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How to Build Resilience and Cope with Stress

In a world where we’re constantly being overstimulated and exposed to stressful situations, we need resiliency to recover and keep going. Resiliency is the mind and body’s ability to snap back from the effects of stress. Stress comes, but our resilience prevents it from having a lasting effect. Unfortunately, every so often, we don’t or can’t cope with stress well and our resiliency gets chipped away. Stress management is essential to maintaining and building resilience, so it’s important to understand how to manage stress and make yourself feel better when life gets tough, and life will definitely get tough. Here are some strategies for distancing ourselves from the feeling of stress.

Distract from Stress Symptoms

Learn to recognize the symptoms of stress, like shortness of breath, fast-beating heart, tense muscles, sweating palms, and tingling extremities, then react to them. Find a way to pull yourself away from the stress and get a break from it, if only for a moment. You can try breathing exercises, taking a walk, or getting involved in something you find fun and relaxing.

Incorporate Self-Care Into Your Week

Taking a little time to care for yourself every day, if time permits, or at least a few times a week reminds you that you matter as a person—and maybe you’re struggling to recover from stressful moments because you don’t think you deserve a break. Doing small things to treat your body like a temple—such as washing your face, exfoliating, taking a long bath, trimming your nails—lets you know it’s okay to feel okay and look after yourself. 

Treat Yourself

Along the same lines of adding self-care to your routine, yet slightly different, treating yourself to something is doing something you want to do, but can’t do on a regular basis due to something like finances, time, distance, health. This could mean a lot of different things. You could buy yourself a fancy coffee at a café, pick up a slice of cake from the local bakery, book a spa day, buy a new fragrance, or snag a nice sweater from the thrift store.

Turn to Your Support Network

If you’ve got some caring people in your life, go ahead and call them up when you’re feeling stressed out. You don’t have to vent if you’re not comfortable, but your friends and family can at least distract you from your current worries and show you that everything might be okay. If you don’t have a lot of people in your life, then a trusted pet, a stranger on the internet, or a supernatural deity could help you feel better. 

Get Physical

Getting your blood pumping is both a guaranteed way to release feel-good hormones and distract you from your thoughts. Exercising pushes you to focus on the present moment and the moves you’re making—and bringing yourself into the present as much as possible, away from the troublesome thoughts in your head, is an essential part of building up resilience.

Do Something Different

Feeling bored, and therefore trapped, could be a source of stress for some people. Feeling bored out of your mind is a call to live your life a tad differently than you normally do. You don’t have to make any drastic changes. Even small changes like subscribing to a new YouTube channel, taking a different route to work, trying a new coffee shop, or going to the movies on the weekend can shake up your set routine enough to eliminate some boredom.

Find a Creative Hobby

As well as helping you stay in the present, which, as we know, is excellent for reducing stress levels, taking time for creative hobbies serves as an outlet for pent-up emotions and helps you feel accomplished. Both letting go of hurtful emotions and the satisfaction of creating something can bring relief to your life and build your resilience. So go ahead and get writing, crafting, drawing, or painting!

Organize Yourself

Sometimes stress comes from feeling like you don’t have any control over your life. You can foster a sense of control, under certain circumstances, by creating a schedule to help you stay above your to-do list and guarantee you’re always aware of what needs to be checked off your list of daily goals.

Take in the Beauty of Nature

Being out in nature melts away stress and gives you an avenue to bounce back from challenging moments in your life. The remarkable beauty and complexity of nature pulls you out of your head and brings you into the present moment, so you stop focusing on your problems for a little while and focus on more fulfilling aspects of life.

Reframe Your Perspective

Shifting how you think is easier said than done and requires consistency, but by challenging yourself to view unfortunate situations through a different lens and find a silver lining, you can keep stress at bay. For example, instead of grumbling about a long commute to work, you can use it as an opportunity to listen to audio books or catch up on current events. And though it doesn’t diminish your own grievances, you can remember someone always has it worse. 

Luke Miles | Staff Writer

Winter 2023

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