Keeping Our Cool in These Stressful Times

At times such as these, our life is uncertain and each day we are exposed to additional information about the health of our world, communities and families. It is important that we resist reacting and instead we consciously choose to calmly respond.

What is Reacting?

While react and respond are similar words, they mean completely different things. Reacting in stressful times is instinctual and it comes from the unconscious mind. It is a process of operating on autopilot without any filtering. This is when you say things without thinking or you act without considering the ramifications of your behaviour.

What is Responding?

Responding on the other hand is more thoughtful and it involves exploring possible outcomes and thinking through options. It is when you take a step back and weigh the pros and cons of your choices. What would be best for yourself and others in the situation?

What kind of person would you rather be, especially at this stressful time? Would you rather be the type of person who creates a calm and happy environment for yourself and your family or would you prefer to be the kind of person who is a wild card, totally out of control and moving rapidly from one emotional state to another? The key to being calm and collected is to be mindfully present and have awareness of when you have been triggered.

How to Stay Mindfully Present Through Anxiety

So how do you become mindfully present when anxiety has yet again washed over you? The best way is to step back and create some distance, physically and energetically, between the trigger (the event) and yourself. Become the observer of your emotional state and be inquisitive as to why you are feeling that way. Refrain from judging how you feel and instead just accept it and observe it.

It is also good to take a few deep breaths as you allow the effects of the trigger to reduce or fade away. The fading could take a minute, an hour, a day or even a week. Every person and every situation are different. The gift of creating distance when you are triggered is the allowance for you to consciously choose how you are going to respond.

Be AWARE

Here is an acronym that I came up with to help myself and my clients in the moment when we are triggered, and we want to avoid reacting negatively. It is AWARE.

A – Awareness

Just recognize that you have been triggered. For example, you are listening to the news and the headline is about a negative prediction about the pandemic and it causes you to feel anxious.  This is also a good time to ask yourself, what is actually triggering you. Was it the event itself (the news headline) or was it related to your thinking around the event (the story you are telling yourself about the imagined outcome)?

W – Wait

This is where you give yourself time to breathe and create space. It could be shutting off the newsfeed, hanging up from the phone call, ending the conversation, walking away or any other means to create physical or energetic distance.

A – Accept

Here is where you make sure you accept your emotions and you do not judge them as bad.  Remember, a healthy adult feels all of their emotions. Tell yourself that it is ok to feel the negative emotions and that it is normal and appropriate.

R – Respond

This is the big step. Here is the fork in the road. Here lies your opportunity to choose the road that has the best overall outcome. This is where you ask yourself, what is my goal and how can I respond in such a way that supports my goal in the best manner? Evaluate each possible response as to whether it takes you closer or further away from your goal.

E – Energy

Now you move forward from a place of awareness that you can choose the best, healthiest and most empowered response for yourself and others.

Although responding instead of reacting is not easy initially it can become easier with practice.  It is unlikely to be responsive all of the time. However, decreasing the amount of time you are reactive and staying centered most of the time is a worthy enterprise. The faster you have awareness of when you are triggered, the faster you will be able to regulate yourself and get yourself back on track.

Let’s Connect

If you are curious as to how my coaching can assist you in developing your ability to respond instead of react and to keep your life moving forward even in stressful times, request a complimentary consultation.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

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Best Stress Management Techniques

It is hard to cope with stressful situations, especially when they happen on a regular basis. Over the long term, stress can have devastating impacts to one’s overall health. This can in turn lead to heart disease, unhealthy levels of cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Finding ways that you can deal with stress so that it doesn’t knock you down is a smart, proactive step towards overall management of both your mental and physical wellbeing.

The tips that are offered below require some practice and dedication but if you stick with it, before long you will get the hang of it. Eventually, you will be enjoying a much more calm and peaceful daily life.

Tip #1:  Slow Down and Step Back

Remind yourself to slow down and to either mentally or physically step away from the stressful situation in order to gather perspective and allow the situation to have a chance at naturally resolve itself. Do this by:

Gathering your thoughts

Talk to yourself or journal out your thoughts. This activity will open up perspective where in the heat of the moment you were unable to see it.

Reflect

Allow yourself the benefit of time to think about the stressful situation. Ask yourself to view both the problem and potential solutions from all perspectives.

See the Big Picture

Put yourself in the position of a neutral third party and then ask that party how they see the situation. What comes up may surprise you.

How Important Is This?

We cannot afford the time, money or energy to be invested in everything that give us discomfort. Ask yourself if this is really the issue that you want to be engaged in. Will this issue matter in a day from now, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now? Ten years from now, will it matter at all? Probably not worth getting stressed out about.

Tip #2:  Breathe Deep and Relax

Breath is such an important contributor to reducing stress. This is because when you breathe deeply, you are sending a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Your brain then sends this same message to your body and as a result, your muscles start to relax, and your overall tension reduces. My favourite way to breathe deeply is to inhale for the count of 6, hold for the count of 6 and exhale for the count of 6.

Tip #3:  Walk Away

If you feel that your stress is triggering anger that involves anyone else, end the conversation and take some time and space. Stay way until you are mentally strong enough to deal with it or until the situation naturally works itself out. Realize that stressful situations can lead to your constantly re-thinking and re-playing things over and over. Mentally walking away means that you put an end the that rumination as well.

Tips #4:  Concentration on Something Else

Stress can consume your thoughts. It can be helpful to kick it out of your mind and replace it with something more positive, calming and fruitful. Go for a walk, read a book, meet up for a coffee with a friend, catch a movie, etc. The idea is to give your mind a break and to think about something other than what is stressing you.

Tip #5:  Burn Off Energy

When your body sends out a stress response, it thinks you have something to physically respond to. Often, we don’t have anything that needs running away from like a charging animal or anything of that sort. Still, your body needs to respond to burn off this extra energy. Physical activity can be a great way to relieve stress. Go for a walk, take a jog or hit the gym, whatever you feel up to.

Tip #6:  Talk It Out

One of the most important things to do in a stressful situation that involves another person is to communicate effectively. This involves clearly expressing what you think, how you feel and what you want without demanding that you must have things your way. The basic message is “we both matter so let’s work this out.”

Let’s Connect

I hope you find these tips interesting and helpful in managing your day to day stress.  If you are interested in how coaching can help you manage stress and ward off anxiousness, go to my website and request a complimentary consultation.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

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