If you have been following this series of blogs for stress management, you have already understood that there are many techniques to buffer your stress level. I highly recommend that some of these “tools” be used daily when stress level is relatively low in order that they will already be an ingrained habit when challenges get ramped up.
The second “I” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. stands for two concepts: INHALE and INTERPRET.
Stress can localize in your body. Have you ever been to the doctor or dentist with pain only to discover that there was no medical issue associated with the discomfort? Stress and its “sidekick” of cortisol can flood your system to point that you either feel pain, have rapid breathing, or even feel panic.
Whether or not you actually feel any bodily symptoms, get in the habit of deep breathing. That’s right. Wherever you are. On the spot. Close your eyes, breath in through your nose for 5-7 seconds and breath out for the same length of time. Do this 4 or 5 times to literally slow down your body’s internal rhythms.
See the above photo? What do you see? What you think or conceptualize based on the limited view may be skewed with what actually IS. You may quickly draw conclusions without all the facts. And then what you do with those facts that you believe to be true can “mushroom” internally without merit.
This concept is trickier to handle. Why? Because each person listens to that negative “mental tape recorder” that plays over and over again. Ann Bradford’s statement (see above) is only half right. Not only do you need to pay attention to what you tell yourself, but you also need to challenge the negative statement(s) with truth.
When you’re under a time of stress, be careful how you interpret it. Here are some examples:
- “This is the worst thing that could happen.”
- Use this: “I never thought I’d be challenged with this, but I know I can lean in and will be okay” (see yesterday’s blog about “leaning in”).
- “Everyone else is smarter than I am.”
- Use this: “There are a lot of smart people in my class. They have their strengths, I have mine.” *Notice: “Everyone” is replaced with a more realistic category.
- “I am in pain. I must have a terrible disease.”
- Use this: “I’m feeling discomfort. I need to go to the doctor for an examination.” Notice that there is no evidence to support the fact you have a terrible disease.
- “It’s time for a routine exam. I know there wasn’t anything wrong last time, but the doctor will probably find something this time.”
- Use this: “It’s time for a routine exam. We’ll see what the results are this year.”
Many times, your thoughts are so automatic, you never even question them. We call these “ANTS” (Automatic Negative Thoughts). The goal for a healthy mindset is twofold:
- Pay attention to the beliefs you take for granted inside your mind. They either put you in a “good” or “bad” place emotionally. If you land in a bad place, it creates MORE stress. Therefore, you need to pay attention and challenge the statements!
- If you’re already in a time of stress, be careful how you are dealing with it emotionally. Implement the Positivity Ratio of >3 to 1. Let the “1” stand for the negative event. Now find at least 3 positive things that are currently going on in your life to balance out the “1.”
Here’s an example for using the Positivity Ratio:
This is based on my own caregiving experience from years ago……
“1” : Caregiving was an extremely challenging time in my life.
“>3”: What I learned:
To be proactive. To encourage someone else. To have my own legal, financial, and health matters taken care of, regardless of health in the moment. I’m capable of handling more than I realized.
You have the choice about the takeaways you have for everyday life as well as challenging times. Work hard at interpreting it correctly, filtered with truth.
Step outside the window of your mind and view the bigger picture that is grounded in truth. You’ll be glad you did.
This is Hope Unveiled!