As a stress reduction expert, you may expect me to have zero stress. This is not true. No one is without stress. We all have stressors in our lives. I am no exception. Over the years I have learned to minimize the amount of stress I create for myself and to manage the real stress that is thrown my way. This summer however, I was tested.
For the last few months, I had a plethora of stressful events hitting all at the same time. My mother, whose last surgery was filled with years of complications, was having another major surgery. On the positive side, my husband and I were preparing for a move out of the country. But even positive changes can create stress. We were leaving our friends and family. We were leaving our home of over a decade and the area in which we both grew up. My husband was leaving his stable reliable income. Not only were we experiencing a shift in where and how we lived, we needed to physically prepare to move. We needed to fix up our house and find renters. We sold 75% of the possessions we own. We lived in a house constantly under construction and littered with a disarray of boxes. Plus until the last five weeks, we did not have a definite timeline to move. Everything was up in the air, changing, and in chaos.
The perfect breeding ground for Type-A stress.
I’d like to tell you that I sailed through these challenges with perfect ease and calm. I did not. What I did realize is the power of the tools I have been teaching these past years. We can not eliminate all the stress in our lives, but we can have solid tools to help us through life’s stressors. Here are a few I relied on during this time.
Stop: To make this move, we had an overwhelming to-do list in addition to our normal jobs and caring for my mother. The amount of work and the limited amount of time made me feel like I had to be doing something every moment – which is exhausting. Added in was frustration when there was a holdup or delay. However, every time I stopped, paused, went to the State of Gray, or did a little self-care, the cloud of stress was lifted. I could see more clearly. I was more relaxed. And the items on my to-do list were completed faster and more easily.
Communicate: Sharing how I felt, even if I knew it was irrational and that it was not something my husband could or should solve, allowed me to get the pain out of my head, allowing me to move forward. When we keep our feelings bottled up, it becomes a breeding ground for negative thinking, which breeds more negative thinking. Release your thoughts without malice or attack, just state the facts of what you are experiencing, and notice how you can then be freed from them.
Ask for Help: Do not isolate yourself. Connect with others. Release the ego of needing to do everything all by yourself. A five minute conversation or a simple task picked up by a friend can make all the difference to your sanity. You are not responsible for the world. We are all in this together.
Laugh: Instead of letting one more to-do or complication become the straw that broke the camel’s back, laugh. Laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. Laugh at the challenges thrown at you. Laugh for no reason at all. Laughter lightens the mood, connects you with others, decreases stress hormones, and provides positive endorphins to the body.
I hope you remember and use one or all of these tools when you are next hit with stress.