Monday, November 12, 2018

We're all in this Stress Together

You've heard it said that we are all in this life together, and so it follows that we may also experience stress at the same time as our fellow humans, which makes it also true that making attempts to relieve others of their stress can at the same time help to reduce our own.

Unfortunately, I'm once again writing just after another set of mass shootings in the United States, as well as just after the American midterm elections of 2018.  If you don't think your fellow citizens in the US are stressed out, think again.  This stress has reverberations that travel around the world as well, making people uneasy in every country and small community.

It's tempting to pull inside, close the shutters, and let your anxiety get the best of you, but this is actually not a time for that.  Part of the problem is a growing lack of community and support among people, and so trusting less is not the solution.

Instead, I encourage you to see that it's important right now to lift one another up and support one another so that fear does not get the best us.  There are little things you can do every day that help to reduce the stress of your fellow neighbor.  From complimenting them on something they do well, to thanking them for something they've done for you or for others.

Since the holiday season is coming fast, we will be giving thanks for all that we are grateful for, as well as celebrating a festive and even spiritual idea of what this time of year means to each of us, personally. I encourage you to recognize your connection to others and to heighten your awareness that your stress is a reflection of their stress as well.  Try to do things that help to reduce the stress of others.  In doing so, you recognize you are in this world right alongside them and in reducing their stress, you also reduce your own.

Here are some ideas for you to try that could reduce your stress, and the stress of those around you:

*Consider having a holiday gathering that includes the widest array of diverse people you can think of.  This can bring people together, let those in targeted groups feel welcome, assure others that there are safe places, and remind us all that not every situation must include conflict.

*If you see people in the community who seem frightened right now, find a way to let them know you are a safe person.  That you are not hate filled, rejecting, or unable to discuss an issue or hear a view you disagree with without raising your voice or becoming violent.

*Learn as much as you can about the concept of compromise

*Practice your listening skills which, by the way, are not just sitting silent and nodding.  They include active participation, questions of interest, engaged body language, and requests for clarification so you can more deeply understand what another person is saying.

*Show genuine interest in the views of others and how they came to them.  Even if you disagree.

*Pay compliments to others that are not just about looks, success, money, or accomplishments.  Tell them you loved a meal they made, or thank them for something they did, or let them know what qualities you appreciate about them.

*Let people know what you are hopeful about in life.  Do you see things will get better?  Do you have confidence in your fellow humans?  Are there signs of life you can point out to those who are discouraged?  Don't be a Pollyanna, but if you have a positive outlook, try to help the discouraged see what you see. 

Keep in mind that you are not the only one that is stress out about the way things are going right now in the United States.  However, you are a part of the solution.  By actively participating in bringing down the stress level of those around you, you actively work to bring yours down as well.

Thanks to oatsy40 for the great photo (cropped)