Learning to Eat the Elephant of Stress

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Every day of our lives we encounter stress, both good and bad. Recently though, with the Covid-19 crisis, we are encountering it more than ever before.

Its an ELEPHANT! Times have gotten a little strange lately with Covid-19. We can’t make that late night grocery run, load up and go to our favorite restaurant, go to the movies, the hair salon or grab a coffee with a friend. Its an ELEPHANT! It’s a big huge pile of all the things we cannot do. Thanks for that right?! But here’s the good news: when we feel stress from not being able to do things we want to do, or even need to do, we eat the elephant. Elephants are huge, how could I ever eat one? If you are like me, you see the enormity of the task and want to give up instead of tackle it. Its too stressful to think of all the work it takes to accomplish all we need to do. We have to take small bites. We make a list. We schedule. We plan. We struggle. And we try again. What can we do to reduce the stress of this elephant meal?

Breathe. Yes, yes.. deep breathing, mindful breathing, we have all heard about it. I always wrote off breathing work until I was desperate enough to try it. Focusing only on breath, feeling it come in and out of our body. Paying attention to how being nourished by the oxygen in our environment feels. Its grounding and centering. I recommend trying a breathing or meditation apps which include guided breathing exercises such as Headspace or Abide.

Grounding. Grounding is direct and uninterrupted contact with the earth. There is growing research indicating many positive effects. It can reduce inflammation and chronic pain, increase energy, lower stress and promote calmness, normalize blood pressure, and relieve tension headaches. Two simple ways to ground or “earth” yourself: walk outside barefoot, or swim in a natural body of water. Don’t we always sleep better when we have been at the beach with our toes in the sand and wading in the water?

Laugh! One of my favorite movies is The Money Pit. Poor Walter and his girlfriend buy a huge home, only to find out it is falling apart around them. They keep fixing things to find the next thing goes wrong immediately. In one scene, the bathtub falls through the ceiling and onto the floor below. Walter looks down and starts laughing hysterically. You might think he would cry, but there comes a point where laughter is needed. I believe life would be tragic if it weren’t funny. Laughter releases endorphins, lowers stress, and oxygenates the blood. Find your favorite comedy, stand-up comedian, or my personal favorite, Impractical Jokers, and laugh!

Move. Ya’ll, lets get up off that couch! I don’t want to any more than the next warm, happy. couch potato, but its worth it. Exercise releases the same endorphins as laughter. Walk, run (I have a sticker on my van that says 0.0, that’s how much I run), Jazzercise, do whatever it takes to get your heart pumping and the blood moving a little. Elle Woods says, “Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands — they just don’t.” With all this shelter in place stuff happening, I can use all the help I can get not killing my husband, or anyone for that matter (kidding .. maybe).

Pray. It seems our foundation has been shaken and trying to build a sense of normalcy is stressful. A deeper look however, will reveal we often work with a shaky foundation when leaning only on ourselves. God is our firm foundation, when our lives are based in Him, we have all the support needed. Keep your eyes fixed on the One who set the world in motion and know that He has his eye on the sparrow and on you.

We are ALL struggling right now, but know these easy and free things you can do to manage the stress of your elephant meal exist. This is just a gentle reminder for you today. It will all be OK.

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