of certain situations that are likely to cause stress for us (e.g., having to be separated from family, lack of control). Today, we begin building our stress management behavior tool box.
I want you to spend a moment reflecting on positive coping strategies that you know already work for you. Many of you have already posted some ideas in the comments of this series so far--Nice job! Sometimes in times of stress, we forget to fall back on these active, positive coping strategies, so now is the time to really identify what works for you already and write down that reminder list for yourself. Then when you notice signs of stress in yourself or you know a situation is coming that has stressful components for you, you can intentionally pull these active coping strategies forward.
Below are some possibilities, but just like our signs of stress, each of us can have our own list of active coping behaviors that work for us. For example, if I'm really worried and find that my mind is really distracted and ruminating on a problem, I may try to distract myself temporarily (to get my brain out of this rumination cycle) by watching a funny movie. In addition, I added to this list below going for a bike ride with my kids. This one really helps me activate my body to fight against some physical stress signs, and I'm able to practice mindfulness. My kids and I focus on what flowers are blooming, how many lemons/oranges/grapefruit are on our neighborhood trees when we pass by, and other "in the present" observations (that again get me out of my head where I'm worrying about the future that I usually can't control).
You also can review our recent post about ways to cultivate mindfulness in this time of stay at home orders. I also have a favorite song that helps me remember to "live in the moment". I sometimes take a short break and actually pull the song up and listen, but other times I can just mentally play it back, and it is enough to give me a mental re-frame. Finally, I also fall back on having lunch or dinner with a good friend. I'm lucky that a good friend and I work in the same place, so it is easy to meet for lunch. And, she is ALWAYS a comfort and makes me laugh, bringing focus to positive emotion. So, what do you already have in your toolbox that works for you? That's how you are already resilient, so lets be sure to reinforce these activities!
To round out today, I want to offer a couple more tips to add to your road map if they are not among the stress coping techniques you are already using.
I look forward to seeing what resiliency tools you already have in your toolbox, AND I hope you'll share. When I've done this work with our staff, they often come up with lots of unique suggestions that are not on this starting list. And, when they share with each other, I hear, "Oh, that's a great idea! I didn't think of that!"
Join me again on Wednesday where I want to highlight some formal relaxation techniques we often recommend and give you some tools to try them. I hope then you'll add some of these to your coping technique list that you've started today. See you soon!