Feeling stressed and re-discovering joy in small steps
A discussion with solution focused coach.
A solution focused coach Skirmante Sabataityte, as well a co-creator of “Emotional Support & Wellness” program at The Hague Peace Projects, is discussing a topic of stress and ways to eliminate it. She briefly describes what is stress through the lens of our brain, ways it shows up for us and where we can possibly put our attention to eliminate it. As well, how solution focused approach is helpful and how it works in pursue of healthy mind and body.
Mental health de-mystified.
To me, mental health topics seem to be a little overcomplicated. There are many names created to label what is happening to our mental health and we think something very special is required to change it or we take it as a fact that is unchangeable. But more often than not, it’s really quite simple and manageable for us, especially if we take action early. Being a solution focused coach, I see how people are able to access their strengths and activate their wonderful ideas when supported with solution focused questions. Managing stress and anxiety is simpler than we may think and much more in our hands than we would like to believe.
“When you focus on fixing a problem, you are focusing on something you cannot satisfy. It’s not like once you fix a problem, there won’t be another one.”
I’ve met people through my life who were tackling their problems in certain approaches of therapy for almost 10 years and things weren’t getting much better, surprisingly, at times even worse. So this made me think – the problem might not be in the problem itself but in the way we approach it. Why with all the effort to fix what’s wrong do we find ourselves going down the rabbit hole?
I believe it’s because if you focus on fixing your problems, you are focusing on something you cannot satisfy, as one problem will show up after another. It’s not like once you fix a problem, there won’t be another one. Instead, you can focus on what you want to create for yourself, and solutions to your problems will become a part of a greater outcome. And here I see the solution focus as a helpful way in creating a desired change for ourselves.
What is stress?
Stress is basically our brain telling us that we are running out of energy and now it’s time to save it. And saving it means it will affect our thinking and movement since these two require most energy in the “orchestra” of our brain-body. So, we feel fatigued, every movement feels more demanding, including getting out of bed in the morning. We have difficulty in remembering, learning, understanding other people’s actions and intentions, some misunderstandings may show up there.
“Stress is basically our brain telling us that we are running out of energy.”
Some of the signs that your “stress bucket” is getting full:
• Feeling burnt out,
• Feeling snappy,
• Feeling anxious,
• Feeling fatigued,
• Feeling “low mood” and tearful
What can be new to some of us – is the fact that our brain is not wired for our happiness. Our brain’s mission is to keep us alive, and the way the brain-body conversation happens is the way that ensures your body’s survival. Since happiness is not encoded in our brain, to be joyful and happy we have to take effort and teach our brain with intention. Bring more positive context to both our life experiences and our memories of past experiences, and that allows us to create positive feelings and thoughts. One of the ways to do it is through language, it is an amazing tool we have and that is deeply connected to the creation of our feelings and emotions. And that is exactly what we use in solution focus – a language that focuses on positive outcomes, our strengths and hopes for the future.
“Our brain is not wired for our happiness. It is wired for survival. To be happy we have to teach our brain with intention.”
How stress “shows up” for us?
Stress can show up in different ways. Some of you may have heard the “fight”, “flight”, “freeze” responses and there are even more ways how stress shows up in our behavior. Some of us may also laugh in stress, in uncomfortable situations, as well as in fear. And so, I think these variations really prove how unique is our experience and response to stress. That’s why I really like the individualized approach of solution focus. There is no one script that fits all, we listen to the person, carefully to “meet them where they’re at” and support them on creating change through powerful questions. This is what a really good coach will do – not try to give you their “best solution” but support you in creating your own solutions. Who is the expert of your life? It’s You.
In response to specific situations.
Stress can happen due to some specific situation in your life that was unpredictable, some uncertainty that continues, financial difficulties, loss of someone you love and more. An interesting thing about stress is that it really doesn’t depend on the severity of the problem. We know that we may experience small problems with great stress and the opposite. And some of us seem to cope better than others. Our overall mind-body state matters a lot when we face a problem.
Builds over time.
Often stress piles up slowly from many small things, over time, we don’t notice it so much at first, until it overwhelms us. However, stress doesn’t always mean there is something bad happening in the world. We may experience stress because for some time we kept using a lot of energy of our body, without taking proper care of it. It could be working on a project, preparing for exams, or taking care of the family.
“Stress doesn’t always mean that something bad is happening in the world.”
Small moments of stress in no harm to us. If you feel anxious because tomorrow you have an important exam or a presentation at work, it’s a normal response. Our brain is preparing for something that will require more attention, means more energy and so saving it is preparing in a way that is very normal. Stress becomes an issue when it continues for some time, as it starts to affect our everyday life, our decisions, our mood and interactions with people, among other things. And this is where we care to really address it without waiting to be overwhelmed by it.
Tips for re-discovering joy in small steps – coming in Part 2.
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