As you are learning to understand yourself better, do a “tune in” or “self-check” at least twice daily. Some people set their phone alarm twice daily to help them remember to do this regularly.
1. Ask yourself – where am I storing my stress? (Check out your body)
Give the following a try by leaving your workspace, if possible, and begin the following:
- Purposely breathe in slowly and deeply to the count of 5 or more
(You are sucking in air to blow up that flat balloon in your abdominal area)
- Hold that breathe to the count of 5 or more (Later you can do this anywhere w/o showing it)
- Slowly let out the breath to the count of 5 or more and turn into a rag doll (floppy and relaxed)
After doing this exercise at least 5 times (maybe in the restroom,) you will usually notice where in your body your stress is stored, and sometimes you can do some kneading or other exercises to relax that area. Ideally, you will stop and do this often enough so you catch yourself before you are over-tensed up and aware of pain.
2. Ask – What am I saying to myself? (Challenge or change your usually very negative self-talk.)
- Start saying to yourself the same things you would say to a good friend going through hard times.
(Unless you are a very mean person, you would never talk to a good friend the way you talk to yourself. If you did you probably wouldn’t have any friends left!)
- Challenge or talk back to your usual very negative self-talk…
- “Ooops I think I over-committed or over-booked the amount I can do with the time/energy I have”
- “Oh well, that’s how things go sometimes. It’s just part of normal life.”
- “Maybe that person is having a bad day and didn’t mean anything by it.”
- “Oh well, we all goof sometimes, I’m just human. (Even God’s not surprised at that)”
3. For Reflection and/or writing out:
- “What am I stressing, upsetting, or depressing myself about now?”
Very empowering to think “If I can stress myself out, I can also learn to un-stress myself!”
- “What are my choices now?” – An Action Plan helps me move ahead instead of staying stuck.
4. Check Feelings: Not for Decision Making but for “clues” as to some of your needs. Stopping long enough to tune into feelings can assist you in staying in touch with what is happening within you personally. It also can help you stay in touch with what is really happening in your relationship.
5. Make a list and keep it in your pocket of quick things you could do that take your mind off problems.
List things you have sometimes enjoyed in the past, even if you don’t feel like doing anything. Amazing how much it can take the edge off as you make yourself do something.
(Call some friends, listen to music, watch funny/good movie, read a book, hike, journal, use a heating pad or cold pack, cook or bake, play a game, bubble bath, take a nap, go workout, pray, draw, play an instrument, sing in the shower, do a hobby, etc.)
Keep your list handy, because it is very hard to think when you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or feeling down!
6. Either at the same time or another time, call a “time out” for a few minutes and read:
- While I cannot control everything that happens, I can control what I say to myself about it.
- I relax and breathe deeply. Some self-talk leads to stress; some self-talk leads to motivation.
- I accept my feelings and the realities of my current situation & picture how I would like it to be.
- I choose to take some action to get there, even if it is not the total solution, or
- I look at my options and keep working toward other goals if this one is not attainable.
I feel terrible……………………………………………… Why is this happening to me?……………………… I’m always such a screw-up…………………………. There is nothing I can do…………………………….. I just don’t know what to do…………………………
But I do know how to make myself feel better! Every person has bad things happen to them! Every human being makes mistakes! There is always something I can do; Who could I ask for suggestions or ideas, support? I will eventually figure it out as I always do.
* Some lines are adapted w/permission from Scott, Dru – Stress That Motivates, Menlo Park: Crisp Publications
Come to think of it, whose responsibility is it to take care of you? As a mom or a dad, many times you may be so in touch with everyone else’s needs that you are not taking care of your own needs.
I have worked with many, many people over the years who have lost touch with themselves. They don’t know any longer what they would like to do with the rest of their lives or even what would be fun. They have developed the habit of taking care of everyone else but themselves. Pretty sad, huh?
Not surprisingly, this way of living often leads to depression and anxiety. More than once, I have tried to use humor to help some over-responsible people (usually women, but not always) start writing out their resignation.
I’m talking about their resignation from being in charge of the whole world. Of course, that means their whole world! Many times it has worked to keep them aware of their bad habits so they don’t pick it ALL up again!
They then can move ahead with beginning to live their own life, enjoying the others in it, instead of being bent over with carrying so many others’ responsibilities unnecessarily. Not surprisingly much of the time, those others are not always appreciative of what is being done for them anyway.
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