Do you wrestle with stress and that feeling of spinning out of control?
It could possibly be just me…. but i highly doubt it. I am betting that you have those days when everything feels like it is held together with a wing and a prayer, perhaps some duck tape and chewing gum. Oh, yes, on the outside there is organization and polish, and that “never let them see you sweat” attitude, but in the quiet moments of the privacy of my own world I must admit there are times when things feel like they are spinning out of control. Being that consummate social scientist, i have to ask what is going on, and why the stress is mounting. And of course develop a plan /strategy to deal with everything.
So i take this simple inventory of myself, my thoughts, and my schedule
- Have I been bad with my nutrition, eating fast food, or junk food? Am i hungry?
- What events or situations are swirling around me? (sick family, job deadlines, weather issues, life events)
- Is there unresolved issues in my life? Am I angry about something?
- Do i feel isolated in this life?
- How does my calendar look? Have i over committed myself?
- Have I had any time to just breathe?
- Am i tired, or lacking sleep?
Hunger / Eating Right – This is one of those core components of keeping us healthy, functioning well, and able to process life. I have noticed about myself that if I am not eating right I begin to get a bit foggy, sluggish, and everything seems to bother me more. And it is really clear that some food is good food – offering clean nutrition that fuel our bodies and minds. And then there is the easy to grab junk food / fast food that offers empty calories, and little more than filler food. Busting the stress takes eating right… keeping healthy things at fingers grasp…. like nuts, fresh fruit, chopped vegies. Especially helpful are foods rich in vitamin B – such as beets, kale, pecans, spinach, brussel sprots,avocado, and lentil
The events in our lives – Having a friend with cancer, or a sick spouse can surely add a layer of stress to your life. We care about those we love, and when all is not right, or situations are beyond our control we feel depleted and somewhat helpless to change the situation. And while we rely on the medical skills of doctors in those cases, we can offer encouragement, or that quiet presence to assure them we are there. Perhaps your life event is a joyous one, like finalizing everything for your masters degree, finalizing plans for your wedding, or buying that first house…. these are joyous culminations of planning and hard work… yet they can be exhausting. Consider what you are juggling. I recommend you grab a notebook and begin writing down all of the events, and things you are involved with… this will come in handy later.
Am I angry? Has something upset my day? Has someone outright offended? Anger is not a bad thing. It is a signal that something is out of balance. It might be that words spoken to you came as an offense to all you understand in life. In reality, the speaker had a very different perspective, or lacked some piece of information that triggered your anger. Perhaps, as was my situation, your life turned upside down and everything you knew (income, lifestyle, etc) suddenly was gone. Yes I was angry, but I could not live there. I wanted to make something new of my life, and i could not imagine holding on to the anger. Instead i rephrased that anger as a motivation to move forward. Resolve what you can, forgive what you cannot. And know that forgiveness is a decision that will take future work to maintain. Dont’ live in anger.
Feeling Isolated – It is easy to step away from others, or believe that what you are experiencing is limited to yourself. Truth is that not true. And one of the biggest stress busters is to talk with others. One example of busting the stress is talking with working women about juggling their professional life and their home, along with outside responsibilities. Clearly we all wrestle with getting the laundry done, or sacrifice one thing for another. Some of us are better about keeping things organized, but I have not met one person who would honestly say they find it all fall into place effortlessly. Its a bit of a juggling act, and throw in one more thing, or change something and everything seems to unravel. The bottom line is dont let yourself become isolated, and dont give in to the thought that you are the only one. Never let that crowd into your thoughts. Find someone you trust, respect and who will honestly give a listening ear, and share your burden. I find that makes all the difference. I dont want someone to fix me or fix it – just be there as a friend so i know i am not alone.
Have I over-committed? When you look at the calendar and it looks like you have less free time than busy, or if you are like me, you did not realize there was something on the books and you double booked how do you feel? Back to Michael Hyatt again – he just was commenting in a recent podcast that all things in life are analogist to gardening principles. Grapes grow better when the gardener drastically prunes the vines back to allow more directed and strategic growth. Growers of Roses routinely cut back the bushes in an almost sacrificial manner, knowing that the new growth that will come will bring stronger stems, and more beautiful flowers. He said that calendars and our efforts should be carefully assessed, keeping in mind our goals, our expected outcome, and how everything fits together. The hard part might be actually cutting away things that are distracting from the long range goal. For example, i love animals, and helping out at that dog shelter is a wonderful thing, but in the long term it is several hours a month that take away from simple things like getting laundry done, meals prepared, or my house cleaned. I could write a whole blog on over-commitment, and finding balance… look for it soon.
Am I tired? Our sleep patterns affect everything. When sleep is disrupted, or abbreviated our bodies feel that difference. And our bodies need a set amount of hours of good solid sleep. When there are other factors in our life, like life event stress, or sickness, it is even more critical to maintain a set schedule for bed time, and guarantee that the bedroom is free of distractions so that it frees us for sleep.
All of these thoughts bring us back to that acronym: HALT – Make no major decision or action when you are:
- H = Hungry
- A = Angry
- L = Lonely
- T = Tired
When any of those conditions are alive and present in your life take it as a signal to analyze, reassess and correct what can be corrected. Dont make sweeping changes, but start small – eat better, get more sleep… and develop habits that will bust the stress. I hope this helps. I certainly needed to hear this today. And always remember – we are each a work in progress…. never perfect, not even close.