20 Tips To Reduce Stress In A Conflict-Filled World

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Health And Wellness

Is the current level of conflict in our society stressing you to the point of shutting down? Luckily, you can learn how to reduce stress.

In a recent yoga class, the teacher asked what it would be like to face conflict with ease. What a good question!

The concept of ease feels very remote these days.

As a response to stress and conflict, my clients report a lot of intentional and unintentional numbing, ranging from confusion, exhaustion, and depressive symptoms to actions like oversleeping, binge eating, and drinking or drugging.

What would it be like for you, right now, if you could face the conflicts in your life with ease?

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Learning how to reduce stress is an essential survival skill in these times.

When parts of you are numbing, unfocused, and shutting down, you ultimately want to escape the conflict and feel better. Unfortunately, when you numb out, the pain still exists underneath.

The seemingly sensible action of numbing that tries to avoid what hurts actually sets you up to experience more hurt, less joy, and even deep shame.

Without a sense of ease, it’s easy to lose yourself.

When parts of you take over to "save you" through avoidance of some kind, you're really not able to face conflict — or anything else, for that matter.

The parts of you that try to save you from constant stress will also shut out sensations of joy, productivity, clarity, and connection.

So, what can you do to respond with ease when you feel angry, upset, violated, embarrassed, incredulous, bullied, hurt, shocked, affronted, or intimidated?

It’s a good idea to take care of your nervous system and give yourself lots of breaks when you feel flooded, panicked, or overwhelmed.

But it’s not a good plan to consistently step back and avoid anything that feels difficult or conflictual, as if you can simply "rise above it all."

This behavior is similar to spiritual bypassing, the tendency to use spiritual ideas or practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, moving into a pseudo-calm that ignores very real problems and issues.

While it may feel good for a moment, avoidant behavior during times of conflict is not true feelings of ease.

Ease, in these situations, is the freedom that leads to a sense of naturalness. You can be who you are, at any moment, by loosening the constraints inside you just enough to be authentically you.

In this way, you have choices and freedoms, rather than being captive to your fear and pain.

If you want to know how to reduce stress in a conflict-filled world, here are 20 tips to get started.

1. Journal every day.

Every day, take a moment to write down all of your current feelings — the strongly felt and not so obvious.

2. Talk to yourself.

When you feel strongly about something, say it out loud to yourself.

Nod your head to show you get it.

3. Be present.

Sit quietly for at least one minute each day, simply noticing that you are right here.

4. Try breathing exercises.

If you’re able to, place one hand on your heart and the other on your cheek. Breathe.

5. Face your fears.

Notice if you have any fears inside.

Imagine the strongest, kindest person you know holding that fear with compassion. This may even be you!

6. Normalize your feelings.

Remind yourself each day that your feelings are a normal part of your body.

7. Stay out of negativity.

Picture conflict coming toward you. Then, picture yourself staying present while also taking two steps to the side to avoid directly experiencing the negative energy.

8. Don't jump into actions.

When you're flooded with anger, fear, or frustration, allow yourself as much time as you need to get back to feeling like yourself before you take any action.

9. Get moving.

Move your body in as many ways as possible every single day.

10. Literally, shake it off!

When the jitters come on, shake your body vigorously. Then, offer yourself the hugest hug you can.

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11. Remember that you can do hard things.

Create a support group with at least one friend to remind each other as often as needed.

12. Use your voice.

When you feel stressed, allow yourself to audibly sigh, groan, moan, hum, etc.

Seek out the vibration in your body that feels most soothing.

Repeat.

13. Write down your core belief for your life.

For example, I stand for compassion.

Remember it when you feel conflict and allow your stance to be your safe guide.

14. Check your language.

Notice if your own inner voice is fueling your stress. Kindly ask it to give you a break.

15. Offer yourself at least one pleasure daily.

This may be as simple as a smile in the mirror, a bubble bath, reading a joke, or taking time for a hobby.

16. Play with perspective.

What would it feel like to be in the other person’s shoes? Or observing the conflict as a bystander?

Or watching it from above or from 50 years in the past or future?

17. Notice the smallest things in nature.

This can include birds, bugs, and even dirt.

Imagine the fungal layer under the ground. Notice the fluidity and variation in nature.

Where do you fit in?

18. Get inspired.

Read words that inspire you, rather than hopelessly inflame you.

19. Listen to music.

Create a playlist that expresses your more difficult feelings.

Then, create another one that feels totally peaceful.

20. Remember that you're human.

Embrace the fact that you're human with humility, responsibility, compassion, and love.

Experiment with one or all of these ideas.

Allow them to guide you to your own ease, using methods of staying present naturally during this time.

Your own style and personality will guide you as you practice ease.

Soon, you can create a list of personal ease-making behaviors, supports, and skills.

As you do so, you will begin to trust not only yourself, but your capability to survive and thrive — even in difficult times.

Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. It’s never a bad idea to reach out to a therapist, mentor, coach, spiritual advisor, or someone you trust.

RELATED: 18 Quick Ways To Relax Instantly, According To Science

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Ingrid Helander is a marriage and family therapist. For more information on her services, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

This article was originally published at Ingrid Helander LMFT Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.