Like it or not, we acquire and handle stressors all the time.
How well we handle stressors can, however, be a completely different story!
Most of us let stressors become much bigger than they need to be, piling them up like little trophies that balance precariously waiting for the perfect moment to deal with them, which of course, never comes. It is emotionally exhausting to drag these things with us. We end up wasting our energies worrying about the pile rather than actually doing something with it.
But it’s a new year. So let’s do something about it.
How can you start to figure out what to do about your stresses?
First, barf them all out onto a piece of paper. Write down everything that stresses you out just thinking about it. Just take 5-10 minutes to do this. That’s all it takes. Your most pressing stressors will appear magically! I write down both my personal and business stressors.
Then, really take a look at what you wrote down as being stressors. Out of things that you listed, which are under your direct control? Most of our stressors are usually things we can control. When I first did this exercise, I listed “cleaning the house” as a stressor. I used to spend most of my prime Saturday morning hours cleaning the house. I like a clean house. But I realized that I actually was wasting my time doing that. I hired someone to do it, and freed up a bunch of time. Now my house is clean when I come home every 2nd Friday and my bathrooms are frankly much cleaner than I ever got them. So now I get to spend my Saturday doing fun stuff and not just another job.
I review my stressors list on occasion and just pick off things to do or delegate to someone else. Pick your top 10 and make them a priority. The first time I did this was last year, and now about half my list of big and small stressors are dealt with, and I’ve picked off my priority list.
Any stressors that are not under your control? This is a different exercise! For some reason, humans like to control other people and the universe in general. However, you don’t control other people or the universe. (Bummer.) So – if there are people “not doing what they are supposed to do” on your stress list, really figure out why you care that they are not doing something. And then figure out what your choices are around that. For example, maybe you’re worried that your parents are getting ill and you feel obligated to organize them. Now, to a degree, you’re going to want to know what your parents’ wishes are. But there are lots of parents that are in denial that they will actually die or may need care one day. This is an important issue. But your parents are still in control. So what do you do? Best case scenario is that you can have a discussion with them about what their plans are and feel assured that they have some sort of plan (sometimes they’ll surprise you). And if they don’t? You have to let go. I know a bunch of people will recoil when I say that, but really, your parents raised you and they are probably okay to figure out what they’re going to do on their own without your help interference. You worrying about it will not change it or force them to “fix” what you perceive of as a problem. Perhaps you can be ready by researching what their local care options are and be ready when they ask. Just having done that work and putting it in a file for future reference may lessen the sense of urgency around the topic!
Still feeling stressed? Come in and we can talk about getting you the resources you need to handle the stress, whether it is a remedy or a referral.
Big New Years Hugs! Dr. Allissa