4 Healthier Ways to Cope with Chronic Stress

For some of us, eating popcorn became a new, almost daily habit over the past year. Someone in the house always seemed to have eaten the last of the ice cream. And there was just no keeping cookies around.

Coping strategies? Yes. Healthy and effective coping strategies? Not so much.

Negative coping strategies, says psychologist and New York Times columnist Lisa Damour, are ones that help a little in the short-term but they don’t hold up over the long term. Here are four common examples, according to Damour:

Negative Coping Strategies

  1. Emotional retreat. This is what happens when we withdraw from people, cut them off, or avoid them.
  2. Substance misuse. “One of the things that is true about substances is that they are incredibly effective at helping us feel better,” she says. “But if it becomes a regular short-term solution, it doesn’t end up going very well down the line.”
  3. Junk habits. “These are things that we do that we know we’re not supposed to do, like take our phone to bed and scroll and scroll and scroll through it instead of sleeping, or only eating comfort foods, or not getting off the couch.”
  4. Crankiness. This is the age-old-letting-it-fly-at-someone-to-relieve-a-little-stress strategy.

So, what’s the better alternative? Positive coping strategies, says Damour, have the great advantage of working in both the short-term and the long-term. Here are some examples:

Positive Coping Strategies

  1. Seek social connection. “It doesn’t matter how many people you have in your life. What matters is whether you have what you need. To have the social support that sustains you, everybody needs three things. They need someone to tell their worries to. They need somebody to tell their secrets to. And they need someone or a group who helps them to feel connected and accepted.” If you are missing any of those, Damour suggests, make a special effort to find it.
  2. Think about ways to take a break. “Happy distractions are really important for getting through chronic stress conditions. We’ve got years of research that tells us this,” she says. “It is important to check out sometimes, to not think about the headlines, to not think about prevailing conditions, and just let ourselves restore a little bit.”
  3. Practice incredibly disciplined self-care. “This means getting good sleep and taking steps to make sure you can fall asleep at night, maybe by winding down before you go to bed. This means eating well, eating a terrific variety of foods, enjoying foods, enjoying treats. This also means being active. Moving in ways that feel really good and keep your blood flowing, keep you moving.”
  4. Take care of other people. “Taking care of other people actually does help us take care of ourselves,’ says Damour. ‘So, in addition to taking care of ourselves, we want to do what women always do and take good care of other people.”

The bottom line. Positive coping strategies won’t help you eliminate chronic stress. But they will help buffer the psychological impact of chronic stress. So, if the popcorn or chips aren’t doing the trick anymore, try Damour’s tips for a healthier, more effective impact.

Lisa Damour spoke at the 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women. This article is based on her talk. Damour is the author of several books, includingUnder Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.

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Submissions Open for QVC & HSN’s The Big Find

The search is on for The Big Find! Submissions are officially open for QVC and HSN’s international search to discover the next big product across the following categories: apparel, jewelry, accessories, footwear, beauty, home décor, culinary (including kitchen and food), home innovations, and electronics.

The event will be virtual again this year, which opens this opportunity to brands from around the globe. Entrepreneurs, founders and creators are invited to submit their product and share their story (with a video) on QVC.com or HSN.com, from April 28th through June 8th, for their chance to be QVC and HSN’s next great success story.

Select candidates will be invited to pitch their products virtually in August via videoconference to a panel of QVC and HSN judges, including merchandising executives, program hosts, and brand founders from established QVC and HSN brands.

If an entrepreneur or vendor is identified as a ‘Big Ticket’ recipient, she or he will be invited to continue the product discovery process with QVC or HSN–which includes meetings with merchandising teams and a robust quality assurance process before the brand is chosen to launch on-air and online across all platforms.

As part of QVC and HSN’s commitment to cultivating and promoting diverse, inclusive environments, they are working to double the representation of underrepresented businesses chosen through The Big Find 2021.

Search “The Big Find” on QVC.com and HSN.com to learn more.

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Readers Share: “What My Mom Taught Me”

In honor of Mother’s Day, readers shared stories this month about some of the most important lessons they learned from their mothers. Here are their responses, lightly edited for brevity. Thanks to all who wrote in!

  • “What makes your heart sing? Then do that!” – Emily Bass
  • “Live your life with dignity. My mother grew up in poverty in Mexico and came to America at a young age. No matter what resources we may have lacked growing up, we ALWAYS dressed nice and presentable. Even though she had minimal education, she was always sophisticated and proud and confident. – Elizabeth Herrera
  • “Women don’t have to put up with crap anymore.” – Julie Sarsynski
  • “Hold your head high, and those around you will assume you feel good about yourself…and they will take your lead.” We lost Mom during the pandemic last fall. Mom lived with her head held high, leading the march toward equality for all. She died knowing that on her birthday, January 20th, Kamala Harris would take her seat at the table as the first female Vice President. – Meghan Cary
  • “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” – Stephanie Mills Herod
  • “Live life to the fullest with joy and a smile.” My mom’s can-do attitude and that everything will pass with time still resonate in my head. I am super proud of what she has taught me and how much she has invested in me. – Lalitha Krishnamoorthy
  • “A woman is a cook in the kitchen, a lady in the parlor, a lover in the bedroom, and a leader in the world. And one should not get their rooms confused.” – Miriam Briscoe
  • “Be kind and have faith.” –Elizabeth
  • “Volunteer Service.” I remember watching her volunteering her service within the community as a young girl and realizing she had a voice that could impact change. This was a great lesson not only of words but actions. – Deborah Jones
  • “Be as independent as you can. The more independent you are, the more your happiness is in your hands.” – Lalli Flores Jimenez
  • “To love another, you must first love yourself!” She just passed in September. – Kristine Brugger
  • “Always leave the party when you’re having a good time” I have utilized this advice my whole life, and it has always done me well. It is really all about enjoying the journey and focusing less on the final outcome. – Alison MacCulloch

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What We’re Following – Books, Podcasts, Movies, and TV

With so many fascinating things to read, listen to, and watch, we thought we’d share some we found intriguing lately. A partial roundup from the CFW team:

  • Books. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. “I read this in my book club, and it gave me an entirely new perspective on immigration from Mexico.” (Laura H.) Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong. (Carolyn G.) Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin. “Eerie how history repeats itself. (Laurie W.) Anne Grady’s Mind Over Moment and Amy Morin’s 13 Things Strong Women Do. (Amy C.) “Great reads for Mental Health Awareness month.”
  • Podcasts. Psychologist Alison Gopnick about ‘beginner’s mind’ on the Ezra Klein Show. (Carolyn G.) How to avoid raising entitled kids on Raising Good Humans with Dr. Aliza. (Wendy M.)
  • Movies/TV. Call the Midwife. “At its core it is about women helping women, and that’s what appeals to me most!” (Laura H.) Judas and the Black Messiah. “I’m a big fan of Daniel Kaluuya.” (Laurie W.) Nomadland, “Everyone should see this movie about the importance of varied perspectives and ‘home’ not being the same for everyone.” (Wendy M.)

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