Sitting with my coffee cup in my hands one cold morning,I was reminiscing about the good old days. One day in particular, a long time ago. I ran a small preschool, it was a work day. I was sick as a dog but couldn’t take the day off. I was shaken awake by my two kids — fighting on my bed. And it was my birthday. Ahh, the good old days.
I’ve been talking to bunches of people who are stressed. In these conversations I can feel the anxious energy rising up like an electrical charge. This can’t be healthy. And it isn’t the way they want to live. Stress is a boomerang that flies at them and steals away control. Lack of control comes in the spectre of demands from others, bad news pop ups, the have to do list that spams the want to do list. Maybe kids fighting on your bed when you’re too sick to raise your head off the pillow.
Wait, don’t put your head under the pillow. (So tempting when your little angels are exhibiting a flash of ugliness on your comforter). And don’t let stress tie a rope around you and whip you around. Tie on a carpenters belt, stuff some tools in the pockets, and get back to doing your beautiful thing. Harness that energy. Here are your tools:
Tool #1: Step away for a moment. Take a deep cleansing breath. This act alone will create some space. Bonus? You can control this. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat until you feel a sense of control returning. Simple. Powerful.
Tool #2: Information. Ask some questions. ‘If it’s a bad news pop up, ask — ‘What information do I need to handle this?’ Then get it. Another question: ‘What resources do I need to give myself some ease?’ Then follow through. If it’s a ‘I have to do list’ that’s longer than the ‘I want to do’ list, you’ve got to change that up. Go immediately, schedule something that makes you smile and put it on your calendar. Other, demanding people? Ask yourself, “What’s my stuff? What belongs to someone else?” Highly responsible people (that’s you) have a tendency to accept other people’s stuff and take it on as their own. It’s not. Give it back if that’s the case.
Tool #3: A shaker of endurance combined with a bit of moxie. Tell yourself, “This anxiety is trying to tell me something. Am I afraid I can’t handle what’s been thrown at me?” Remind yourself of all the tough stuff you’ve handled in the past. You’ve got this too. “Am I losing myself in this (job, relationship, etc.)?” Maybe feeling stress is a wake up call to make some big changes.
Tool #4: Do something nice for yourself. Small. Large. It doesn’t matter. I know when I was sleeping at the hospital when my Mom was sick, after one particularly stressful week, I came home and immediately scheduled a foot massage. It was one blissful hour, and it helped me change perspective, and take care of myself so I could take care of my Mom.
Tool #5: Groupies. Surround yourself with positive, loving, supportive people. If it’s a work situation that is full of negativity, it’s especially important to seek out uplifting people.
Don’t get sidelined by stress and anxiety. All that does is suck your energy and give you a negative charge. Stress and it’s cousin anxiety are part of life. Keep your power tools handy.