7 Steps For Reducing Stress in Times of Great Change
My duckies! Are you okay?
I’m fine, but I’m not going to lie, the last few weeks I’ve found myself living in my emotional limbic brain and feeling all the feels, as it were, and not getting much done.
But guess what?! This is a completely normal reaction to change. Yes. However you’re feeling about what’s going on in the world right now is completely normal. Let me repeat that. Completely. Normal.
I mean really! The world has veered off on some really unexpected detour and it’s taking us all with it. And on this journey some of us are barely keeping it together. Others are living their lives as if nothing’s changed, angry at the fact their local gym is closed, or their weekend plans have been foiled. On the opposite end of the emotional scale are those who have kicked into action and are buying out the local supermarket. Guess what? Completely normal reactions to change.
Whether we initially react to change with fight, flight, or freeze, with fear, anger, sadness, denial, or acceptance, we all have our own personal limits for change. Add to that, stress has a cumulative effect. We must all be aware of our own limits and take action to mitigate stress, which wreaks havoc on the immune system; something none of us needs right now. Here are some steps to helping you find your control through uncontrollable change.
PRACTICING SAFE STRESS
1 Acknowledge your feelings
Your feelings are your feelings. Let them be, you’re not the boss of them. Don’t waste your time judging them, beating yourself up for being too <insert emotion here>, or feeling you need to change them.
2 Check your charge
Some emotions take up a lot of our energy, leaving us little to respond to a situation. Check to see if you have the energy to deal with what’s going on. If you don’t feel you do, it’s time to practice self-care before tackling anything else. When your batteries have some charge in them, it’s time to figure out what you have control over.
3 Find your control
We can expend a lot of unnecessary energy trying to control or change the unchangeable. Stay focused on what you have control over. With emergency situations or sudden change, what we always have control over is our attitude and behaviour. Take a moment to pause, gauge your feelings, then ask yourself what you’re going to do about it.
Our ultimate goal is to respond to a situation, not to react to it. We cannot control how we feel, but we can definitely control what we do about those feelings.
4 Focus on the goal
With any change, the temptation is to focus on what was lost. Be mindful of this, as it uses up a lot of mental and emotional energy. Focus instead on what you need to get through – the task at hand and the path forward. Even if it’s just for the next 10, 15, or 60 minutes, you’ll be expending your energy on the right things.
5 Build a solution
You have a goal, now plan to make it happen. If it’s a big change, break it down into smaller, short- and long-term tasks. Having a plan removes a LOT of stress. Focusing on the goal allows you to integrate the change faster.
6 Take action
You have a goal, a plan, and energy to deal with the change, now you can move forward! Keep an eye on your energy levels. If something is tiring or time consuming, ask yourself how it contributes to the end goal, re-evaluate, and adapt if needed.
7 Rinse and repeat
Change is a process, not an event. Sometimes your best path forward is with practical solutions, sometimes it’s with additional emotional work and self-care.
At any point you find yourself deep in your emotions, take a breath, acknowledge your feelings, and refocus on the goal. Being mindful and checking in will keep you efficient and motivated.
We may not have a choice about what’s happening, but we always have a choice about what to do about it!
What will you be doing to reduce your stress through these changing times? Trust me, you’ve got this.