During stressful times, keep calm, carry on

You’ve probably heard the phrase “perfect storm,” and after all we’ve been through in the past 45 days, I think I know what one looks and feels like. I am blessed that I have a home to shelter in place. I slept through tornadoes in Nashville last months and severe storms Sunday without an inkling a storm raged outside. I can work from home and I’ve had e-church the past three Sundays because we can’t congregate.

Sadly, from everything I’ve seen, read and heard, there are those who are experiencing job loss, tornado damage, rotting crops because there’s nobody to gather them, ruined businesses, illness and death of loved ones due to Covid 19, and somehow, they’re still standing.

Ironically April is Stress Awareness Month and if any one of these catastrophes isn’t reason to be stressed, pile them on and “coping” takes on new meaning. Stress. It is a word/condition we don’t talk nearly enough about but is one that keeps us awake at night, runs our blood pressure into dangerous numbers, makes us incapable of moving anywhere, much less forward, and ruins an otherwise perfectly good day. It deserves an entire month to move it into the forefront.

During this current social distancing phase, stress is center stage. Some stressors we recognize right away—too many bills, not enough money; hungry, boisterous children out of school all day, every day, you have to work from home and figure out what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Alcohol/drug use and domestic violence have increased–, trust me, if we’re not careful, these immediate crises will linger and debilitate for months and years to come.

Counseling may not be the answer to every problem, but like warm chocolate chip cookies, peach cobbler, and mushy notes can cure most ailments. My favorite columnist, Dear Abby, says it’s a good place to begin. Abby has recommended counseling for troubled marriages, childhood wounds, money issues, wayward children, parents who don’t understand and darned near everything else. She’s usually on the money.

Eliminating stressors takes effort and practice. Here are a few of my favorites:

Write it down. When I’m overwhelmed, I make a list. Dumping my brain helps me see things more clearly.

Celebrate the positive energy stress creates. That excitement and enthusiasm are what makes life worth living.

Look at how your body reacts when you’re stressed. Your health suffers and you’re more vulnerable to diseases like diabetes and hypertension. About five years ago my childhood struggle with the skin-pigmentation ailment Vitiligo returned after an almost 40-year absence. My doctor said she didn’t know why or what caused it but being diabetic and stressed at work, pretty well custom ordered it. Other ailments feed on stress as well.

Take a walk. Walking helps your weight, makes you feel better, and clears your mind. One day as I was walking and solving all the world’s problems, I found myself five miles from home. Of course, I had to walk back. It was a long day.

Practice self-care religiously. While we can’t do many of the personal things we might enjoy, plan your perfect day. Decide who to spend it with, where you’ll go, and what you’ll eat so you’ll be ready when you have freedom of movement.

Be aware of stress and how to make it go away. My favorite wisdom word, worr-a-tion, is the past, past tense of worry, and any way you spell it, there is always a better way to spend your time. Find it.

Like a bullet, stress can be a killer. Relax and stay out of the line of fire.

What are your time-tested tips to cope with stress? Do share with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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