Fall ushers in beautiful color, long shadows and cooler weather. Parents and kids thrive with the routine of school. This fall is anything but typical as we grow even more weary of the pandemic. We worry about finances and fret as to whether to send kids to school or stay virtual. With wildfires and hurricanes of epic proportion and a looming election, it seems the social fabric of our country is being ripped to shreds. In these stressful times, how do we find solid ground?
|Photo Credit: Nik Shuliahin|
TOM: We have found it helps to understand that men and women often handle stress differently. (Excuse a little biology here and of course, there are exceptions to every generalization.) Stress causes the release of adrenalin, the "fight or flight" hormone in everyone. But, men are more likely than women to fight back or to repress feeling stressed and often choose to escape into something familiar or predictable. I dislike confrontation and what better escape this time of year than football. Getting lost in football -- games, blogs, fantasy and football conversations with family and friends provide me great relaxation and comfort.
MF: When Tom escapes into his football world, I assume he is oblivious to reality and am frustrated that I have to deal with it all.
In women the adrenalin surge is tempered by oxytocin, the "nesting and nurturing" hormone. When stressed I see myself as inadequate and my To-Do list swells. Canning and freezing garden produce, planning for the future, making masks for family and friends and reading incessantly to stay on top of this pandemic keep my hands and mind occupied. But doing all this stuff is not always relaxing and deep down I want nothing more than to be held and comforted and to know that things will be OK.
Our different ways of responding to uncertainty and chaos can add to our stress and create distance between us. We have found 7 Steps that provide understanding, comfort, confidence and solid ground on which to stand during times of stress.
|Photo Credit: Almos Bechtold|
- Pause, Reflect and Breathe. When we pause, reflect and breathe we can often find a glimmer of hope.
- Talk with Each Other. We can't read minds. Reflecting enables us to choose words that heal, not hurt.
- Be Open and Vulnerable. When I realize Tom, too, is stressed, I do not feel so all alone.
- Really Listen. We go beyond the words to see and hear the fear, anxiety, judgments of inadequacy and the need to protect in the words that we share.
- Don't Should -- Don't Shame. We respect our different ways of dealing with stress. We accept that our need to shut down is different.
- Comfort, Support and Affirm. We ask each other, "What do you need from me today?"
- Live and Love in the Moment. We don't fast forward. No one can predict the future.
In this Fall of uncertainty, we hope that practicing these 7 Steps will instill in your heart the truth that you are loved just as you are. Let this knowledge and the realization that you are in this together be your rock during these stressful times.