It is not stress that overwhelms us, it is our reaction to it.
The end of the school year brings with it a LOT of opportunity for stress for the entire family unit. For students it is finals and year-end activities, for teachers it is finishing up all the skills and knowledge they needed to impart, for parents it is the stress that comes along with transitions such as school schedule to camp schedule, or having kids home more….however it is affecting you – 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! (Or making sure to get enough sleep, but perhaps not realistic this month.) Especially with the summer weather finally here, staying hydrated and keeping our body functioning at its highest ability, is crucial.
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.
Next would be prioritizing. 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, and counselor. 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 put the baby to bed. The order 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 is the appropriate order. Unfortunately, sometimes this can mean putting certain roles that we really want to focus on, in second place. For example, our ‘friend’ that being second and missing a birthday party to study for SATs.
And lastly, SELF CARE! 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 etch out the time for doing things you enjoy, and the higher the stress, the more time needs to be found. This may be the hardest step of them all, but it will also have the highest return on investment. Some examples are: talking to a friend, using positive self-talk, increasing time spent with friends, exercise, making to-do lists, journaling, asking for help or advice, preparing in advance, listening to music, reading a book, relaxation breathing, removing oneself from a stressful situation, 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. firstname.lastname@example.org 773.478.6000www.madraigosmidwest.org
￼Have A Great, Stress-Free Start Of Summer!