Happy New Year Everyone! We hear so much about new years’ resolutions when a new year is upon us. I have personally, never been a fan of these, as these goals are set up to be way too global, and doomed to failure to start. Life tends to get in the way of these overly large goals that individuals set. Stress is unavoidable, and when the unexpected happens, this is when we tend to derail with ‘new years resolutions’.
Armed with this, I am offering a slightly different approach to understanding how to handle life’s most stressful events, and to keep things much more manageable, so that by the time the end of the year approaches, you will feel that you have succeeded vs. failed.
The following, that I looked up, are the top 7 most stressful life events according to www.thepaindoctor.com (2017):
1. Selling a home. Particularly when you have lived in the home for a long time, and there are emotional ties. This is compounded, when it is a move that you did not anticipate, and you are on a deadline.
2. Standardized testing. High school students that are having to take college entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT, as well as college students trying to get into graduate school having to take the GRE. But this is not just limited to these exams. In careers, where one has to take a state aptitude test in order to work in the field, this can be tremendously taxing.
3. Approaching a person you are interested in romantically. Particularly when you are a shy person, this can be incredibly nerve racking and stressful.
4. Starting a new job. While this can be an exciting new adventure, you may not know what you are up against, and if it is in a new line of work that you do not have a great deal of experience with, this is further compounded.
5. Being a victim of a crime. The feelings of violation and the associated healing time afterwards doubles the stress impact that one will feel. Furthermore, depending on how you are treated afterwards, and the nature of the crime, this could be one that affects an individual for a long time to come.
6. Starting a business. While this can be an exciting time, there are fears attached to it of, ‘will I succeed?’ ‘what if it doesn’t work?’
7. The election years. I don’t think I even need to explain the impact of 2016’s presidential election on the nation. Typically, when there is a big political shift, and it divides the country like that last election certainly did, the stress can seem overwhelming, and like it will never end.
I personally, have experienced the stressful impact just this past year of #4, #6, #7, and am about to go thru #1 (which I have gone thru many times before, so I am a little more prepared for that one).
How does one handle these stressful unexpected events, so that you can keep your expectations realistic, and work on achieving small goals that will spread throughout the year?
1. It is crucial, to practice self-care. What does self-care actually mean? This is thrown around in society like an every day term, and I often find that most folks do not even know how to do it, let alone, what it is. Self-care in my humble opinion, is the art of tending to your needs as a human being. And everyone’s needs are different. Self-care for one person may mean doing absolutely nothing for 20-30 minutes a day, where to another, it is engaging in a hobby or interest at least a few times a week. Decide on what self-care means to you, and practice it regularly. When those needs are neglected, the impact of the 7 mentioned life stressors that you may be experiencing, explodes.
2. Get support. Whether it is seeking out professional help from a counselor or therapist such as myself, and/or joining a support group, don’t wait until it is too late, and the stress is swallowing you.
3. Exercise. For optimal health, the experts recommend at least 150 minutes of continuous exercise per week. This can include strength training, cardiovascular exercise, or participation in a sport. 150 minutes per week can have a tremendous impact on clearing your head, and helping you deal with the impact of the aforementioned stressors.
4. Budget for a massage! I am amazed at how many people will spend money on items that they do not necessarily need (but want), but will not allow in their budgets for this incredibly relaxing experience. Studies have shown time and time again that the positives gained from a therapeutic massage are numerous, and assists in releasing toxins from the body.
5. Budget for a housecleaner! Once again, I am amazed at how many folks will not budget for this one. Yet, are straining constantly to find the time to give the home a good, thorough deep cleaning. My husband and I regularly budget for this, and I cannot tell you how awesome it feels to come home to a scrubbed clean home, that smells amazing, and saves us the time and energy to do other things. Worth every penny, and more.
6. Goes without saying, but eat well. Garbage in equals garbage out. If you feed your body junk, it will output junk. And when you are dealing with unexpected stressful events, this is more crucial than ever. It can be tempting to grab for a bag of cookies, and eat the whole thing when life throws you a blow. But just remember, that, that bag of cookies is not going to solve the stressor. Only, make it worse.
I want to wish everyone a joyous new year, and the very best of luck in navigating any unexpecteds that come your way ?