Giving in, not giving up: How self-care and acceptance are linked

Learn to let go and increase your self-care.

Have you ever been stressed out about something at work and not been able to let it go once you got home? 

Maybe you were sitting at the dinner table, and your child was excitedly telling you something, but you were only halfway present. You were nodding and smiling, but you were also turning the problem over in your mind, looking for a satisfactory solution.

Maybe the work issue was a big deal. Maybe it would have repercussions that affect you and others you cared about. But was your rumination the key to its resolution? Or was that just a way for you to compound and prolong your stress?

We all sometimes wish things were different

It’s natural to feel tense when something doesn’t align with your expectations. It’s human to consider your role in the situation and look for ways to change things in the future.

Emotional processing can be productive. It can help you understand and reconcile issues. But when you start to think about who was right and who was wrong, examine where things went your way and where they didn’t, cast blame on others (and/or yourself)—that’s when you move into dangerous territory.

Rumination—or returning to the stressful event or issue repeatedly in your mind—increases your stress hormone.

Studies have shown that “monitor[ing] [your] present-moment experience with a lens of acceptance [is] known to buffer stress reactivity.” And, “rumination predict[s] greater cortisol reactivity or delayed recovery.”

In other words, holding onto a stressful event through rumination keeps you in an agitated state. But changing your mindset to one of acceptance allows you to return to baseline. 

Acceptance does not equal defeat

Sometimes you may feel wronged, dismissed, misunderstood, or unappreciated as a by-product of a stressful situation. Those are all truly unpleasant feelings! 

Accepting stressful situations doesn’t mean admitting defeat. It doesn’t mean that blame for the situation belongs with you—or even with the other person or people involved. It just means that you can see the situation for what it is: something that happened, something that you can’t control.

Resisting a stressful situation that you can’t control prolongs your suffering and does not result in any change to the situation’s outcome.

Mindfulness as a coping mechanism

“[M]onitor[ing] [your] present-moment experience with a lens of acceptance” (see above) is a way of describing mindfulness. You can achieve mindfulness through formal practice—such as meditation—or you can use it throughout your day whenever you find yourself either ruminating (thinking about the past) or worrying (thinking about the future).

The key is rooting yourself in the world around you. This 5-4-3-2-1 method can also be used if you or someone you love is experiencing a panic attack.

First, look for five things you see, then either touch or recognize four things around you that you could touch. Listen to discover three things you can hear, then breathe in and acknowledge two things you can smell. Finally, think of one thing you can taste.

By the time you’ve gone through this list, you’ll feel more grounded in the present moment.

Acceptance isn’t easy, but when you let go of things you can’t control, you decrease your stress hormone levels. You’re practicing self-care.

Similar Posts