By Heather Hamilton, PhD., LMHC, NCC, DCC | ©2022BreakThrough!
Life Stress is Unavoidable
We’re all aware of the big emotional stressors (divorce, financial pressures, health, etc.). Most often though it’s the little ones (time pressure, lost items, forgotten tasks) that nibble away at our peace of mind and leave us with the cognitive equivalent of a sink full of dirty dishes. The little stressors (or resentments) can add up quickly and quietly (unless they’re associated with toddlers). By the end of the day, they leave us feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, irritable, resentful…you name it. These emotional states leave us exceedingly vulnerable to a cycle of eating our stress away by bingeing on ice cream, cookies, popcorn…
Stress is sneaky – in some ways, it can be likened to cancer or other diseases. Stress (work, relationship, financial, transportation, etc.) can quickly spread across multiple areas of our daily activities. It slowly robs us of peace of mind and very likely negatively impact the quality of our relationships and social interactions. After a while we become completely affected (emotionally overwhelmed) and infected (unhealthy). We may have difficulty sleeping, focusing on work, and feel cognitively foggy or impaired. Thankfully, with the proper tools, we can learn how to manage the impact stress has on our well-being making us more resilient.
Now, Let’s BreakThrough!
For most people, stress causes weight gain, however, if we look at life stress through the 4R’s lens can help us understand what’s eating us and why we’re eating our feelings in response! So let’s look at stress from this BreakThrough! approach.
We do need some stress to function with purpose, effort, and efficiency. However, it’s time to ask AM I TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH? Am I taking on other’s people’s stuff? Hmm…most of us set our expectations pretty high and then beat ourselves up when we don’t get everything done. So..this recognition leads to making lists…prioritizing… and other techniques covered in the course sessions. Next though are some brief pointers.
We develop resistance when we can tell ourselves that can’t do everything on the “to do” list…WHY? Because we keep writing more lists before we’re done with the first one! There’s the list at work, the list in the car, the list we left at home on the kitchen counter. Let’s be real though. No tombstone reads: “She finished everything on her list”. Okay..for sure no man has the headstone…” He finished the Honey Do’s…” (I warned you this course has humor!) So resistance is where we take a realistic approach and start to push back on old behaviors. For some it means saying no, for others it might be (insert expletive_______NO!!!!!!!!!!!!)
We develop resilience when our default response is proactive and protective. For some, this requires going through the process of instilling an inner coach that encourages positive self-talk and thoughts like: “I take care of important tasks. If more needs to be done, I’ll get to it.” My absolute favorite de-stressor when I’m asked to do more is to politely respond, “I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you.” This gives me time to consider the following questions before I commit to taking on more:
- DO I want to do this?
- What is the motivation of the person asking?
- Am I the default “go-to” person because I’ve always said yes or am I the only person who knows how to do whatever is being asked?
(If you work for me…this polite answer actually means NO…I’m leaving early to go sailing : )
We are in stress recovery when our thoughts at day’s end default to: “Important things were done; I’m happy with my progress today!” “I don’t have to worry about that; it’s on the list.”
We hope you have enjoyed this article from The BreakThrough! Program.
References & Related Topics