For over a year now, we have been navigating extreme uncertainty. The hyper vigilance of staying safe, piloting constant change, and the effects of isolation and loneliness, have taken a toll. Fears and insecurity can create chronic stress which negatively impacts mental health. Stress levels are at an all-time high for young people too!
As adults, we know there is no magic involved in taking care of ourselves. It requires practice, patience, and a lot of self-forgiveness. If you have let your self-care fall by the wayside recently, fear not! It is never too late to integrate self-care into your daily routine. Likewise, it is never too late or too early to encourage, and talk about self-care with your mentee. You can help your mentee understand stress and share techniques to calm themselves.
Everyone is impacted by stress. Not all stress is bad – like the stress caused by a looming deadline. However, unmitigated stress like that caused by trauma, grief, anxiety, fear, or uncertainty can negatively impact one’s well-being and even become toxic. Helping your mentee recognize when they are feeling stressed is the first step.
Managing stress requires mindfulness and change. Often when we are stressed our inner dialogue becomes negative and things might be perceived as worse than they really are. We have the power to reduce our stress response by altering that inner dialogue. These coping thoughts can help.
Deep breathing can greatly lessen stress and anxiety. By breathing slowly and more deeply from your stomach, you signal your nervous system to calm down. Share this simple and very effective breathing exercise with your mentee – https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing#slowly-exhale.
- Acknowledge your stress. Recognize collective anxiety, stress and grief. Don’t try to control things that are not in your control.
- Schedule your worry. Decide how much time you will allow yourself to “stress” and set a timer. When the bell rings, Change your thoughts to something else.
- Write it down. Take out a piece of paper and pen and just write all your stresses down. Afterwards, crumple it up and throw it away.
- Avoid people who stress you out. Avoid news and social media that stress you out too.
- Look at the big picture. Step outside your thoughts by taking a step back, try looking at things from a different point of view. Adjust your standards and expectations.
- Do something you enjoy every day! Even if it is only for a short time. Refocusing and relaxing have positive effects on your physical and mental health.
- Exercise. Move your body regularly.
- Meditate. It reduces stress, increases concentration and happiness, slows aging and increases cardiovascular health and the immune system.
- Practice gratitude daily.
It is always helpful to talk with a friend! You may be able to help your mentee combat stress just by listening to them express their worries and anxieties. As always your Seedling Mentor Director is available if you have questions.
The above information was shared at our April Monthly Training by Karen Ranus, Executive Director of NAMI. https://namicentraltx.org/