My First Line of Defense Against Stress-induced Burnout — ‘Know Thyself — Love Thyself’
Finding balance by establishing personal comfort zones
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. ~Anne Lamott
Finding, maintaining, and keeping our physical, mental, and emotional balance during times of stress and anxiety is as tricky as finding a perfectly secluded bench on which to sit, relax, and recharge our frayed minds and hearts.
But before we get to the part about managing our stress, let’s first identify what the likely causes of our stress are.
Origins of Stress
Life at the best of times has its own set of stresses. However, when those stresses are compounded by situations beyond our ability to foresee or control, the pressure rises in our lives. Are you affected by any of these?
- Financial crisis
- Death of a loved one
- School pressures
- Caregiving responsibilities
- Strained relationships
- Loss of job
- Natural disasters or severe weather
- Political upheaval
- Social unrest
- Mental health
- Health crisis and health care
- Buying or selling a home
- Family concerns
- Toxic relationship
- Romance/Love relationships
- Broken friendships
- coworkers and job tensions
And the list just keeps going…
We all need a line of defense that is readily accessible to us and that can help us to combat and cope with the barrage of stress-inducing factors in our lives. This line of defense needs to be easily implemented, cost-effective, and compatible with our present circumstances. Most of all, it needs to fit us personally and ultimately provide the moments of comfort we all desperately need. So how do we establish our comfort zones of defense?
This really isn’t hard. We all know what makes us feel calm, happy, secure, and safe. It isn’t possible to make an exhaustive list because that list would need to be different for each person. However, there are some basics that seem to work for the majority of us and that can be adapted to fit our personal circumstances. The key is to Know Thyself and Love Thyself. I’m not advocating selfishness. The truth is though, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.
Love Thyself — Establishing comfort zones
Toxic comfort zones: Most of us would agree that one of the biggest mistakes we can make in life is establishing toxic comfort zones. What are some of these? My list would include dependence on drugs, alcohol, the internet, gambling, excessive buying, and constant pleasure-seeking. You may have other pursuits to add to this list. Whatever goes on your toxic list needs to be avoided at all cost!
Balance through healthy comfort zones: Comfort zones are easily recognized through their familiarity, routine, and set of patterns. Specific things fill these categories for each one of us and will differ from person to person. That’s because what is considered comfort for one person may be discomfort for another. Our job is to identify and establish in our personal lives the ones that work best for us.
Browse through the following list of basic comfort zones and precepts. Some you may already have established and others may be adapted and used to fit your needs.
Support — Recognize those people who genuinely want to support and help you live a productive and happy life. Nurture those relationships.
Be open to new areas of healthy comfort zones — For instance, you may have thought that cooking was boring but suddenly have a curiosity and desire to try your hand at some culinary arts. There is no legal limit to appropriate and healthy comfort zones.
Favorite foods — When favorite foods are enjoyed with comfortable friends or family, an aura of peace and tranquility permeates the occasion.
The presences of cherished objects — A comfortable chair, favorite picture, handmade throw, treasured teacup, or much-loved book can all be objects that give us comfort when we see or use them.
Routines — When we keep routines that improve aspects of our lives we are comforted. These may be exercise, healthy eating, recreation times, spiritual routines, and others.
Lounging — Whether we lounge in silence or surround ourselves with music, we are comforted. The pure luxury of doing nothing gives us permission to relax.
Walking through nature — These two things when combined produce an unusual amount of comfort.
Spending time at home with family — This gives us a sense of being in our own special place. We feel cocooned and separate from the stresses and anxieties outside.
Spending time with pets — Animal lovers swear by this method of relaxation and comfort.
Interact with nature — Go barefoot in the grass or along a beach. Stargaze at night. Fly kites on a windy day. Dance in the rain. Bask in the sun.
When we learn to love ourselves, establish our comfort zones, and manage the stresses of life, we are then able to be a source of love and comfort to others. This, in itself, will add another comfort zone to our list and further benefit our own happiness.