Have you watched the news lately? There are severe weather alerts with school closures, financial turmoil, healthcare crisis, social distancing, racial injustices, and the loss of thousands of lives impacting billions. WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A STORM!
As we soak all of this in, we realize that our heart is beating just a little bit faster and our minds are consumed with thoughts of the uncertainty of the future. Consciously aware of the present state, we all must try to figure out the equation of managing such chaos, while navigating the realms of being a woman. Things can become very overwhelming and stressful at times. The impact can be draining, robbing you of sleep, energy, and potentially enjoyment. So what is a viable remedy?
This past fall and winter were tough seasons for me. I was long OVERDUE for a vacation! I was in complete BURNOUT MODE, working over 60 hours a week, getting about four hours of sleep at night, rehabilitating my rambunctious toddler who had emergency surgery, finding out my sister-n-law suddenly passed away, and trying to wrap my head around my father being diagnosed with cancer. I felt like the walls were closing in on me with no outlet. The only relief I saw was two weeks of vacation. Oh how I was looking forward to a much-needed break, but those two weeks never came because…
Next thing I knew it was March and the bombshell of shelter in place and school closures was added to my LONG LIST of worries. My youngest son had speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy appointments each twice a week, all virtual, and I was in charge of teaching him Braille and how to use a cane with no personal training. MY MIND WAS B.L.O.W.N. A balancing act of work, home schooling, virtual appointments, and maintaining a happy marriage with my husband while each of us worked opposite shifts was not what took me out. However, do you know what did? TOILET PAPER. Toilet paper was my tipping point. As funny as that may sound, something as minute as not being able to locate toilet paper during the pandemic made me irate.
THE SNAP BACK
How many of us have had moments where we find ourselves snapping due to simple things? Trust and believe your emotions are not just tied to that event but usually a compilation of things. I can embarrassingly admit to you in one day I went to over 25 stores in search of toilet paper, that was obviously sold out EVERYWHERE!! At the last store, I got back into my car, hit my horn, and sat back and CRIED. I felt defeated, exhausted, discouraged, and outright EMOTIONALLY OVERWHELMED! My crying then turned into a chuckle and then a hysterical laugh. Yes, I was laughing at myself! That laugh was the BEST Thing I could have done for myself. My laughter calmed, centered, and grounded me. Laughing made me realize that I will be ok, my family will be ok, and WE ALL will get through this. I now try to make sure I get to laugh at least once a day. An intentional laugh with a focus on this storm shall pass, bringing a brighter day.
THREE SIMPLE TOOLS
Being able to find calmness, that sense of stillness in the moment, can assist in releasing undesirable tension that tends to build. Taking an inward glance at your emotions is an essential aspect in the journey of learning personal, anxiety provoking triggers and when intervention may be needed. Below are three simple tools that may be helpful in moments you feel an intervention is due.
#1 ⇢ Just breathe
Breathe through the moment.
Who would have thought that breathing can be effective in reducing stress? Every day we breathe regularly without much thought. However, how we breathe can be centrally tied to our current mood. When we are upset or anxious our breathing is usually a lot faster than our normal rhythm. Intentional breathing targets the parasympathetic nervous system to assist the body in calming. Hence, breathing exercises may help in interrupting your train of thought, thereby quieting mental noise.
#2 ⇢ Get a Calming Ritual.
Feed your soul to find a sense of calm.
During stress the way our mind may drift is strongly connected to our emotional strength. Good thing is through self-awareness we can take control of our emotions. Starting and ending the day with something that brings warmth, relaxation, or satisfaction can promote the stabilization of serotonin and dopamine in the body. These two jewels are happy chemicals, which assist in mood elevation. You might be surprised how having a “calming” routine added to your daily repertoire has an invigorating effect on you! Here are some simply wonderful suggestions to incorporate calmness into your morning and night:
1. Drink Tea
2. Take a walk
3. Play a song you love
6. Do a yoga pose or stretch
7. Snuggle with someone or something
#3 ⇢ Find ways to laugh.
A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.-William Arthur Ward
It’s not a joke that laughter can be therapeutic. As women, we are bombarded with a great deal of responsibility balancing our professional, social, and personal lives. To combat the daily stress, you can use the natural medicine of laughter to improve your mood and increase both mental and physical health. A time out is given to the brain from worrying thoughts when laughter is evoked. The brain produces feel good chemicals known as endorphins, which help decrease the amount of stress hormone “cortisol” in your body’s circulation pool. Not only does a hearty laugh decrease stress, it provides relief of physical tension through muscle relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and can boost your immune system!
What are some ways we can distract ourselves from stress through laughter? Here’s how:
1. Giggle at yourself
2. Tickle or play with kids
3. Watch a funny video, meme, or movie
4. Joke around with your significant other or friends
Try it out. Take a moment and find a way to make yourself laugh….. Think of the funniest, laugh out loud moment that happened to you within the past month. After laughing, be mindful of how you feel. Hopefully, the feeling involves being less tense, more light, and displaying a smile.
There are some things you learn best in calm and some in storm.
It doesn’t look like the storm of our current realities are slowing any time soon, and we all have hectic days. Stress is a normal part of life and it is definitely useful to have small jewels to assist you through rough patches and help smooth the edges. The last thing we ever want to do is continuously allow our stressors to pile and become too overwhelming to bare. We cannot control all the crazy in the world, but we can control how we love and take of ourselves. These 3 techniques may not completely take away our anxiety and worry, but try at least one today to put yourself on the road to achieving much needed calmness in the midst of this crazy storm we call life.
Lola was born in Houston, Texas. She is married and is a proud parent of two handsome boys. Lola graduated from Dillard University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. In 2009, she joined the United States Army as a Registered Nurse and is now a Major, currently serving. She earned her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration in 2013, and is working towards a dual Master’s of Science in Nursing in Education and an Advance Practice Registered Nurse in Psychiatric Nursing.
Lola has served in a variety of positions including Assistant Chief Nurse/Interim Chief Nurse, Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, Nurse Case Manager, ABA therapy technician, Counselor for children with special needs, and presently Chief of Curriculum Development for the Behavioral health Training Program at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Lola is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Nursing Honor Society, American Nursing Association, and American Psychiatric Nursing Association.