Feeling stressed and re-discovering joy in small steps. Part 2
A discussion with solution focused coach.
In last week’s post, we shared how Solution Focused Coach Skirmante introduced the topic of stress and ways it shows up in our bodies and behavior. Continuing this week’s conversation we dive into some tips on how to manage stress and keep it at a low bar.
Pictured: Skirmante Sabataityte
Tips in re-discovering joy in small steps.
There is not one universal script written on dealing with stress that fits all, so I can only note some things that are helpful to pay attention to. We know there is already an endless list of ways for self-help, but my opinion here – please don’t jump into trying a bunch of different things to make yourself feel better. This is a mistake that we often make when we are stressed and anxious. Small steps don’t mean a dozen small practices. When you are stressed, it means you are already running out of energy, and your brain is in the saving mode, that’s why it feels so exhausting. So, adding more action steps and trying to make all those mindfulness tools work can make you even more anxious. Taking it one step at a time is essential. You need to regain your energy, not the opposite.
“Small steps don’t mean a dozen small practices.”
So, these could be the things you can easily pay your attention to without needing any professional service:
- Your rest
- Your nutrition
- Your movement
- Your social interactions
Nothing new to surprise you, you probably have heard about it all before. And in fact – these are basic things to keep our bodies going daily. As said, feeling stressed doesn’t always mean that something bad is happening. Our bodies may simply be running out of energy and that results in feeling overwhelmed. And if something bad is happening, we still need all the energy to cope with it.
Your “body scan”.
Sometimes we just feel bad, but don’t know why we feel bad. Did you ever have a morning when you woke up and couldn’t point your finger on what exactly is wrong? It can be even more upsetting as not having a name to describe what you are feeling makes it hard to regulate your own emotions. One way to approach this is running a “body scan” in your own mind.
- This body that is stressed, and this same body feeling strong and well – what is the difference between them? How it feels? What a “great” feeling body is capable of doing?
- And what different is happening in the day of your body when it’s not stressed? How is your sleep? What are you eating? Are you taking a walk to move your body? What are your thoughts focused on? What is helpful for your body in your routine?
- What is missing in a day of a stressed body? And how you can include that in your routine?
“Sometimes we just feel bad, but don’t know why we feel bad.”
Rest, which could be described as sleep and a non-sleep deep rest, is extremely important for our mental health. When we are deprived of sleep, we are depriving ourselves of energy for our brain to regulate our body. I will use a metaphor – we know what happens if we never shut down our computer, soon it won’t be working as before. Sleep could be a whole separate topic itself, as so much happens during it, it is essential and non-negotiable. To put it short without going into much detail – your brain and everyone’s brain needs energy to regulate the body and to know how you should feel at every moment of your waking life – and for that you need to fall asleep. It’s your free therapy.
Speaking of social interactions, it’s helpful to be with someone whose company is relaxing. Surround yourself with people who don’t take a lot of your energy, someone with whom you really can be yourself and at peace. This might be new to you – we contribute a lot to regulating each other’s nervous systems, both ways – draining and charging each other with energy. Be mindful of who you spend your time with. However, it’s true that sometimes we are in circumstances where we don’t have a lot of room for choice.
“Be mindful of who you spend your time with.”
Notice what already works well for you.
Nothing happens all the time, including stress. There are good moments showing up for us even when having a depression. So, look for those moments and notice what is happening that is helping you to feel better. Noticing what already works well for you is the first step, and then you can think of ways to invite more of those moments in your life.
Ask yourself – in the moments when you feel better, even just a little bit – what good is happening? And how does it feel in your body? What are you noticing then? And how do you create it for yourself? Who is there to support you?
You would be surprised how often we forget that we already figured out things in the past. Perhaps stress was there before in your life, at least once? And so good moments were also there for you? If you look back at times when you were feeling well – how did you create joy for yourself at those times?
Keep your “stress bucket” empty.
Since you are the expert of your life and know best what is happening inside your body and mind – don’t ignore the signs of your “stress bucket “ filling up. Keep yourself well by taking time to rest from everything and everyone. Enjoy very small moments, that makes a tremendous difference. In achieving your goals, take small steps, it will give less room for failure and more for making the next right step. Know what works best for you and always look for the positive – keep positive goals in your mind, not the reasons for things going wrong.
“Have control in your hands – not of what is happening in the world around you, but how you maintain yourself in the midst of it.”
No need to be terrified of stress, a mild stress due to putting an effort on a goal, project, studies is normal, and we all have some of it, it also keeps us going forward and motivates us to do better in life. Have control in your hands – not of what is happening in the world around you, but how you maintain yourself in the midst of it. When leading a busy life, it’s important to take good care of yourself as even micro stress with time can pile up and turn into anxiety problems and even depression. However, no matter whether it’s micro stress, something we can’t even identify or if we are going through some tough time because of something tragic, whenever we reach the point when it’s hard to go through it on our own – seek out support. There are programs like “Emotional Support & Wellness” and similar where people are willing to offer their skill of support. As well, you can find any solution focused coach or a solution focused therapist and as well any other preferred professional to support you in gaining your control back in a shorter time.
Take care of yourself and your “stress bucket”.
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