Balance: Creating Room for Resilience
Don’t be ashamed of stress – acceptance opens the doors for strength
By Louisa Stringer, Certified Caregiving Consultant (TM symbol) with Cape Wellness Collaborative
If we all knew how to reduce stress with one simple practice, our lives would be so much easier. During September, October and November, I will be breaking down three elements to resilience and stress reduction that I apply to my work with family caregivers of loved ones.
Hiding from our everyday stress and anxieties has become an art form in our culture. We attempt the impossible by concealing our worries whether it’s endless hours meditating, countless trips to the gym, technology, prescribed medicine, habitual drugs, alcohol, etc. It gets to the point that when the stress shows it’s itself, it becomes shameful because we think it is wrong.
We want to be resilient people. We crave it. We want to be able to spring back into shape after being bent, twisted and compressed from the stress our lives offer us. Instead, most of us crack, splinter or even break because we are too stressed to exercise any resilience. We are ashamed of our brokenness, our stressed out lives, our worries. It’s why we aim to present perfection with our favorite social media of choice, our Christmas cards, our houses, our pictures, our lives.
Step one: acknowledging and accepting your stress
I have had my share of conversations around and in the grips of this struggle for many years. As a Certified Caregiving Consultant™, there are many times I am aware of the stigma around stress in the lives of those caring for loved ones. Stress, worry and anxiety cause that shame. Then that shame triggers more stress. Whatever is causing anxiety, worry or struggles, the first step is recognizing it and not pushing it away. Your struggle, your stress, your anxiousness, they are all valid. Your reality is those feelings you feel in those moments. Acknowledging your feelings, facing them, talking about them, helps diminish the fear and the stigma that comes along with them. And furthermore, by allowing the awareness that you are not alone in this offers a great sense of relief.
Step two: building resilience with room to grow
After this acknowledgment and acceptance, the weight becomes lighter. Having quieted some of the concern, now there is room to build resilience in the space that shame left behind. Permitting that room to grow in resilience is a huge stress reducer.
Resiliency is mental toughness. And having a healthy, strong mental well-being is highly important to our livelihood. In this we are able to create space within us to build strength when we have discarded shame. Our lives will always bring opportunities for stress, worry, and concern, but accepting ourselves as human, flawed, and broken closes the doors to shame and opens the doors to building resilience.
Louisa Stringer, CCC™ is a practitioner and advocate trained in mental health first aid. She offers caregiver support and outreach with Cape Wellness Collaborative, a local non-profit organization which provides free integrative wellness therapies for anyone in the Cape community facing cancer.