Just like how you protect your immune system from secondhand smoke by hanging out in non-smoking areas, you also need to find strategies to protect your emotional immune system. Here are three simple strategies you can use to stop yourself from falling victim to secondhand stress!
1. Know Your Warning Signs
The first thing I want you to do is to understand your warning signs. When we experience heightened stress ourselves, our immune system weakens, and our emotional immune system weakens as well, leaving us more vulnerable to everyone else’s stress. So you’ve got to ask yourself the question, what does it look like when I start to get stressed?
Maybe you notice when you’re agitated with work, you’re not in the mood to talk with your friends and tend to withdraw. Or maybe you notice that after a particular stressful day, you don’t have the energy for your usual hobbies and instead opt for a Netflix binge session. Whatever it may be, start to take note of your ‘warning signs’ that give you a heads up you’re experiencing more stress.
When you notice yourself exhibiting these behaviors, you know it’s time to give yourself more tools for stress-relief and kick your self-care up a notch. By knowing your warning signs and recognizing them before things get too bad, you can be proactive in taking care of yourself.
2. Get Grounded
The second thing you’ll want to do to protect yourself from secondhand stress is get grounded. Getting grounded looks a little different for everyone, but my personal favorite way to ground myself is through my morning routine.
My routine consists of the same three things every morning, and allows me to show up as my best self for the day ahead. These three things are:
- Practicing breathing and stretching exercises
- Practicing my gratitude
- Setting an intention for my day
Part of what makes my morning routine so grounding is that I do all of these things before I check any messages – before reading emails, social media messages, checking texts or engaging with others. This is my sacred time for myself.
By doing these three things each morning before reacting to my day, I get to decide how my day is going to go and how I will spend it. I’m able to consciously make sure that I am proactively taking care of myself, and that I feel connected to my best self.
What feels grounding for me might be different than what feels grounding for you. Maybe your grounding morning routine includes spending time with your family, getting out in nature or engaging in certain hobbies you don’t usually have the time for. Make a list of what you feel more connected to yourself and the world around you, and then make a conscious effort to include those things in your daily routine.
3. Practice Positivity
Lastly, you’re going to want to do your best to practice positivity. Pay attention to your who and what you’re engaging with and paying attention to.
Think back to your last conversation, the last video you watched, what you listen to on the radio, your podcasts, and the accounts you follow on Twitter. Take inventory of all of those interactions, to all of that content, and ask yourself: am I feeding myself more negativity, or more positivity?
If you notice that your information diet is more negative than positive, you need to intentionally find ways to insert more opportunities for positivity into your life. It’s important to remember that EVERYTHING you’re taking in is affecting you: from the books you read to the movies you to the accounts you follow. We may not have someone yell AT us, but watching an angry rant on YouTube where the creator yells through the screen can be just as damaging to our nervous system. We may not be witnessing our family or friends get into an argument, but our brain may read nasty comments of people arguing on social media in a similar fashion.
Monitor your interactions and do your best to bring more opportunity for positivity in your life, while trying to minimize opportunity for negativity.