Keeping Stress In Check
by Rachel Posner
On Monday mornings, I take a look at my schedule, goals, intentions and to-dos for the week. There are some weeks when I do this and I honestly feel crushed by it.
And there are other days when my week looks exactly the same, and I feel inspired and excited about the challenges in front of me.
Why is that? Why do I have such different responses to the same situation?
The difference generally rests with something besides my to-do list. The difference lies in how I answer these questions:
Questions to Keeping Stress In Check
- Do I feel anxious or calm?
- Am I filled with self-doubt or self-compassion?
- Am I feeling scared or safe?
- Am I aware of my mind/body experience or am I checked out?
These answers have a huge impact on how I perceive my week. They dictate whether my week feels exciting, challenging and fun, or stressful and anxiety producing.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you have on your plate and that overwhelm is stopping you from enjoying the good stuff in your life, you’re not alone. And while everyone is talking about self-care these days, getting a massage and taking a yoga class once a week is not going to cut it.
We need practices that help us address the underlying issues around our stress. Because the stressors aren’t going anywhere.
We live in an intense, fast-paced world and if you’re like me, you may make a habit of taking on a little too much (or way too much!). The truth is, with so many opportunities, it’s really hard not too.
I have a tendency to take on too much, not say no, run around like a maniac to get it all done, and not ask for help. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I don’t do as good of a job as I “should” have, I beat myself up. And I can be pretty hard on myself! And in those moments, I can’t see my life. I can’t cherish it and I’m not nourished by it. And the more stressed I am, the harder it is to turn it around because my state of agitation makes my perspective small, making it harder to see the big picture and make good decisions.
It’s because I understand this from a personal perspective that I created the course, Your Brain on Mindfulness. I know what’s it’s like to be so stressed that I can’t appreciate all of the beauty in front of me.
I know what it’s like to be so stressed that I “check-out”.
That might be with a Netflix binge, unhealthy eating, too much time on the computer; we all know plenty of ways to check-out right?
But what’s most important, is that I know how to check back in.
Because none of us are perfect. We will all have periods when we’re in the groove and life feels just right and then suddenly we go off the rails and we need help getting back on track. So how do you check in? How do you embrace your life so that you can both address your stressors and challenges head-on AND pay more attention to growing what’s already good?
The answer is not one-size fits all. Sometimes we need to build our stores of self-compassion. Sometimes, we need to work with practices that take us out of our fight/flight/freeze response and calm our nervous system. And sometimes we need to track the underlying patterns that got us here in the first place.
Living in Spain with limited Spanish has been a perfect place to track my own stress response. Everyday, I can count on the inevitable awkward encounters with the produce seller, other parents in the school yard, or significantly better speakers in my Spanish classes, not to mention the normal stress of life, work and relationships. Needless to say, the learning curve this last year and a half has been STEEP.
And when I’m on top of self-care, offering myself tools and practices that help me feel safer, more calm and more compassionate, my Monday morning to-do list and these challenging moments are not only reasonable but often times confidence building and really fun. On the other hand, when I let those practices slip and I’m feeling self-doubt or anxiety, my 13-year-old daughter reminds me of the irony of getting stressed over how to effectively teach others about stress reduction.
That’s why I love doing what I do. Because I know about stress first hand AND I’ve gotten really good at navigating it. When I fall off the rails, I know how to get back on. I’d love to help you do the same. If you’d like to receive information about my online course, Your Brain on Mindfulness, click here and I’ll put you on the list. The next course begins January 20.
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