Creating our own stress

Let’s face it, modern life just is stressful, it moves at a faster pace, expectations are higher than they’ve ever been and there’s more have-to and want-to things to fit into each day, week, month and year, than ever before. But the reality is in most cases we create our own stress.

Case in point: This week, and the next, are pretty crazy for me – lots of meetings and deliverables, and it seems like more are added to my plate everyday. I had set aside Sunday to tackle a big chunk of my to-do list, but instead of prioritizing work and school, which would have made my week go a little more smoothly, I prioritized grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning my closet. All very needed and useful things, and they definitely made me feel better, but taking care of those things didn’t reduce my stress level going into these two weeks. Upon realizing this, I created a plan for the week that appeared as if it was brilliant, but it doesn’t allow for much flexibility, and if one thing goes wrong I’m sunk!

And so it did. Yesterday.

I had a project that didn’t go as smoothly as I anticipated and we’re now a couple of days delayed. That’s actually not so bad. What’s bad is the client is now having to work directly with the vendor because myself and my work partner are both committed to meetings with other clients. It’s not the end of the world, and these things happen when you’re doing project work and own two companies, BUT IT STRESSES ME OUT! Mostly because I have set certain expectations for myself, and put into place a plan that wasn’t exactly as thoroughly thought out as it should have been. The biggest thing that stresses me out is I’ve left no room for flexibility because I have just about every hour of every day dedicated to one thing or another. The result of all of this: an unnecessary two-hour period with an elevated heart rate, frustration and anger – not a pretty site to say the least.

We (I) have to come to the realization that often, it’s not others that create our stress. On the contrary, it’s completely and totally our own personal doing. We over-schedule, overpromise and under-plan, and that’s where we can get into trouble. Inevitably this leads to an over-dramatization and over-exaggeration of the situation, leaving leaves us feeling overwhelmed and believing the tasks are often bigger, and will take longer, than in reality.

In essence we lose all sense of reality and we start manifesting and creating our own little stressed-out world in our heads, and eventually in our real lives.

The antidote? It’s actually rather simple and it starts with a little bit of awareness. You absolutely MUST be in touch with your body and your mind in order to recognize the cause of the stress. I was able to catch myself in the middle of my little “freak-out”. The first thing I recognized was my agitation and elevated stress level, and then I listened to the terrible thoughts that were going through my head. I then immediately called my partner to talk it through, and I even said to her, “Why am I getting so upset by this, this is silly.”

She didn’t have to say a word. I knew at that moment that it was all very silly, that I had actually created this all by myself by not leaving enough time in my over-scheduled day in the case this might happen. And the result was crazy Mel! (whom I spent lots of time with over the last few years and would prefer to spend much, much less time with now and in the future.)

After I hung up the phone I realized I needed to take a moment to recalibrate – take down my stress level and reassess the day, and for that matter, the week. I started by making a very healthy lunch and allowed myself 30 or so minutes in the sunshine to enjoy it – more times than not, a little food, fresh air, and if it’s available, sunshine, can be the magic reset button. I returned to my desk refreshed, reassessed the absolutes for the day, and went to work tackling those, constantly reminding myself to breath and drink water.

The real moral of the story: Over-scheduling causes more stress than we usually think.

BUT, if you do, as most of us will, be sure to do three things:

1)    Watch and listen to your body, thoughts and feelings.

2)    Take a break and step away.

3)    Use that time to nourish yourself in a way that will reduce the feelings and the thoughts

Something as simple as a quick walk to Starbucks, or even a walk around the block can calm even the craziest of moments. If you put your head down and keep trying to plow through, I promise, it’s only going to get worse in the end, for you, and everyone else around you.

If you have tips on how to reduce the “overschedule” syndrome I’d love to hear them!

Peace, Love & Happiness – Mel


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Categories: Be, Work

I want to find my calm

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