Needing a Giant Reset? Combatting Daily Stress with Effective Tools by Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC

Managing a new business, a struggling economy, and the exhaustion of surviving the pandemic, while taking care of three kids, has taken a toll on my body and my emotions. This summer has been a step back in many things to reflect on and recuperate. I know that I am not alone in this feeling. I have been to conferences and spoken to people across the country that are feeling burnt out and carry this existential dread about the future. So how do we carry these feelings? How do we help each other? What are some ways to reset? I began a quest to find out these

answers specifically for myself, and in modeling the things I have learned, I hope to help my clients, my staff, and any other people with which I have interacted.

I recently read a book called “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by the Nagoski sisters. It has validated the feelings we are having collectively as a society and given some great insight into how to cope. We have constant stress and stressors. The stressors are bills, family dynamics, or a difficult boss. Many times, the stressors are ongoing and ever-changing. The stressors will continue to pile up, but in order to deal with the stress in your body, or complete the stress cycle, we must do something with the energy in our bodies. Here’s a few ideas:

1. Physical exercise

When we are threatened, we run. Running itself produces endorphins that help reduce other stress hormones. If running isn’t your thing, try a dance class, yoga or Pilates classes, some weightlifting, rapid walking, or biking.

2. Breathwork

We all breathe, right? But being conscious of a slow inhale and exhale from your belly can make all the difference throughout the day.

3. Creative outlets

This covers drawing, music, gardening, or dancing in your living room. Pick one or do them all.

4. Positive social interaction

Smile at the barista. Compliment a co-worker. When we are friendly, we are reminding ourselves, that the world is a safe place to be.

5. Affection

A 20-second hug that supports your weight with someone you trust, will lower your blood pressure and heart rate and change your mood.

6. Crying/Laughter

A big cry is a release. Belly laughter is also another form of release. Comedy shows or sappy/sad movies can induce this.

All these things are not “fixing” the stressor issues, but it allows us to move the stressful energy through our bodies and complete a cycle. Many ask, “How will I know when I’ve completed the cycle?” Our bodies tell us. You will feel a shift. You feel better when you have completed a meal or a workout. I have put many of these into practice for daily living. I love to garden in the early mornings before anyone is up, it’s quiet and I practice my breathing and enjoy being in nature.

Find what works for you and put it into practice, especially as you set goals for the upcoming year. Listen to your body. As you know, the stressors are here to stay, but you can move through the stress and complete the cycle.