In the last blog post I promised to share my method for dealing with that bad kind of stress, the sort that makes you inadvertently uncivil or makes you hyper-reactive to incivility that is directed at you.
But before we go there, let’s remember that there’s also ‘good stress’ (or Eustress, in its fancier name). This is the type of stress that makes you feel energized, alive, excited and vibrant. It injects life with spice.
On this front, allow me to share with you news of a positive stress in my own life right now: I JOINED TWITTER! With the assistance of a wonderful expert who is half my age (gulp), I have already begun posting tweets that are meant to inform, inspire and provoke thinking. Please accept this as an invitation to join and engage together within my budding twitter community too (click here to follow me, as they say).
Now, back to that not-so-good stress. Here’s a simple tool you can use when you find yourself acting out the stress-breeds-incivility cycle. I call it the S-O-S method – Stop, Observe and Shift.
Step 1 – STOP: When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by stress, this step requires you to heed the warning signs and STOP (it’s not easy to stop or even pause in the midst of tidal wave, is it). Warning signs can include a persistent inner tension, or a sense of being on an out-of-control roller-coaster. You might be experiencing physiological stress symptoms, anxiety or depression, withdrawal or an overall decline in performance. You might be curt with others or behaving in other uncivil ways. All this tells you that it’s time to pause and reflect on what’s going on before the situation becomes unmanageable.
Step 2 – OBSERVE: Here you take an honest, hard look at reality. Ask yourself tough questions, such as: what’s actually happening to me and around me? What specifically is troubling me? How am I acting when I’m stressed and how is this affecting my life, health, work and relationships? Am I endangering anyone? (there’s some research that indicates that fetuses can be affected by mother’s stress). And – am I still the person that I strive to be? If I do nothing, where will I be a year from now?
Step 3 – SHIFT: Once you’ve observed and gained insight into the situation, it’s time to Shift. Some shifts require a change in circumstances. If necessary, you might need to make dramatic changes that require courage and significant risk-taking (such as changing careers or ending a relationship). Other times, a small but meaningful shift (or even a mini-vacation) is all it takes.
Sometimes the shift requires work on internal rather than external changes. Regaining your balance is often a matter of recalibrating your thoughts and feelings. For example, you might discover that you need to accept and even embrace certain things (and people) rather than expecting them to change. This internal shift will liberate you from the constant obsessing over stressors over which you have little control.
So, are you ready to take care of your stress? Just hit the S-O-S button.
Good luck on the journey!
As always, please feel free to get in touch anytime.