Clearly, knowing all about stress mastery isn’t enough to escape highly stressful circumstances. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that life can be pretty exhausting at times, and in hectic or painful moments, I sometimes need a few extra reminders to keep my choices on track when stress hits.
When I’m in a stressful situation, here are the steps I take and why they’re important to me:
In hectic, stressful situations, sometimes a few extra reminders can help to keep your choices on track. Click To Tweet
1. Before you do anything else, focus on your breath. Being under the influence of emotional reactions to stress is a lot like being drunk or stoned. When I’m reacting, I know I’m not in my right mind, so I wait until I’m “sober.” I get there by breathing while I focus on my highest priority: a relaxed body, calm emotions and a quiet mind.
2. Know that if you’re triggered, you’re also in pain. When I get upset, I take a pause. That pause really helps me identify what’s going on with me, like: “I’m really angry.” Or “I’m afraid.” Or “I’m so confused.”
3. Keep your emotions real. Anger, grief, confusion and uncertainty are authentic pain emotions. If my emotions aren’t authentic—like blame, shame, guilt, outrage, pity for others or self-pity—I make every effort to reduce what I’m feeling to authentic pain emotions: anger about the way things are affecting me right now; grief over what’s being lost; confusion about what I don’t understand; and fear of uncertainty.
4. Pay attention. Once I’ve started to calm down and feel my authentic pain, I’m far less obsessed with getting rid of the stressor. This allows me to determine the facts available to me in that moment, which could turn out to be a pretty short list, at least at first.
5. Be honest. In other words, don’t make sh*t up! The uncertainty in upsetting moments is very real. Sticking with what’s real—even if that means I can’t possibly know something I’m desperate to know—keeps me honest.
6. Let go of the outcome. This allows me to wait until I can see a choice that is in my long-term best interest, and to acknowledge this might take a while.
7. Adjust your “aim.” Frankly, if I’m aimed at anything but inner peace, I know my aim is off! So I keep returning my focus to my desire for inner peace every time I get distracted by the challenges.
8. Remind yourself that calming down first is enough. The mind will be desperate to “kill” the problem, but I always remind myself that everything will go better if I calm down first, before deciding what to do…if anything. For this reason, it’s most definitely “enough”!
Really, all these 8 steps amount to is slowing down, calming down and paying attention to what you’re thinking. Making these steps your go-to solution for stressful situations will definitely lead to being more discriminating about what you’re doing and why, and this can’t help but ultimately guide you to a better choices.
I’d love to hear if you have any favorite go-to’s that help you in your greatest moments of overwhelm and anxiety. Feel free to post them in the Comments box below.
Take good care : )