by Matt Kreiner, LCSWA
Your work is stressful. Your family situation is, too. It’s hard to catch a headline or a minute of the evening news without beginning to feel dread for all the things happening in our world and communities. In addition to that, it’s election season! We are flooded with opportunities to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, and some kind of way about our daily experience.
So, what do we do? How do we maintain a sense of calm and positivity when there are so many things we come across in a given day that can drain us of these things? Here are 4 strategies for keeping peace of mind in stressful times:
Seek positivity: Create regular spots in your schedule where you know you are guaranteed to feel good and see healthy, positive messages. Maybe it’s a church service, a softball league, a ride on the motorcycle, or a daily dose of your favorite show. Going through your day knowing you have something healthy and positive to look forward to can be as helpful as the positive thing itself.
Schedule times to unplug: We are inundated with messages. Simply make time in your day not to be. It doesn’t have to be long, but build 10 minutes into your morning or night (or both!) routine to get quiet. Some people like to read a daily reflection book, others meditate, some walk, do push-ups with controlled breathing, or listen to relaxing music. The point is you are intentionally giving your mind time to focus on just one thing. Commit to this time and protect it like the treasure it is. It only works if you eliminate distractions.
Walk in another person’s moccasins: Find one opportunity each day, and if you look there will be plenty, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Truly try to see the world from their perspective. You don’t have to agree. In fact it’s more effective if you don’t. But trying to find a way to understand where someone is coming from makes them and their opinions more human. Take 60 whole seconds and imagine what their life might be like. Is your boss being demanding because they’re a jerk? Or is it possible that they are under pressures you don’t know about at home or at work? Did your uncle really mean to sound that way when he was ranting at the news, or does he feel that way because he’s scared or worried about something else? Being able to really understand someone else’s perspective is a muscle that takes time to build. Practice at least once a day and you’ll notice that you have a lot more patience for your differences – even if their view of the world is miles away from your own.
Own your space: Remember, you can’t control your uncle’s Facebook posts. You can’t control what the other candidate will say. You can’t control the events of the world. You can control how much power you give these things in your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed or run down by any of these things keep a list of things you can control to combat them. You can control what you do next. You can control what you eat, drink, and whether or not you exercise, or get some rest. You can control who you call to talk to, where you volunteer your time, and if you take time to be grateful every day. Keep a list of the healthy actions you can control and refer to it often.
Matt Kreiner, LCSWA is a psychotherapist with the Triangle Center for Behavioral Health in Durham. He specializes in treating those who experience workplace trauma including military, law enforcement, first responders, healthcare providers, and social workers. He lives in Apex with his wife, son, and daughter, and is currently serving as treasurer of the NCSCSW.
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The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by the NCSCSW