Taking Charge: A Practical Guide to Managing Personal Stress & Anxiety
A letter from Maritzburg College’s School Counsellor, Ms Renee Wulfsohn
Dear Parents and Members of the College Community
Taking Charge: A Practical Guide to managing Personal Stress and Anxiety.
While you are in lockdown, isolated (many with concurrent babysitting tasks!) and still doing your utmost to carry out your teaching in a different and often difficult fashion, you may be feeling incredibly stressed, across all levels.
Most stress results from a disconnect from your true self. So it is logical that, as a group, we began this journey with Know Yourself, which was unchartered waters for some, while others resonated with what they were hearing. For all, though, knowing oneself is a lifelong journey – and you may remember the analogy of going on a trip with someone annoying to illustrate how, in fact, one is stuck with oneself for life! Thus, beginning with knowing oneself can lead to acceptance of certain aspects of who we are, recognition of changes required within and the finding of direction in undertaking this essential work.
A brief reminder of the second part of our series On Being Grounded covering ways to maintain a solid foundation to work off at all times, which follows on, considering that one needs to remain connected to one’s true self – to avoid stress levels rising. The latest offering in this series, entitled The Importance of Balance continues here.
Let’s look at balance then. Speaking honestly, there’s no better time to talk about balance than during this uncertain existence known globally as Lockdown. It is safe to say that this is a new experience for all of us. Don’t be surprised if you have been feeling shifts in your emotional landscape. Without going into the daily tribulations of this isolation, suffice to say that the ground also feels very uneven for the most resilient humans. Balance has arguably never been more important! What exactly is meant when ‘balance’ is referred to?
A good starting point to define any concept is to eliminate what you know it not to be. In this case, balance doesn’t refer to juggling or keeping a number of balls in the air simultaneously. Instead, it refers to an inner state of constancy or stability.
Existing in a state of balance will enable you to:
- face uncertainty;
- overcome hurdles;
- remain productive and replace reactions with responses
- learn to let feelings appear and float by without engaging.
- witness how an experience plays out without engaging it
- resist taking things personally.
Ways in which to create inner balance:
- Remember to live in the now! Trying to control events and project what may or may not happen in the future in the midst of a pandemic is going to create stress. Within reason, take each day at a time.
- Quieting the mind – reflecting. Meditate if you can as it frees your mind.
- Maintain a routine of sorts in a general sense. Do what you can when you can and don’t judge yourself.
- Strive for mental and emotional contentment. Practice gratitude and consciously be thankful for what you do have.
- Cultivate directness – Not trying to escape or run away but rather to be functional no matter what. Take it on the chin and don’t hide in a state of denial.
In trying times especially those of a global pandemic, you are hit from all sides by negativity, information overload, mass fear, anyone and everyone’s thoughts and opinions. It is easy to slip into absorbing the frequencies around you, taking on a negative or frenetic energy from others. This will soon affect sleep patterns. A tired person is an emotionally weakened person. Be selective about what you watch and listen to.
Try not to leave news programmes looping.
- Keep to your lane – don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t get drawn into anything that doesn’t serve you
- You can’t pour from an empty cup – Don’t overgive anywhere you aren’t even getting basics back
Keep in mind that you and your family are living in the eye of the storm, in many ways. It seems that the global crisis situation we all find ourselves in is recalibrating our world. It is important to recognise that you are doing your best in trying circumstances. Count your blessings such as being able to save petrol, spending quality time with your children/parents and hearing the birds sing.
In a state of balance, it is possible to step back from hearing something or feeling something and create a space in which one is the observer, and this can prevent you being impacted or affected negatively. It gives you time to consider the full picture calmly while you decide how you want to respond. Yo-yoing from one emotion to another is very draining and weakens the immune system – to be avoided at all costs. When balanced, it is much easier to shift focus from a problem to the solution. As stress is the human body’s natural go-to state when pressure rises in one way or another, it is essential to have ready strategies to utilise under these conditions.
In conclusion and above all, build in time for you each day – no matter what!