Mel on Stress
|November 6, 2014||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
I can hear the hysterical laughter now. Mel? Write about managing stress? BWHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Seriously. I’ve learned some things over the years, thanks to a lot of different people and situations, including advice I’ve gotten from you here on the blog.
I was recently asked for advice from a friend on how to reduce or manage stress. I gave my stock reply – I’m a really bad person to ask because I’m so busy managing my own screwed up life to have any business giving advice or trying to fix someone else’s life, and while I had some techniques and activities, it’s very individual and what works for me probably won’t work for them.
But then….I stopped.
Because I had the realization that even though my “self-care” activities of resting, running, and riding (the 3-R’s) were specific…I did have more general advice. I have gotten more and more successful at managing stress. And while a lot of it has to do with my 3-R’s, even more has to do what I DON’T do anymore. So here’s what I said (nicely documented here so when I need a refresher..)
Stop telling people you are stressed. Or complaining how stressed you are. Or telling yourself how stressed you are. Your body and brain attempts to justify whatever you say into truth and reality. This effect is subtle, but real. Use your words – I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m frusterated – these emotions have action plans associated with them. “I’m Stressed” is a vague complaint with no ready answer.
Stop having imaginary conversations in your head where you visualize a particular situation or conversation over and over. Let go. Just say no. Force yourself to think about something else. Hum over the noise in your head. The only time that visualization is useful is if it is a planned exercise to solve a problem. That isn’t what most of us are doing.
Stop having real conversations with other people about the stressful situation. “Talking it out” rarely reduces the stress associated with something, because every time you talk through it, your brain is reliving it, along with all the stress hormones associated with it. If you can’t think of anything else to talk about, then maybe you need to revisit a hobby or go for a walk around your neighborhood so you can comment on the amount of Christmas decorating going on. Bottom line, unless this conversation is going to solve the problem/stress then don’t use the stressful situation as small talk. I find the comfort of a sympathetic ear only temporarily helpful and the effect seems to suffer from diminishing returns each time I talk through the situation.
Stop using stress as an excuse. I’m very guilty of this. I’ll have something I really want to do besides sit in the recliner and watch Supernatural (season 9 is SO GOOD) in the evenings but as the moment of truth approaches and I’m unlocking the front door I can hear my brain start it’s refrain: “I’m so stressed. What a stressful day.”. It’s a lie. In in addition to violating the first principle (name the emotion, don’t lump it all into “stress”) it’s also allowing something that should be a reason to DO, to be an excuse to NOT do.
P.S. As promised, I’ve continued to make changes and tweaks to the blog. Some are more subtle – like adding a cache program in the background, experimenting with SEO, and making a move do a different hosting service. And some – like the little signature I’ve started to include at the bottom of posts – are more obvious to the Dear Reader. There are no “grand plans” for the blog except to continue to do what we’ve done for the last 5+ years – talk, laugh, cry, discuss, and share the journey. But, I just can’t help myself as I read other people’s blogs and see little personal touches that I think would work well here too.
P.P.S. In an effort to better be able to balance ML, Farley, running, writing, blogging , (and umm…studying for boards…) I’m limiting myself to one post per day and if I write multiple posts at once, I’m scheduling them out. At least that’s the idea….in reality, sometimes I post one here….one on Tess’s blog…on on the novel…..etc. I originally thought 9am would be a good time for scheduled posts, but now realize that means you east coast folks are waiting until LUNCH time to see new content here. So, now new posts (if any are scheduled) will go up around 6am West Coast time.