Stress or not to stress. For us, 2020 was a year to remember (or not). We thought 2019 was the year of adversity for us. Chile (African American Vernacular English for child), 2019 was a walk in the park compared to 2020. 2020 was supposed to be the year of the come-up. 2020 fooled us. Below are just a few things my husband and I experienced in 2020.
- A canceled football (soccer) contract
- Relocated to another Emirate
- Communal living situation
- Toxic work environment (me)
- A global pandemic
- No new football (soccer) contract for the new season
- Stranded over 7,500 miles away from home
- Job resignation (me)
- Unemployment at sometime during the year (both)
That’s not everything but these are some of the top stressful life events. All are occurring in the same year within months of each other. Based on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory Assessment found on the American Institute of Stress website, our stress score is 446. According to the Holmes-Rahe statistical prediction model, 300 points or more, there’s an 80% chance of health breakdown in the next two years. All these stressful events can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Take the test for yourself here.
Ask Hard Questions
The sequence of events required a serious talk with myself about my well-being and what needed to change to avoid a mental breakdown. I was asking myself some hard questions about my life.
- Should I stay in Abu Dhabi?
- Stay with Daniel?
- Should I stay at my current company?
- What is my next move?
The answers did not all come at once. As life happened, I received conclusive answers to my life questions.
Abu Dhabi? A canceled flight. Ok, I’ll just reschedule.
Daniel? A closed border (no entering or exiting the Emirate). If that’s not a sign to stay put, I don’t know what it is.
Company? A brusque email from a supervisor with a bureaucratic management style. Bye Felicia!
Next move? Replenish myself.
Unknowingly, the multitude of life events took me out of my element. I needed to be mindful of my inner being. Below are some strategies I utililized to T-H-R-i-V-E during these stressful times:
1) Time Alone
Time in solitude is therapeutic. I’ve always had a ritual of waking up before dawn. Particularly, listening to the still small voice within and jotting things down as they come to me. My thoughts tend to be very clear in the morning. I treasure this time of the day because there are no distractions. I usually light lavender incense and play soft music with a cup of tea. The stillness, smell, and music create a heightened atmosphere. It’s an exceptional practice to counter the stressors of the day and set yourself up for success.
2) Help Others
I could complain about a lot of things (and sometimes I did). Overall, I knew complaining was not going to solve any of our problems. Instead, I made a conscious effort to redirect that energy to help others. One thing we did was donate groceries to an individual who was making food boxes for people who lost their job during the pandemic. Showing acts of kindness brought me immense joy. She would share with us videos of the individuals picking up the food boxes. The smile or the excitement of the person on the receiving end was contagious. Jesus was quoted saying “You’re far happier giving than getting.”
I’ve never had an issue getting eight hours of sleep and on most days an afternoon nap after our daily beach workouts. One day out of the week usually Fridays, I rest the entire day. I sleep until 9 AM. I lose myself watching Modern Family on Netflix or read a good book or Daniel and I get caught up in a discussion about the differences in our countries or the similarities in our rearing. Rest days are carefree. Typically, nothing is planned. We stay at home all day and just go with the flow.
4) Invest in Myself
I’m a self-proclaimed Autodidact. I designate time each day to invest in my personal development. Below are my personal development practices:
- read 30 minutes or more of a personal development book each day.
- watch an inspirational YouTube video or two.
- member of Toastmasters International (leadership and public speaking organization)
- and an online coaching program.
- Currently, I’m taking an online Arabic class and learning Twi, Daniel’s native language.
5) Voice My Confessions & Visualize My Future
Daily I speak positive affirmations over my life. I speak the life I envision myself living. I am mentally preparing myself for the days ahead. Similar to a motivational talk given by a coach before a game. I’m motivating myself for the game of life. I’ll have to admit, it works. After a good night’s rest, time alone with my thoughts, and a pep talk, I’m ready to conquer the day. In addition, I review my vision book daily.
6) Expect Good Things To Happen, Exercise & Eat Healthily
The triple E. I face the day with optimism and I expect good things to happen to me. They normally do. Exercise is a part of my life routine and I try to eat healthy 75% of the time which makes me not only look good but feel good about myself.
These six practices are a part of me. They keep me in high spirits and do wonders for my mental health. I feel fully replenished after conducting these practices. For the most part, my cup is running over with joy, love, peace, and laughter. The way I like it.
What are some practices you utilize to de-stress?