Have you ever had one of those weeks where you’re sure you can’t handle even one more ounce of stress? Where every little thing makes you either bawl like a baby or boil with anger? Yeah, me too; in fact, I just had that week.
Yep. Even people who know, use, and tout all sorts of stress management and stress relief techniques have horrible stress sometimes. The trick is to not get so caught up in the stress that you forget that you can do something about it, which I’m sure you know is easier said than done. I won’t bore you with all the stressful details, but suffice it to say money was a big part of this particular episode; specifically the outlay of a whole lot of it unexpectedly, which affected upcoming vacation plans.
I want to share what I did to get through it, in the hope that it might help you either now, with a current stressor, or at some point in the future.
First: I didn’t try to deny or trivialize my stress; I owned it. I owned my part in it as well. I owned that my response to the situation was only stressing me out more, even though I was having a difficult time changing my habitually unhelpful response.
Second: While my demeanor with clients at the office remained professional, I didn’t try to deny or hide my feelings about my stress when I was home. I spent some time crying, had a couple pity parties, and even screamed a few obscenities at the Universe. I did not, however, allow myself to wallow in either despair or anger. Allowing yourself to fully feel what you feel is healthy; stuffing or wallowing is not.
Third: I got out my “happy kit.” This consists of 3 things I absolutely love, which never fail to cheer me up: candles, herbs & charcoal burner, and music. While the exact candles, herbs, and music are different from one time to the next, these three things are my “go to.” The candlelight sets a peaceful ambience while the flames give my scattered mind something to focus on. The herbs are used to “smudge” or purify my body, mind, and spirit, while their aroma has a direct effect on my emotions (my emotional response to the smell is how I select the specific herbs I’ll use each time). The music completes the ambience and is carefully chosen for the effect it has on me: uplifting, calming, soul-stirring, heart-expanding, etc.
Fourth: I got out my gratitude journal. I used to keep a daily gratitude journal but for some reason, I stopped a couple years ago. I vaguely recall thinking that everything I was writing down seemed redundant because I was feeling and expressing my gratitude in the moment and then also writing it down later. It took a while, but I slowly started slacking in the gratitude department. Don’t get me wrong, I still had lots of gratitude, but definitely less than I’d had when I was keeping the gratitude journal. Once I started using it again, my response to the stressful situation began changing, which affected my emotional, mental, and spiritual states. Within 24 hours of restarting the journal, I was back to feeling like my old self again and although I was disappointed that we’d had to change our vacation plans, I was looking forward to finding fun things to do closer to home.
Did gratitude alone transform my situation? No. But it did play a vital role. I needed the other things to get me to a point that I even remembered the journal; but once I re-started my formal gratitude practice, I began my palpable journey back to my usual happy self who’s able to take things as they come.
Now it’s your turn. Has gratitude ever helped you through a period of stress? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
Do you know what else I’d love? I’d love to know what you’re grateful for right now. Me? I’d be grateful if you shared this blog post with your peeps in social media land. 🙂