I’m going to be honest: things around the Whitten house have been a little stressful over the past couple of months. There have been good stressors and bad stressors. But at the end of the day, it’s still stress!
In the words of my wise college professor, Dr. Jane Teleki, “When under stress, we tend to regress (to what is normal and natural to us).”
Over the weekend, I spent quite a bit of time engaging in some much needed reflection. Why was I feeling this way? What was getting in the way? What did I need to do differently in order to be successful?
And so, I took my own advice. I did the same things I would suggest to you if we were together in a session. Here’s a starting place for you on those days when it feels like you just don’t know what to do to make it through:
Questions to ask Yourself
- What do I HAVE to do today? What can I put off until a better time, decide not to do at all, or delegate to someone else?
- What worries are constantly flowing through my mind? Are they based on truth, or are they based on pain and fear?
- How am I contributing to this stress I’m feeling? Am I procrastinating something? Am I not sure how to do it? Am I scared that I’ll mess up?
- What do I need to do in order to feel better? Do I need to talk it out with a trusted friend? Do I need to journal it? Do I need to do some physical activity like cleaning, gardening, or exercise to work through it?
- What are my mental blocks that are holding me back? Do I have to be in “in the right mindset” in order to do what needs to be done? Do I need to change any of my beliefs because they aren’t holding true for me right now? Are my expectations at odds with each other?
- What is outside of my control? Am I spending all of my time focusing on what I can’t control? What parts of this situation are within my control?
- What’s one piece of information that I need to move forward?
- What’s one tiny step that I can take now in order to feel like I’m making progress towards not feeling so stressed?
- When was the last time I engaged in some self-care? How does not doing this regularly impact my stress levels?
Action Steps to Work Through the Emotions
Pull out your stressful day plan. Do what it says. If you don’t have one, then create one (if you follow the link, it will help you walk through the steps).
- Use all of your senses to help relieve your tension. Look around you. What do you see that makes you smile? What can you listen to that will soothe your spirits? What can you smell that will relax you? What can you touch that will relieve your stress? Can you taste anything (even if you imagine it) that will make you smile?
- Take a break. Time outs aren’t just for kids who have misbehaved. Trying to force yourself to do something when you’re just not feeling it doesn’t get you far. Go for a walk. Fold a load of laundry. Take a bathroom break. Straighten up your desk. But go do something else for just a bit and then come back. You’ll feel differently and you may have a different experience.
- Plan when you can engage in something that rejuvenates you (aka “self care”). The sooner the better. Go on and commit to making this a daily practice in some shape, form, or fashion. It’s not optional if you want to try to keep your stress levels low and your happiness high.
- Remember that question you answered above about the next tiny step you can take? Go on and do that now.
Hopefully, this will get you through the tough spot today. Stay tuned to find out how to change things to keep them from feeling so tense, so fast!