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March 15, 2022

Stress-reduce your future

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.

I have been pondering this over the past few days, simply because I would like a life, less challenging and more rewarding. At a guess, I will say you do too?
To give this statement context, let me share a few things.

  • I have a hobby-job of waitressing. As you can imagine it is unpredictable, demanding at times, and depending on who is visiting, the team can make or break the mood and flow of the night.
  • Being an empath, I am sensitive to what is going on. In the world, the person next door, people with whom I have a natural affinity.
  • I have a history of feeling overly responsible for things working out, so I take on much more responsibility and self-expectations than my responsibility.
  • Recently, I needed medical support – I rarely go to the doctors, so it was important enough to get me there. Not yet fully resolved.

These and a few other things created what one might call a perfect storm over the past few weeks. A number of factors came together at one time, and bomb! Fortunately, I have several workable strategies that I call on at the moment, and others I use to make deeper changes to my coping ability.   All of these are taught in the ReclaimME! Spring Clean Program.

Knowing I am responsible for myself and my feelings, I had to determine what was triggering me and why.

Steps I regularly take to reduce the challenge:

  • Notice what was happening in me – how I feel, emotions coming up.
  • Are they helping or hurting?
  • Deep breathing for a few moments, even in the middle of a crazy, demanding shift, a short stint in the glass washroom for a 2 minute time out does wonders.
  • Make a mental list of what is needed and prioritise.
  • When others ask/expect me to jump in and help them, learning to say no.
  • Take a step back between shifting tasks that require a different way of interacting, thinking or doing.
  • Putting things into perspective. Talking to myself as I would speak and encourage another, all things considered.
  • Practising being honest with others who have influenced/can support me.
What is triggering me, reflecting on the deeper reasons for my reactions.
  • My expectations, and not meeting them?
  • Taking on doing too much within a short space of time.
  • Recognising my learnt coping strategy – rescuing others, and supporting them at the cost to me.
  •  Panic, performance anxiety result in making panic errors. ARGGHHH!!
  • Taking things personally, and not listening/considering the other as easily  (This is unusual for me)
  • Fatigue, overwhelm, and not feeling valued, appreciated or heard. This combination is the ultimate perfect storm for me and my mental stability. There is still a deep need to feel accepted by others, stemming from my childhood. I am becoming less dependent on external validation, but it is still there in the heightened moments of what feels like I’m sinking.

As you can see, several layers are playing out at any one time. Take heart, and you are encouraged to consider deeper aspects triggered and automatically playing out.

Top layer – circumstances and other people’s needs and expectations. Resources available to achieve the desired outcome

Middle layer – Dynamics, procedures and protocols and errors of judgement, responses to stressors. Level of skill, efficiency, relationships with others.

Deeper layers – learnt, habitual, autopilot responses, expectations, behaviours.

What makes the challenges of the above easier to live with and navigate?
Awareness – what is happening in and around me? What emotions are coming up? How are these contributing to the problem?

Consciousness – what, how, and with whom can I flip the situation and make a positive impact?

Consideration – what is within my scope of influence? What is mine to influence, and what is my or someone else’s responsibility?  How are others feeling, their expectations of the experience?

Letting go/handing over – letting others do their job/role and not picking up the slack or rescuing as quickly as I would. Saying no to myself, not to step in, calming my ‘should do’ voice.

Create and deploy an immediate plan – What is urgent, and how to best achieve this?  By myself, others, or as a team?
What order (loosely) needs to be actioned, and the best approach to mitigate further issues?
Deep breathe, recoup, refocus and deploy the plan to the best of my ability and resources.
Be flexible, and soft in the approach of responding to the situation at the moment.
Be humble, and be a sounding board for them if needed without taking it personally.

Reflection – What was really going on? Reflecting through the above parts and putting things into perspective.
Giving myself some slack, acknowledging the stressors, seeing the lesson, and how to do things differently. What triggers are firing off and the deeper auto-pilot triggers screaming at me to be heard?

Acknowledge, appreciate and empathise with compassion.
Putting things into perspective.
Make sense of the storm, and why things are a challenge for me at times –  my past, habits, expectations. By addressing these three parts with empathy and compassion, it is easier to be objective, create workable changes, have difficult conversations, and heal the rifts created.

By owning and taking responsibility for my scope of influence – my thoughts, actions, behaviour, expectations, and above all, the response/reactions, similar scenarios become more manageable and occur less often.

All of this can come under the umbrella of self-care. 
Learning how to honour and respect ourselves.
Listening to ourselves and loving address the deeper issue to live life from a different perspective.
Make choices with awareness, and conscious change instead of knee-jerk reactions that feel out of our control.
Being self-empathetic and compassionate. Stress dredges up the shadow side like no other. Knowing I am not behaviour, but the behaviour reflects the BS belief systems showing up.
Treat the BS without blame, projection or self-criticism.

How about you?  What are your stress-reducing and future-proofing strategies towards creating an easier life?

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