Finding Your Calm
Five minutes ago my head was about to explode because I knew there was NO way I was going to finish all of this in one day! Now, I'm sitting here wondering what to do... time for a blog! Then I think I'm going to hypnotize my kid, you know -- just for kicks. LOL.
The point is I am in no way immune to overwhelm and frustration... it happens quite often actually. More often than I'd like to admit. However, something I am rather proud of, is that I do not allow it to stop me. There was a time when I did... and on occasion it may still slow me down a little... but I have learned to separate from the "need" to get it all done enough to maintain the clarity necessary to get it done anyway. I have also learned to separate from the need to overreact to an occurrence that can't be changed.
How do I do that? I monitor my internal dialogue. I know that sounds like work... and it may be little at first... but the more I do it, the better I get at it and the less effort it takes. When I feel overwhelmed by any number tasks or any current of negative emotions, when I feel like there's a million things to do and it is simply not possible to finish it and I don't know where to even begin, I tell myself that I don't have to finish anything right now.
Who and what I am is not dependent on or reflected by the completion of any task or the unfolding of any event. It's just a list. What I get done will get done, and what I don't get done, well, there's always tomorrow. And it's just a moment, by accepting what can I learn and being more prepared for the next I can keep moving forward. By doing this I separate myself from any "need" or "expectation". I look at the event and I pick which response best serves me. I look at the tasks and I pick which one seems most important (i don't worry too much about whether that judgement is correct or not, I just go with my gut) and I start there. I do my best to focus on that one thing and not worry about the next one until I get there. And before you know it, the list is done!
Stress is not caused by the amount of things, responsibilities, tasks, emotions, or events in your life... it is caused by your thoughts around those things, responsibilities, tasks, emotions, or events. I know we don't like to hear that, because it puts us in control. And if we are in control of ONE MORE THING! It feels like the rope will snap! Besides that, if we are in control, there must be something wrong with us for feeling like this in the first place, right?
Stress is natural. And in the right amounts it is a positive thing. It is a challenge that we rise to! It can motivate, teach, and helps us to grow! We only feel stressed in a negative way when we feel we lack the resources to meet that challenge. Not enough time, energy, ability, money, patience, skill, potential, not enough whatever it takes to meet the demand. Because of this your thoughts have a direct effect on the stress you perceive often putting your brain into an elevated fight or flight stress response regardless of the actual altitude of the challenge. Our greatest weapon in fighting stress is our ability to choose one thought over another!
No there is nothing wrong with you for getting stressed out... we all do it because our brains tend to make negative judgments about the situation and we have not programmed a better response. And if taking control of that ONE thing, can improve your ability to handle all the others, I'd say it's probably worth it.
If you were confident in your ability to cope, stress would dissolve! So think about all the things you've made it through so far and use that as your frame of reference. You can do this! Recognize the irrationality of any absolutes -- never, always, must, should, have to... These are seldom really true! Focus on any exceptions! Remember that not getting something done as well as any negative event, is seldom going to be the end of the world... inconvenient maybe, difficult perhaps, but not a true danger; try focusing on doing what you can do. Catch any disempowering "can't"s or "why"s and turn them into more empowering "can"s or "what"s. Replace "I can't do all this" with I "can at least do this thing" and start there! And replace "why do I get stuck with all this?" with "What can I do to get through this more efficiently?" and simply do what you can! To get the right answers, one must ask the right questions. "What can I do to improve this," is generally a good start. Make sure you are always looking for how to improve the situation!
When you feel a stressful response building, try the following these steps to start training a better response:
1. Step back from the situation.
2. Recall something you are grateful for to break your state -- anything, can be as simple as a cup of coffee or a hot shower
3. Take 3 deep diaphragmatic breaths and release the sense of threat as you exhale.
4. Repeat an affirmation that resonates with you, like :"I can handle this." "I am filled with peace and calm." " I do the best I can and that is enough." "Tension flows from my body." "It gets done when it gets done." "One thing at a time." "I do what I can." "I am in harmony with life." Pick something that helps you!
5. Notice how you feel
6. Breath again if necessary.
7. Focus on the self-talk! Ask WHAT you can do in this moment to improve the situation or WHAT you can do to use this situation to your advantage or WHAT you can learn from it -- all empowering questions!
8. Act from a place of calm and clarity and proceed to take a step.
See if this helps! I know you will get there! And before long, you too, will be looking for the next challenge. Let's just keep it at the motivational level next time!