A Piece of Peace
6 Tips to Manage Your Stress
By Kim Christiansen
I was a self-proclaimed ‘stress bunny’. Ok, I was called that by a work colleague at the height of my anxiety-induced state a couple of years ago, but I owned it. I was hopping around blindly trying to accomplish it all, and of course, there was never enough time. At that time, I preferred the terminology: ‘a well-developed sense of urgency’. And I couldn’t really understand those who didn’t share that sense of urgency. Didn’t they understand that there were a lot of really important things to do? And that we should all really just get going and do them and stop wasting time talking about them?
I look back now at my past self with a sense of fascination. I was so stressed out. And eventually burned out. And understandably so. I didn’t really know how to do it any differently. I remember that I felt an incredible amount of pressure to get things done, that there was too much to do, and I really wanted to be good at it all. In effect, ‘I wanted to have it all under control’. I thought that if I could just manage my time better, I would find the secret sauce to getting it all done. I needed to work smarter AND work harder. But what I realized through that experience is that it wasn’t my time management techniques (or lack thereof) that led to the burnout, it was the way that I was perceiving my situation that was causing me stress. Like a goldfish who is unaware of water, I was unaware that my fishbowl was filled with thoughts related to controlling all of the things in my life in an attempt to make myself feel better. Trying to control everything is actually such a counter-productive thought pattern, because my attempts to control it all, including what other people think, just led me to feeling more out of control.
With a lot of self-reflection and coaching, I have come to realize that my thinking is what causes me stress, specifically thoughts that lead to behaviors around people pleasing and perfectionism.
Here are 6 techniques that I now practice to manage my stress levels and bring myself some peace:
1. I practice new thoughts. My favorites are: “I am already complete as a human being, I don’t have to “do” anything to be complete.” “I am a human being, not a human doing.”
2. I accept that I can not control what other people think about me. They will think whatever they want, just like I get to think whatever I want. Free will is a beautiful thing.
3. I recognize that by saying yes to other people’s requests, I am actually saying no to someone else, like my immediate family, or myself. I can’t take care of anyone else unless I take care of myself first. Kind of like the individual on the airplane who needs to adjust their own oxygen mask before they can help anyone else.
4. I decide to do things only because I want to, and from a place of love, not because I want to change someone’s opinion of me, or because I feel like I “should” or obligated. And speaking of “should’s”…
5. Whenever I identify the word “should” in my inner dialogue, I celebrate my growing self-awareness. Self-awareness is so important; the decision on whether to keep a thought can’t occur until I first become aware of it.
6. I reach out for help. I recognize that I can’t do it all by myself, and even if I could, that’s a pretty lonely place to be.
We are all familiar with the mounting evidence on the adverse effects of chronic stress on our physical health, our mental health, and our overall well-being. The first step to wellness is an investment in our mental health. Sign up for a free coaching consultation to see how investing in yourself can contribute to your overall well-being. Give yourself the gift of peace.
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