Stress is awful. We all feel it from time to time and it’s like a dark cloud that won’t go away and let you enjoy the moment. It sucks. So how can we fight it?
Stress is like an internal alarm. You know something isn’t right and your mind and body are letting you know by constantly thinking about it, becoming emotional, feeling sick, and more. We all have our unique symptoms. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If we didn’t have this system, we may not know that something isn’t right.
However, once that alarm goes off and we are made aware of what needs to be focused on, we don’t need that alarm to continue. Here are some steps for turning off your stress:
1. Notice how your body is reacting – Are you over thinking? Not eating the same? Feeling sick? Getting irritable? Feeling tense? That’s the alarm.
2. Analyze your situation – what are you stressed about? What is triggering this? Break it down (and take deep breaths!).
3. What can you do in this moment to help? Write down your options. Sometimes organizing your situation into steps can help ease some of the stress in that moment.
4. If there is nothing you can do about it in that moment, or you have done all you can, allow yourself to let it go. I’m not saying forget about the situation, or that it doesn’t matter. It all still does, but if there is nothing you can do in that moment, you don’t need to focus on your stress around it. Allowing yourself to let go of the stress will not make the situation worse, but constantly thinking about it may. Try doing relaxing activities that can take your mind off the situation. Prove to yourself that it is okay to let it go for awhile.
When we dwell in our stresses without taking any action, it can only negatively affect our situation (and our health). Listening to our stress alarm, analyzing our situation, and allowing ourselves to let go of the stress, will help relax our bodies and actually make us think clearer. When we think more clearly, we can problem solve better, which in turn could be very beneficial to whatever stressful situation we are in!
As a leader, it is expected that you are in charge of guiding your employees to bring your company success. They need to be pushed, motivated, and inspired to use themselves as a tool to help build and maintain your business. But the key to keeping your employees working to their full potential is making sure that they have really good self-care.
Here are 3 (of many) reasons why:
1. Our bodies and minds can be like machines. When they are constantly being run, they eventually burn out. Even the best employees will become burnt out if they aren’t given time to rest and reflect. You think they are performing to the best of their capacity now? Imagine how they could be if they were able to constantly refill their energy every few months.
2. We don’t know what everyone is dealing with outside of work. Even if they seem fine at work, the weight of the world may be on their shoulders because of something else at home. If we expect the best 24/7 and rarely give them time for self-care, then they will always perform with this weight. If they still perform okay with these issues, imagine how amazing they could be if given time & support to resolve these issues?
3. We are all human. Giving your employees opportunities for their own self-care means that you are aware that even though there is hierarchy in business, you understand that everyone is human and need to give each other support. It shows that you care about your employees and care leads to trust and connection. If you lack these with your employees, then they will lack the commitment needed for your business.
Boosting your confidence is not easy! Trust me, I can definitely relate. I was very shy as a child who had a lot of trouble believing in herself. People can give you compliments every single day, but if you can’t truly believe them, then they are lost. How can we start to build up our confidence from the inside?
1. Analyze your “flaws”
Are they really flaws? While I was very shy at a young age, I was also very observant and always thinking. As I grew up, I started to accept myself as a more introverted person. Now, instead of feeling ashamed that I was quieter than others, I cherished the fact that I just don’t want to be the center of attention, or feel the need to speak all the time. Everyone is unique, and what you may be thinking are your “flaws” are actually beautiful characteristics that make you who you are.
2. Trust Yourself
One way we get stuck with low self-esteem is always thinking we could be wrong or that we will make a mistake. Sometimes we do, but many times we don’t. It can seem scary to confidently make a decision or say an answer when a bunch of “what ifs” are floating around it. In reality, in most common situations, it’s okay if you make a mistake. If you are wrong, then you take steps to fix it, but don’t let your “what ifs” take away from trusting yourself.
3. Give it Time
I have always like the analogy that building up your confidence is like building a muscle. It takes time to do and unfortunately doesn’t happen overnight. But if you keep working on it, it will definitely begin to happen. Often people say “Just take risks!” “Expose yourself to your fear!” That may help for some, but it doesn’t help for everyone. You may need to take some more steps to get there, or you may realize if you fear something then it’s just not for you and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about that. If you have a dream, but your low self-esteem is keeping you from it, then start to take steps to help your perspective change. You can get there, but sometimes the biggest obstacle is your own self!
Judgment: These days it feels like it is EVERYWHERE! And maybe that’s because it is. We all judge, we read judgments, we hear judgments, we see them. Often people say, “Oh I’m not judging, it’s just my opinion”. Opinions are great, but they are personal preferences. They are how YOU see something in terms of your own life and often opinions can change on a dime. They also don’t define what you are having an opinion about-what’s true is only how something seems to you, it doesn’t mean that it actually is that way. A judgment is making a statement about something like it is a fact. “She looks awful in that outfit...it’s just my opinion”. That’s where someone is wrong. They are making a statement like it is true; they are judging. They aren’t only judging the outfit, they are now also judging the women who picked it out, like it’s her fault it looks “awful”.
She probably feels beautiful in that outfit, and thinking that it looks awful is only through the eyes of that person, it is not a fact. Judgments throw around words that seem like facts, but have no background evidence. Often they happen out of thin air, with no empathy to a story that lies within.
It’s been made clear how hurtful judgments can be. It lowers people’s self-esteem, makes them depressed, confused, and pushes them away from finding their own identities. But what does it do to the person judging? Like I said before, we have all done it even if not on purpose. Over time, what does that do to us?
When we judge others, we also judge ourselves. We are now making strict guidelines for ourselves that we need to fit into. Think of the media – when someone makes a mistake or does something out of the status quo and it gets thrown to the public, people start to judge left and right. All of a sudden there is no room for mistakes. We put that on ourselves. Now, next time we make a mistake the judgment will rain down within us.
Judgments can make us hesitant, fearful, insecure, confused, mean…the list goes on. It can be hard to avoid judging others, but just remember next time you find yourself judging, think about what it is doing to your own identity as well. The more we can rid our own judgment, the healthier we will be and the healthier others will be. Replace those thoughts with empathy and compassion and I guarantee you things will begin to change!
*Original post was on my other site, posted on 1/13/16
It was 2am and I was fast asleep dreaming I was fighting off evil villains from me and my husband's new Star Wars Ps4 game, when I was woken up by a scratching at the door. After about 5 seconds came the little whimpers from a dog that needs to use the bathroom. I immediately filled with stress...2am?! She never does this!
Since my husband fell asleep on the couch in the living room, I thought Maybe if I just let her outside the bedroom she will go wake him up and he can take her out.
Yea, no. He was out like a light bulb and it was only I who was stuck with the job of taking my little dog, Nelly, out in the 20 degree winter morning. I dreaded it.
After putting on about 4 layers of clothes, out we went for some doggy relief. Unfortunately this one was far from pretty (not that any dog poop is really "pretty"). The return home involved a nice butt wipe...just what I wanted to be doing at 2:30am...but alas it was back to bed. Sleep, however, did not happen for another hour and a half (you know....brains working, stomach realized there's no food in there, suddenly your thirsty, etc).
6:00am, when I was finally back into my deep sleep, I was woken up again...same story. So frustrating!!! Back to putting on my 4 layers. As I took my little Nelly out, her doggy ADHD kicked in and she was distracted by everything...snow piles, leaves, every noise possible. It was pitch dark, I was freezing, and had on my glasses that haven't been updated in about 5 years, so I couldn't really see anything. The frustration was building...Why couldn't my husband take her out? Why does she keep doing this? Was it really smart to even get a dog? I'm definitely not going to be able to fall asleep again. It's so cold! When the heck did it get so windy? Why can't she poop quicker?! This sucks! ugh.
I was right, I didn't really fall back asleep after that...but it got me thinking. As a therapist I'm always teaching clients about self-awareness. That's exactly what I needed in that moment. I started to notice that I was picking out every negative thing about having to take my dog out that morning. While it's really not a big deal what-so-ever, I was feeding my stress and frustration with these thoughts, making the situation so much worse.
I have two legs, I can walk. I can use the bathroom whenever I please, but my dog can't. Maybe she is getting sick, it's my job to care for her. I have warm clothes, I'm not going to be out there forever. My husband had work bright and early to support us, while I had the day off- of course I would take her out for him.
Life is constantly throwing us stressful obstacles, some much bigger than others. The key is to be self-aware of your reactions to it. While I was laying awake in bed after my dog poop adventure, I drew up a little cartoon in my mind.
Picture your immediate feeling of stress, anger, frustration, etc. as a vine that is stuck to you. If you don't confront it or get rid of it, it will stay there. Of course it's completely natural to have negative emotions, but it's a matter of what you do with them. If you feed them negative thoughts,they will only grow. Even if you ignore them, they can still grow...just maybe a bit slower. The more you let these negative emotion vines grow from you, the more they will wrap themselves around you. They will slow you down, make you tired, upset, depressed. They come from within and will affect you physically.
Again, one of the most important steps is your own self-awareness. Notice the second that these vines pop out. Do you want to feed them and make them grow around you? When Nelly initially woke me up, I was very frustrated. As I stepped out into the cold, I fed this frustration and let it grow by picking out every annoying thing in that moment. You need to ask yourself - Is it worth it? You have every right to initially be upset about something, but to become aware of that emotion and make that decision of what you do with it is completely in your control. You can let that emotion overcome and restrict you, or you can become aware of it, cut your ties with it, and find a positive, healthy solution.
You don't have to keep being upset, frustrated, stressed. Is that issue occupying your mind really that important? Is it worth prolonging your negative feelings? Sometimes us humans forget how strong we really are...we can do a lot more than we think, but when we let our vines restrict us, it seems like much more of a challenge than it really is.
Nelly waking me up really wasn't a big issue, but it's amazing how something as small as that can have the capability to grow into something more stressful. Sometimes little things can stay with us throughout the day, growing with each additional stress. We don't have to let this happen. We can take control.
So next time you are faced with a challenge, take note of your emotional response. Determine if that emotion is positive or negative and decide if that is what you want in your life. It's your decision!
Nelly waking me up = Started a blog. I'll take it!