Being kind to yourself probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you are feeling stressed. Yet experiencing unhealthy levels of stress is something that touches us all. Whatever the major stressor or the root cause of your stress may be, it might make you feel overwhelmed, on edge, or emotionally exhausted.
This can have significantly damaging effects on your performance at work or at school as it can gradually lead you to experience burnout. Burnout reduces productivity, efficiency, and efficacy, as well as the overall level of quality of your work. Feeling constant and excessive stress may also have negative effects on your social life as you might find it difficult to maintain healthy and smooth relationships with the people around you if you are mentally or emotionally drained. Often you may also unintentionally take your stress out on others. If you are constantly stressed out, you may experience physical symptoms as well, like headaches and difficulty in sleep, which may result in fatigue.
Overall, it is without a doubt that excessive stress has harmful effects on your general well-being, on both your mental and physical health, and in many cases, can affect the people around you as well.
Practicing self-kindness and having empathy for yourself instead of blaming or criticizing yourself when you’re going through a difficult time is extremely important for building resilience and overcoming stress.
It’s generally easier to be negative whenever you are stressed. However, if you shift your perspective, and intentionally consider the positive angle, you are more likely to protect yourself and those around you from the vicious cycle of stress. Here are a few tips for how you can practice self-kindness and kindness to others when you are stressed.
1. Try calming your mind (we know this isn’t as easy as it sounds)
A lot usually runs through your mind whenever you are stressed. The daily thoughts that come to mind have the capacity to be overwhelming, and stress you out even more. Understanding where your stress is coming from and recognizing that it’s okay to be feeling the way that you are will help you calm your mind. Calming your mind will allow you to see things more clearly which can help you relax.
2. Practice positive affirmations
It’s very easy to fall into the negative self-talk pattern once you start having negative thoughts. Here’s a quick tip. The things that we think of every day change the structures of our brain in a way that makes it much easier and almost automatic for us to unconsciously think of the same things again. This basically means that the more you tell yourself that you’re a failure, the more you will think of this, and in turn, you will believe that this is actually true even more. This suggests that you have the power to change your thoughts and your perspective on things. With practice, you can train yourself to bring into play self-kindness and compassion, even when you are stressed. You can learn to do so through the practice of positive affirmations. Positive affirmations allow you to celebrate and appreciate the small steps that you take, in order to have a more positive view on your journey. If you find that things get stored in your mind better when you write them by hand, then you can also try to write down what you’re thinking about and replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Having your eyes physically see both the original and the modified, positive thought written down side by side on a piece of paper might help you make sense of how you should be thinking.
3. Take b r e a k s
When you have a long and difficult task that you need to finish, you might think that you don’t have time for breaks, even if you’re tired and stressed out. Taking breaks is one of the most important things to do when it comes to recovering from stress. Taking some time to cool off and decompress is essential. Breaks can protect you from having breakdowns or feeling emotionally exhausted. Listening to your needs, taking some time for yourself, and indulging in a self-care activity is a way of being kind to yourself when you feel that you are under pressure. This will actually increase your productivity and the quality of your performance.
4. Redirect your stress into something constructive
When we feel stressed and overwhelmed, we often unintentionally take out our frustration on the closest people to us. If you feel like your stress levels are increasing, try turning to an activity that will help calm you down. Instead of projecting your stress onto someone, try channeling your feelings out into an activity like exercising, taking a long walk, journaling, singing, song-writing, or whatever helps you unravel your tension. The possibilities are endless, you just need to find the activity that works best for you.
5. Intentionally appreciate the people around you
If you are going through a stressful period, consider your loved ones to be your support system and go to them for comfort or advice. Your friends and family deserve to be treated in a respectful, kind, and loving manner, and so do you. Take moments when you’re feeling stressed to appreciate the people who stick by you, who are willing to hear you share your stressors, and who want to support you. Your circle can make all the difference.