It is not stress that overwhelms us; it is our reaction to it.
The end of the school year and the summer, in general, brings with it a lot of opportunity for stress for the entire family unit. For students it is finals, year-end activities, needing to pack for camp and so on. For parents, it is the stress that comes along with transitions such as going from the school-year schedule to the camp schedule, planning a family trip, or having your children home more often, etc. However stress is affecting us – how can we react to stress so that it shouldn’t overwhelm us?
First and foremost, it is important to understand that the stress reaction is an incredibly physical and biological one. Many people are familiar with the ‘fight or flight’ response of our body, but not many people know that this applies even to smaller stressors in life. Our heart-rate can increase, our focus can be more split, our appetite change – all due to what is going on around us this month. The best place to start is by thinking how exactly our body is reacting to the stress, and what are some ways to resolve it. For example, the easiest and most beneficial coping method is staying hydrated! Especially with the summer weather finally here, staying hydrated and keeping our body functioning at its highest ability, is crucial. Obtaining enough sleep is also extremely important.
The next steps would be to identify exactly what is it making us stressed. The feeling of being overwhelmed is incredibly hard to address when one does not know what they are addressing. ‘Everything is overwhelming’ maybe feels good to say because life can sometimes feel that way, but to actually break down and figure out what needs to be dealt with is a lot more practical and doable.
After you have identified what is making you stressed, the next step would be to list your priorities. Time management is a very important skill and worthwhile to develop, but it also takes a lot of practice. An easy way to accomplish this is to think about what ‘roles’ or ‘responsibilities’ we have and to prioritize accordingly. For example, a person can be a student, sister, daughter, Jew, counselor, etc.. Sometimes it is important to put our ‘daughter’ hat on and help for Shabbos, with our ‘student’ hat being secondary and studying for our final after we help. Or on the flip side sometimes our ‘student’ hat must come first in that we have to study and not be a ‘sister’ and help out around the house. The orders of these roles are constantly changing, often based on outside demands. It is important to define our roles in terms of their responsibilities and what the appropriate order is. Unfortunately, sometimes this can mean putting certain roles that we really want to focus on, in second place.
Lastly, self-care is essential to this process! We can only take care of all the outside demands of life as well as we are making sure to take care of ourselves. Figure out what works for you, what relaxes you, what makes you feel good, and when times get tough – get tougher! Make sure to carve time out for doing things you enjoy. Remember: the higher the stress, the more self-care time needs to be made. Some examples are talking to a friend, positive self-talk, exercise, journaling, listening to music, reading a book, relaxation breathing, and more.
And of course, if we are still having a hard time coping with stress and circumstances, it may be worthwhile to reach out to a professional. Madraigos Midwest has many highly sensitive and compassionate professionals available 24/7 to help speak things out and brainstorm. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.478.6000. ￼
HAVE A GREAT AND STRESS-FREE SUMMER!