What You Need To Know To Stress Less

I know what you’re thinking.  “Really Marva?! We needed a month dedicated to letting us know how stressed we are. No worries. I’m good. I’m well aware.” Understood. Does the photo capture it?th

Being aware is great but what’s important is figuring out ways to take the stress levels down a few notches. Therefore, I want to explore this definition of stress. Stress is a perceived threat (real or imagined) to our mind, body, spirit or emotions. Do you know how to attack this threat to your health? To your joy?

Recently, I worked with a new client – let’s call her Paula. This highly stressed, 40-something senior manager at the EPA and mother of two knew stress interfered with her health. Paula constantly worried about her mounting job and family responsibilities. She felt like an out-of-control juggler on a treadmill of expectations.

During her commute home, reliving the last eight to ten hours caused Paula to feel exhausted and anxious. In addition, Paula felt guilty. She knew her stress level hindered success at her second “job”, her role of wife and mother. She’d be home in just a few minutes. What could Paula do? 

Paula and I created a ritual to transform her commute from a negative to a positive experience. She nearly broke the decibel laws as she screamed and cursed her way home. As if she opened a bottle of champagne, all the socially unacceptable words and thoughts she wanted to say aloud that day suddenly sprayed all over the inside of the car. This release of emotions and “junk” (let’s call it what it is) cleared space in her head for her second “job”. Like the tiny bubbles floating in a champagne flute, Paula’s patience and energy rose before she reunited with her family.

What makes stress positive or negative? Well, when you feel like you can learn, adapt, and grow to face a challenge, the it’s a good stress (i.e., eustress). It’s bad when you feel like you can’t (i.e., distress).

Before we worked together, distress overwhelmed Paula’s commute. Since she lacked an outlet to express her true feelings about her workplace, she had very little left to give to her family in the evening. The champagne strategy gave her the option to speak freely, and even though she did not confront an actual person, the “junk” poured out of her.

By the time Paula drove in her driveway, her energy level was up; her mind was clear; and, she was ready to face any family challenge.

How can you prevent distress from ruling your life?th-1

First, identify the time of day during which you feel the most distressed. You know, it’s when you desperately want to send out that distress signal – the white flag of surrender!

Next, determine the source of distress.

Finally, choose a new habit or skill that turns that distress into eustress. For example,

  • Release the distress – Hit the gym, go for a walk, use the champagne ritual
  • Quiet your mind – Meditate, read, listen to uplifting music
  • Delegate – Order out or hire a babysitter
  • Pamper yourself (in a healthy way) – Sip tea, get a massage, take a bath (remember the Calgon Take Me Away commercials!)
  • Prevent future distress – Set boundaries, develop a plan, say “no”.

Taking control of your life is the foundation of eustress living. Which simple step will you take on your wellness walk?

In my next newsletter we’ll explore MORE about Stress and tackle the second piece of the definition: THREAT (real or imagined)!

 

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