Whenever we talk about stress there's usually a "trigger" which causes the stress or anxiety response. Everyone has a different "trigger." It's usually based on some negative life experience or a traumatic experience. Some people talk about feeling overwhelmed and it's that feeling which is a "trigger." When it happens, everything stops because our brains go into fight, flight, or freeze. Let's face it, we all want to live super productive lives. Sometimes that means there is a lot coming at us at one time and consequently, we are unable to create a filter. So what do we do? One of my favorite go to's is detach, prioritize and execute. If you practice these skills, you'll be able to get re-focused and watch the stress dissipate.
Detach - In order to identify the thing /s causing the overwhelm you must create space. Whether it's in the form of 3 deep breaths, or literally pushing back from your desk, or going to take a walk, you must detach from the overwhelm. Prioritize - Next, since you've now identified what is causing the overwhelm, create a list of what you need to do specifically to tackle the problem/s. From experience, I suggest writing them down. Execute - Finally, do the first thing on the list. Only the first! Why? Because when you act, your body separates from the overwhelm. Our brains cannot focus on the trigger and being in action at the same time. The action, becomes the focal point. As a result, our overwhelm and stress dissipates.
How do you start your day? Seems like a simple question. Did you know that rolling over first thing in the morning to check in with your electronic devices can create overwhelm? I hear it everyday from people. They wake up in the morning and immediately connect with their devices instead of being connected to the world. And I don't mean being connected to your cousin who lives overseas through your smart device. I mean, being connected to what's been created for us - what is in nature. So please don't wake up each morning and roll over and grab your device. Additionally, it puts you into a state of being in someone else's agenda instead of your own. So your brain starts bouncing - "Oh, I gotta get back to this person. Oh, I gotta do this. Oh, the email..." and it goes on and on. So you're bombarded the first thing when you wake up. It is not a good habit.
When I first retired from law enforcement, it was really difficult for me to break that habit. It was my job to know what was going on locally which could impact my day. But once I broke the habit, it changed everything. I found a place for peace in my life. Separating for about an hour, unless your job requires it, sets you up to have a much better day, free from the overwhelm. I encourage you to create a schedule for yourself where you are getting up earlier, but not in order to connect to your devices earlier. I encourage you to exercise, or take a walk. Release the feel good hormones called endorphins which naturally combats the stress. Once you've done that try reading for 20 minutes. Your brain has been primed to learn with all of those endorphins flying about. Try something which inspires you or is connected with the kind of work you do. Point is, you are not starting your day with a million things swirling in your head which sets you up for overwhelm and stress.
So remember, detach, prioritize, and execute. And please, break the habit of being connected to your devices and re-connect to life!
Have a question for Sam or want to connect via Facebook? Tune in each Monday 12:30pm @TheSamHorwitz on Facebook for Solving Your Stress Mini-Series, where Sam takes your questions and helps you conquer your stress and find your courage.