Fighting the Good Fight Against Daily Stress

by Jessica Wilkerson, MA, LMFT

​It has officially been a year since our world turned upside down with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Layoffs, reduced hours at work, working from home, masks, illness, loss of friends and loved ones, and the constant reminders of it all over the news and social media.  Even if you haven’t suffered directly from the illness, you’ve been affected by it in multiple ways.  It feels as though everyone is working overtime with higher expectations of themselves and it’s wearing us thin.

Anxiety, stress, fatigue, and burnout affect the ways we interact with others and with our inner selves.  The way we beat ourselves up for not being able to navigate life as effectively as we once did is truly toxic.  We hold ourselves to the same standards as we’ve always been able to accomplish, while we’re living in a world that has shifted and changed.  Somewhere along the way many people came to the conclusion that inner negativity is a good motivator to achieve their goals, and if they can whip themselves into shape then they’ll be able to achieve their dreams.

Unfortunately, all that focusing on what a person is doing wrong doesn’t actually elicit positive change.  Yes, sizing up what needs to change is very important, but then making a plan of action and also identifying what you’re doing well is what gets the momentum going and keeps it going.

​Think of yourself as someone running a race, do the bystanders shout “Boo!  You’re going too slow, pick up the pace, Buster!  You’re never going to get there if you don’t get the lead out of your shoes!”  or do the bystanders cheer, clap, offer water, and shout encouraging words to motivate and spur on the runners to make it to the finish line?

There’s a reason for that.

We’re hardwired to be encouraged and motivated through positive reinforcement.

Cheerleaders exist for a reason.

I want to encourage you, dear reader, to size up what you’re doing well right now, today.  Put aside your goals or the finish line for a moment and just look at how you’re navigating your day-to-day living and what you’re currently doing well.  Make a list of ten things you’re doing right (even looking up blog posts on managing stress counts toward that list).

When you’re done with your list think of one thing you’d like to do better, just one.

Now, read that list every day: mornings when you wake and each night before bed.

Start your day with your best foot forward reminding yourself of what you’re doing well so when the stress and frustrations hit you’ve already got your safety net of resilience.  End your day so your sleeping brain organizes your day from a place of empowerment.  You wouldn’t believe what a giant change will take place after just a few days of doing this small thing.  You’ve got this!

Jessica Wilkerson, LMFT 104464 Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
By Jessica Wilkerson, MA, LMFT 104464

Jessica is a licensed marriage and family therapist who owns and provides one-on-one psychotherapy sessions at Inspired Life Counseling in Chico, California.

Jessica has a weekly radio show on Christian talk radio station KKXX and has just begun contributing to a monthly column in Upgraded Living Magazine.  She has several pre-licensed therapists she mentors and supervises, but her biggest accomplishments are raising her first born son into his early twenties – he’s about to finish college – and then starting over again with children.  She has two toddlers to keep her young.  Jessica also makes her list of things she does well and what she wants to improve upon, and it shows!