Has anyone ever told you, "Wow, you have the perfect life." You smile and say, "Thank you." On the inside however, you are tied up in knots and stressed to the max. Sure, we all want people to think we are okay and that everything looks perfect. The reality is, striving for the perfect life is stressful. And not everyone defines "perfect" the same. How many of us portray that we've got some kind of perfect life where in the background things are just in the shitter? Excuse my language, but I mean, let's be real here. I think we all have this complex where we've got to keep up with the Joneses. We've got to least look like we've got some semblance of our lives together. I want to tell you that the way you solve problems and the way you get better at things is by sharing your vulnerabilities with others. Being open and vulnerable is not a weakness. It's one of the most courageous things you can do. It took a long time for me to understand that. Please take it from me as a former law enforcement officer. If I ever shared anything personal that my life was crashing down around me, there's a stigma that goes along with that which prevents a lot of officers from asking for help. Myself and others are working really, really hard to get rid of that stigma, which is killing our law enforcement officers. The rate of suicide higher than ever, and it is all traced back to the stress and the inability to express yourself. So if you're finding that you're in that boat, my wish for you is that you have a best friend in the whole wide world that you can confide in, whether it's your spouse or somebody else that you can say, "Hey, this is what's going on. I know things look pretty on the outside, but I'm a God awful mess."
So back to, everybody thinks I've got everything together when in reality, I am totally stressed out and things are a mess. How do I make it stop? I just mentioned communication. You've got to reach out. Then do one of my favorite strategies, detach. No matter what is going on around you, something is causing the stress that you are feeling and you have got to detach from it. I don't mean push it away and ignore it. I mean, take a step back, take a deep breath, recognize the stress, recognize the thing that's causing you stress.
Now once you recognize it, what do you do about it? Prioritize.
When you are detached, your amygdala or that fight, flight or freeze center of the brain gets turned off so you are able to access you rational thought, or the prefrontal cortex part of your brain. It's very important. You can't do that if you're in the "thick of it" because your brain is thinking survival. By detaching, you are able to calm things down. You engage your rational brain again and look at the stressful thing for what it is and then you prioritize. Ask, what is the next thing that I need to do to move through this? It may be 10 things and you can write them out. Writing it out is great because it's out in the open. You can read it multiple times. So you've got, what is that next thing? It's number one on your list. Lastly, you execute.
When you execute, you are doing number one on your list. If you can do these three things - detach, prioritize, and execute every time stress comes up in your life you will decrease your stress. You may currently do what I did for years. Try and push the stress to the side, or push it down and and keep moving forward. No timeout, no stop. I tried that for the longest time. I told myself when things got crazy, if I just put my head down and push through, I would come out the other side and everything would be okay. That is a myth. I'm telling you, I lived that for so many years. It doesn't work. It beats you down. It leads to burnout. It exacerbates the stress because you stay in that fight, flight, or freeze. You're never able to catch your breath. You're never able to detach. You're never able to prioritize and you're never able to execute. This is so critical for so many of us out there because again, we portray this life where everything is fine when everything is not fine. When you can step back and really look at the things that are causing you stress, you will realize what those things are. Because until you learn to identify them, they will just keep coming at you.
Detach, prioritize, and execute will serve you no matter what kind of stress it is.
If you detach, step number one, if you prioritize, step number two, and if you execute, you will shorten the length of time that you're feeling stressed and you will have a key life strategy that will last you forever.
Sam speaks on stress nationally to many types of audiences. From law enforcement to business groups. You can reach her directly firstname.lastname@example.org
or through ABadgeofHonor.com
Don't forget to visit Sam on FB, Twitter, Instagram @TheSamHorwitz. And @Samantha Horwitz on LinkedIn and YouTube.