As you find yourself amidst scholarship awarding, tackling stacks of verification forms, tax return transcripts, and awarding students for next year, you may find yourself feeling a little stress. Stress is different things to different people and different things at different times.
When stress strikes, we often find ourselves focusing outward and often ignore our personal needs and limits. Yet, it is during these difficult times we need to care about ourselves the most. That is when we need to move our bodies, get enough sleep, not skip meals, and just take a breather.
Practicing self-care not only helps us feel better, but helps us function at our best. It replenishes our reserves, boosts our energy, and provides clarity that will help us make smarter decisions in helping others.
Richard Blonna, Ed. D, coach, counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life, developed five levels of strategies for coping with stress.
A healthy lifestyle is important. Reorganizing your health and developing healthy habits provides energy and builds coping resilience. For instance, exercise not only improves physical functioning but it also helps your brain work better and process information better. Blonna recommends getting at least 30 minutes of cardio four to five times a week.
What your mind tells you about a stressor determines whether it becomes an actual stressor. We carry mental and emotional baggage about past events and experiences. When similar experiences come up, these old scripts lead to negative self-talk. Be aware of your baggage and how it is affecting your life in the present moment; how it is influencing your ability to enjoy life now. You have the power to change those negative thoughts and push through your self-doubt.
Sometimes we are stressed out because of the sheer volume of things we are involved in. When you are overwhelmed, even fun things lose their appeal and become stressors. Consider all the things you are involved in. Do they mesh with your goals and values? It takes time to get the balance right and it may mean saying no to things that aren’t important to you.
A lot of people are so stressed that they do not know what a calm mind feels like. Practicing clinically proven relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or systematic muscle relaxation, for about 20 minutes a day can help tremendously.
This goal is two-fold; to reduce muscle tension and to use up energy that is mobilized during a stress response. In addition to your physical activity routine, you need something more vigorous to release the tension like lifting weights or going for a brisk walk.
Whatever your stressors may be, take time to practice self-care and make a difference in your life and the lives of our students.
Brought to you by Lisa Gdowski, member of the Training Committee.