Ok, I am going to get briefly serious on y’all, [insert apology in advance ;)] because out-of-control stress can be dangerous to your mental, physical health and self-esteem. The upside, before you start to think this post is a complete bummer, is that stress is very manageable.
Back to bummer time [with a happy ending]…
There was a time in my early twenties that I thought that I was not going to make it through. Literally, done. I won’t give all the boring details, but imagine feeling like you were in the midst of the worst time in your life. I was wildly overwhelmed and any rational thought ability had abandoned me. It seemed that no matter what I tried, the outcome felt predetermined to fail, always. I felt as though something was “stacked against me, that I wasn’t meant to feel happy, that is just not who I was, nor the life I had. I was seriously not in a good place. The reason that I am telling you this, is because this was a point in my life that I really understood the importance of “being present”, noticing and listening to the encouraging signs around me. Still have you with me?!? Maybe not such a bummer?!?
I was getting home from one of my 3 jobs, that made up a full time job so that I could pay my tuition. I was tired, feeling very despondent and so poor that I barely had enough food for supper that night. It had just snowed, and for anyone from a cold climate, you know that this can make the world look surreal, calm and beautiful. In a tree, next to my apartment, was a extremely tiny, calm and very brave little white owl. This is an unusual and unexpected sight in the city. This little guy looked at me as I spoke, he was unfazed and his presence just calmed and filled me with foreign feeling of hope. This was so weird. So weird that it affected me viscerally (my whole body felt calm for hours). Two days later, my life seemed to shift in very profound ways, leading me on very welcomed path. My hard work, and pain, was actually worth it.
It was the inexplicable sense of calm I experienced in the presence of that cute little owl, that compelled me to look up the meaning of owls showing up. What I found was that owls cam be seen as messengers appearing to provide guidance in confusing times, they can be a blessing (or a bad omen…I chose to ignored that!) and are often associated with the Greek Goddess Athena, sympbolizng wisdom and prophecy. Since that moment in my life, I have kept that calming image as one of my “happy place” moments to remind me that it is important for me to “see like an owl” in my dark times, knowing that this dificult moment will pass like all others have. I have the ability to move through.
Ok, enough seriousness…I leave you with this advice…
Be present your life, be in the present moment fully, looking for signs, gathering the “happy place moments” to pull out later as mood altering tools. Ask yourself, in the moment, what is going well in my life?
This is the second post in my stress management series. If you found this one first, check out last weeks so that you understand my “5 Areas of Stress Management”. I will be offering tips in all five areas over the next few weeks.
Distress vs Eustress
They both sound the same right?!? All bad.
Well, eustress and distress are related, like brothers, both affect our behaviour and quality of life, one in a good way and one, not so much.
Eustress is the good stress that motivates you to get stuff done …what what ?!?! you ask? Yes, there is good stress. Stress can be a motivator and provide incentive to get the job done. This stress is so good that some people really enjoy when they feel this way. I definitely do, and when I am in this “zone” I ride that wave, enjoy the state of “flow” and creativity shot that I get. Everyone needs a little bit of stress in their life in order to continue to be happy, motivated, challenged and productive. Stress is only bad when it gets into the zone makes you feel anxious, depressed and burned out because it becomes intolerable and feels unmanageable. This is the kind of stress most of us are familiar with and this is the kind of stress that leads to poor decision-making. So feeling motivated to keep on moving thought my five areas of stress resilience building?!?!
Emotional Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize your feelings and to differentiate between them, to know what you are feeling, and why, and to know what caused the feelings.
Seeing music as more than just a way to entertain and move our emotions, Jonathan recounts his own struggles with stress and anxiety, and explores the potential of sound as a healing force.
There is a new podcast series that I found that I absolutely love, “The Hidden Brain”.
It is described as “helping curious people understand the world, and themselves”. The one I recently listened to called “Embrace the Chaos” fits so well in the stress management area of Attitude, particularly setting a mindset that allows you to adjust, adapt and flourish even when you think things will be awful.
Stress Relief Skill of the Day: Brain Dump
Collect all of those “worst-case-scenarios” that you have running free around your head. I know you have them, because you are human. You don’t want let those little pieces of illogical information running free around your mind and controlling your mood, so find them, label them, list them and then challenge them. Ask yourself the following:
Yes, there will be difficult times in your life. It is important to accept that and start developing the knowledge, mental state, attitude and skills to navigate this extraordinary journey that you are on. I often tell my students/clients that I would never give advice that I have not done or are not currently applying in my life.
Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)
eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success